Centralized Community Customs Clearance (CCCC): Simplifying customs clearance procedures

Centralized Community Customs Clearance (CCCC): Simplifying customs clearance procedures

Community centralized clearance (CCD) is a significant development in European customs, established by the Customs Code of the Union (CCU), which became effective on May 1, 2016. However, it is important to note that, although the CDU introduced the concept of DCC, the actual implementation and harmonization of customs systems across member states took time, with the first DCC approvals issued well after this date. Indeed, full adoption of the mechanism is still in progress, and to date only a limited number of DCC approvals have been granted. Prior to the introduction of the DCC, a similar system existed under the name Procédure de Dédouanement Unique Communautaire (PDUC), while Dédouanement Centralisé National (DCN) was known as Procédure de Dédouanement Unique (PDU), although rarely used as such.

The DCC offers a significant simplification of customs clearance procedures for companies carrying out transactions across the various member states of the European Union. It enables Authorized Economic Operators - Certification of Conformity (AEO-C), which is the minimum level required, to declare their goods in a single member state, regardless of the goods' point of entry or final destination within the Union. It should be emphasized that, although AEO-C offers access to the DCC, obtaining the status of Authorized Economic Operator - Full (AEO-F), which combines AEO-C and AEO-S (Security) certification, is generally preferable and offers additional advantages. This initiative aims to facilitate and accelerate cross-border trade, while improving the security and efficiency of customs controls.

Introducing the DCC concept

Specific targeting of AEO-C / AEO-F companies

Community centralized customs clearance is designed to benefit mainly companies with Authorized Economic Operator status. Although AEO-C (Certification of Conformity) status is the basic level of access to the benefits of CCD, it should be noted that this represents only the minimum threshold for eligibility. Companies with this certification are recognized by customs authorities as meeting rigorous criteria of reliability, solvency, and compliance with customs and supply chain security standards.

Access to the DCC enables these economic operators to simplify and optimize their customs procedures, promoting smoother, more efficient management of their cross-border operations within the EU. This contributes not only to the security but also to the efficiency of trade, by enabling customs declarations to be centralized in one member state, irrespective of the goods' point of entry or final destination.

However, companies are encouraged to aim beyond the AEO-C level, towards the status of Authorized Economic Operator - Full (AEO-F), which encompasses both conformity certification and security certification (AEO-S), thus offering additional advantages in terms of customs simplifications and facilitated security and safety checks.

Importance and implementation context

The major advantage of EU centralized customs clearance lies in its ability to align customs practices with the requirements of contemporary international trade. In an increasingly globalized economic world, where the speed and efficiency of logistics operations are essential, the DCC equips European companies with AEO-C / AEO-F status with major strategic leverage. Rather than reducing administrative barriers, the DCC centralizes them, enabling more consistent and efficient management of customs operations. This centralization promotes economic growth within the European Union and enhances its attractiveness as an international investment destination.

Setting up the DCC required sustained cooperation between the various customs administrations of the member states and economic operators, aimed at effective harmonization towards this innovative system. Particular emphasis was placed on the development and upgrading of advanced IT infrastructures, capable of efficiently managing the centralized processing of customs information. In addition, the importance of training all stakeholders in the revised procedures was emphasized, ensuring smooth and successful adoption of the system. Successful implementation of the DCC depends on a continued commitment to innovation, simplifying business processes, while maintaining optimum levels of security and control at the EU's external borders.

DCC legislative framework

The adoption of Community centralized customs clearance (CCD) marked a decisive turning point in the simplification of cross-border trade procedures within the European Union. This legislative initiative, aimed at improvingefficiency and enhancing security, is designed to make life easier for European companies by offering them a unified customs clearance system.

At the heart of this reform, the DCC aims to centralize and optimize customs procedures, gradually relying on digitization to streamline administrative procedures. Contrary to the perception of a regulatory labyrinth that prevailed in the past, customs operations did not systematically require complex navigation through various national regulations, thanks in particular to Transit, enabling the movement of goods under customs control across the EU to the place of final clearance. The DCC goes a step further by offering centralized customs declarations, further simplifying this process by enabling a single declaration for all transactions within the EU, regardless of the country of transit or final destination of the goods.

This centralization is intended to bring greater consistency anduniformity to the processing of customs operations, which are essential for increasing the efficiency of trade and minimizing the associated operational costs.

