ICT Infrastructure and Services

UPU: Paperless customs clearance of postal items


Customs authorities are an integral and important part of the postal logistics chain. The time that ecommerce parcels spend in customs is a substantial part of postal end-to-end performance. To remain competitive, postal items need swift processing throughout the entire supply chain, especially at the customs declarations.

In response to the inefficiencies related to the paper-based declaration forms CN22/CN23 for postal shipments, the UPU developed in 2010 a paperless electronic system known as the Customs Declaration System (CDS) based on the joint WCO–UPU Customs–Post Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) messaging standards. As result, the information coming along with a parcel is shared via EDI messaging before the package is sent, allowing to:

  • Reduce costs and delays along the supply chain ;
  • Exchange advance data and calculate required duties and taxes ;
  • Facilitate track and trace of postal shipments ;
  • Carry out necessary risk assessment ahead and send an alert

To know more about the UPU Paperless Customs Clearance and Customs Declaration System and discover the CDS Brochure

For whom

Decision makers
Policy makers
Middle Managers

Services offered

Building skills
  • Building the technical skills of postal operators to use and operate the paperless customs clearance system
Institutional building
  • Building the capacity of postal operators and customs authorities to exchange customs declaration documents (CN22/23) electronically


International organizations
  • World Customs Organization (WCO)
  • United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
  • Universal Postal Union (UPU)
National agencies
  • Postal operators
  • National customs authorities

Meet the beneficiaries

Canada Post and Customs - CDS went live in 2014 in the Pacific international mail processing facility in Vancouver.

At each step of the automated parcels sorting system, a barcode is scanned — be it by a machine or a human sorter — it sends a signal to Canada Post’s servers, to let the customers know where their packages are. The facility is also ergonomically designed for employees and incorporates physical inspections by Canada Border Services for incoming international mail.

The overall benefits of the new facility within the entire postal chain are:

Find out more details about the Canada Post and Customs CDS Facility here

WCO–UPU cooperation - Facilitating the exchange of electronic customs declaration infor mation

Established in 1964, this joint committee develops procedures and publications to guide Post–Customs work at the national and international level.

The objective of this specific project is to develop a standardized interface between the UPU software (Customs Declaration System – CDS) and UNCTAD’s Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), which will enable designated postal operators to exchange electronic advance data (EAD) on merchandise with customs administrations that are using ASYCUDA.
Current status:
The way forward will be to deploy the interface in other countries ready to engage in the exchange of EAD. El Salvador, Georgia, Moldova and the Solomon Islands, among others, have expressed an interest in the interface.
The first pilot was successfully conducted in 2017-2018 in cooperation with the Royal Gibraltar Post Office (RGPO), and H.M. Customs Gibraltar and tested the AW–UPU CDS interfacing module.
A national implementation project started in 2020 between the Georgian Revenue service and the Georgian Post, who are now exchanging pre-arrival declaration data. In 2021 another post-customs interface project is planned to start in Vanuatu to effectively incorporate the postal stream to the national single window environment, facilitating cross-border e-commerce and trade.
How to enroll?
The customs administrations in the interested countries will need to formally request the implementation of the AW–UPU CDS interfacing module through their UNCTAD/ASYCUDA project manager/regional coordinator.

Interface sample:
Comprehensive risk management through the use of selectivity criteria has been identified as a next step for the interface development.