Main objectives of the DCC

The objectives of the DCC are manifold, and are in line with the EU's ambitions to create a more integrated and competitive economic area:

  • Administrative simplification: By enabling companies to process their customs obligations via a single point of contact, the DCC eliminates redundant procedures and reduces administrative complexity.
  • Faster trade: Centralizing customs declarations under the CCD can lead to faster release of goods, a particularly pronounced advantage for holders ofAEO-F status. Although AEO-C status offers prioritization in the processing of files, it is really the AEO-F that materializes.
  • Cost savings: By reducing the need for multiple IT investments and streamlining procedures, DCC enables companies to make significant savings.
  • Enhanced security: Thanks to improved traceability of exchanges and centralized data analysis, the DCC helps to strengthen the security of commercial transactions within the EU.

Implementation and adoption by companies

To benefit from the DCC, companies must comply with a set of criteria and procedures established by the EU, including obtaining prior authorization. This involves a detailed assessment of the company's logistical and administrative capabilities, as well as its compliance with European customs standards.

The adoption of the DCC by European companies reflects their desire to optimize their business operations and adapt to the challenges of international trade. By facilitating customs procedures, the DCC not only makes for greater efficiency, but also enables companies to concentrate more on value-added activities.

DCC operation

Community centralized customs clearance (CCD) is based on innovative principles designed to facilitate trade within the EU. At the heart of this system are two key aspects: centralization of administrative procedures and unbundling of flows.

Basic principles of DCC

Community Centralized Customs Clearance (CCC) revolutionizes the way companies manage their customs obligations within the European Union. Thanks to DCC, it is now possible for companies to submit a single customs declaration to the designated centralizing office, covering all their transactions throughout the EU, regardless of the point of entry or exit of the goods. This significant simplification enables companies to centralize their customs management in a single office, making cross-border operations considerably easier.

Unlike a more direct perception of connection between companies and customs administrations in different member states, the centralization of the DCC takes place at the level of the customs systems themselves. These systems are interconnected across the EU, enabling efficient communication and processing of customs data. Companies interact exclusively with their centralizing office, which acts as the single point of contact for all their customs declarations. It is this computerized architecture that makes such centralization possible, underlining the DCC's major benefit: simplifying customs procedures while maintaining a high level of security and efficiency in the processing of cross-border commercial transactions.

Separating declarative and physical flows

A key feature of the DCC is its ability to separate the declarative flow (information on goods) from the physical flow (the actual movement of goods). This means that goods can be presented and inspected in any Member State, while administrative procedures are centralized in the Member State where the company is approved. This unbundling contributes to greater logistical efficiency and reduced border waiting times.

DCC benefits

Implementing the DCC brings a host of benefits, reflecting the EU's commitment to supporting internal and international trade.

Adaptability and flexibility

The DCC offers companies remarkable adaptability, enabling them to manage their customs operations more flexibly. This adaptability is particularly beneficial for companies operating in several member states, enabling them to adjust quickly to changes in their supply chains.

Logistics fluidity and optimization

By centralizing customs procedures, the DCC facilitates smoother logistics management, enabling companies to reduce processing times and optimize their operations. This fluidity is crucial to maintaining competitiveness in a globalized market.

Cutting lead times and costs

Among the benefits offered by Community centralized clearance (CCD), cost optimization is particularly noteworthy. By consolidating customs procedures through a single point of contact, companies benefit from a reduction in the operational costs associated with customs management. This saving is all the more significant in that it eliminates the need to move goods to different approved customs clearance locations, thus generating significant economies of scale.

As for the reduction in lead times, this needs to be qualified. Although the DCC simplifies certain procedures, the reduction in time required is not always as significant as expected. Indeed, the process is similar to a less restrictive internal transit, but this does not constitute a revolution in terms of processing speed for all companies. Nevertheless, this simplification can contribute to greater predictability and smoother management of customs operations, which is advantageous in the global context of supply chains.

Implementation procedure

The implementation of the DCC is supported by a structured process, ensuring a smooth transition for companies.

Customs support

Companies benefit from personalized support from customs services, guiding them through the various stages of DCC implementation. This support is essential to ensure that companies understand the requirements and take full advantage of the system's benefits.

Authorization process

Obtaining authorization to use the DCC requires a rigorous assessment by the customs authorities, who examine the company's ability to comply with the required standards and procedures. This process ensures that only suitably prepared and compliant companies can access the system.

Test and adjustment phase

Before full implementation, a test phase is often carried out to ensure that processes are working as intended. This step enables any necessary adjustments to be identified and made, ensuring a smooth transition to DCC.

Practical DCC management

The implementation of Community Centralized Customs Clearance (CCC) is transforming the management of customs operations by simplifying and centralizing the necessary procedures. This practical approach to CCD revolutionizes two crucial aspects for companies: VAT management and the submission of statistical declarations.

Centralization of procedures

Centralization is the cornerstone of Community centralized customs clearance (CCD), offering companies the option of submitting their customs declarations via a designated centralized office. This practice, independent of the point of entry or final destination of goods within the European Union, greatly simplifies the management of customs operations. By eliminating the need to interact with several customs offices for each transaction, the DCC reduces administrative complexity and contributes to a reduction in logistics costs.

It is important to note that, although the DCC favors a centralized approach, the term "centralization" here is clearly distinct from the "one-stop shop" concept often associated with the declaration and verification environment for trade-related licenses. For the avoidance of doubt, the essence of the DCC lies in its ability to consolidate customs declarations through a central point of contact, thus optimizing processes without confusing them with the functional specifics of the single window.

VAT and statistical returns management

A major innovation introduced by the DCC is the simplified management of VAT on cross-border transactions. Companies can now fulfill their VAT obligations in the Member State in which they are registered, thus facilitating tax compliance. In addition, the DCC enables more efficient management of statistical declarations (Intrastat), essential for tracking trade movements within the EU. These improvements contribute to greater transparency and a reduction in administrative burdens for economic operators.

Impact on companies and logistics

The adoption of the DCC has a profound impact on companies of all sizes, as well as on all logistics schemes within the EU.

Benefits for companies of all sizes

The DCC levels the playing field for companies of all sizes, from SMEs to multinationals. This increased accessibility supports the expansion of business activities beyond national borders, promoting economic growth and innovation throughout the European single market.

Influence on logistics patterns

The DCC's impact on logistics patterns is also significant. By facilitating faster processing of goods across borders, DCC enables companies to optimize their supply and distribution chains. This increased efficiency translates into better inventory management, reduced border waiting times and an improved ability to respond to market demands in real time. DCC thus contributes to greater logistical flexibility, essential for adapting to the changing dynamics of international trade.

Towards a simplified, integrated future for European trade

Community Centralized Customs Clearance (CCC) represents a significant step forward in the way trade and logistics are managed within the European Union. By offering a simplified procedure for customs declarations, the DCC brings a multitude of benefits that resonate throughout the entire European trade ecosystem.

The centralization and simplification of customs procedures, the optimized management of VAT and statistical declarations, and the positive impact on logistics patterns are the pillars of the increased efficiency brought about by the DCC. For companies, this means reduced costs and lead times, greater adaptability to market demands, and enhanced competitiveness on the international stage. The DCC thus promotes deeper integration of the European internal market, by eliminating administrative barriers to cross-border trade.

The future of trade and logistics within the EU, shaped by the DCC and other similar initiatives, looks promising. With the increasing adoption of digital solutions and the further harmonization of customs practices, the EU is moving towards an even more integrated and efficient trade area. This is crucial to meeting the challenges of global trade, and to securing Europe's position as a major economic player on the world stage.


  1. What is DCC?
    CCD, or Community Centralized Customs Clearance, is a system that enables companies to carry out their customs clearance operations at a single customs office in the EU, regardless of where the goods enter or leave.
  2. Who can benefit from DCC?
    The benefits of Community centralized customs clearance (CCD) are not exclusively reserved for companies with Authorized Economic Operator - Certification (AEO-C) status, but are also available to companies with AEO-F (Full) status, combining the advantages of conformity (C) and safety (S) certification. Although AEO-C is the minimum access level to benefit from the CCD, obtaining AEO-F status can offer additional advantages. Customs representatives can also use the DCC to facilitate customs clearance operations for their AEO-C / AEO-F customers.
  3. What are the main benefits of DCC?
    The main advantages of the DCC include administrative simplification by centralizing customs clearance operations,cost optimization by reducing the need for IT investment and streamlining procedures, and improved security thanks to better traceability and data analysis. The reduction in lead times is more nuanced, and particularly beneficial for companies with AEO-F status, who can experience an acceleration in trade due to fewer customs controls.
  4. How does a company gain access to the DCC?
    Access to the DCC requires authorization from the customs authorities, who evaluate the company on the basis of strict criteria such as compliance with customs standards, solvency, reliability, and safety and security measures. It is important to stress that the company must be certified as an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO), either as an AEO-C for the basic level, or ideally as an AEO-F to benefit fully from the advantages of the DCC. The DCC is an engine of transformation for trade and logistics within the European Union, providing a platform for sustained economic growth and deeper integration of the internal market. Its continued implementation promises to enhance the efficiency, flexibility and competitiveness of European businesses in the global economy.

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