Optimize customs clearance through automation of customs documents

Customs brokers and customs clearance companies are the experts when it comes to transporting goods across national borders and ensuring that all customs regulations and requirements are met as part of the customs clearance process. But increasing global trade also brings with it an ever-increasing number of customs documents. This increase in orders must be managed, and the automation of customs documents plays an important role in this.

In this blog post, we will explore the efficiency of companies in the customs clearance industry, take a closer look at the impact of customs document automation on the customs clearance process, and highlight the opportunities presented by the use of cutting-edge technologies such as optical character recognition (OCR), machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence, (AI) open up.

The most Important in a Nutshell

  • Customs clearance companies and customs brokers play a crucial role in international trade and logistics, especially given the increasing volume of global trade and the diversity of their services.
  • The scope of duties of customs clearance companies and customs brokers includes services that support in the entire process of customs clearance and ensure safe handling.
  • The customs clearance process includes several steps that can be optimized quickly and efficiently with customized solutions from Konfuzio.
  • Customs document automation offers the opportunity to speed up the customs clearance process, reduce human error and increase efficiency.

Services of customs clearance companies

Customs brokers and customs clearance services play a crucial role in international trade and logistics. They face ever-increasing challenges by having to keep up with the globally rising volume of orders and the wide range of their activities despite a shortage of skilled workers. Some important tasks of customs clearance companies are:

Customs clearance

Customs clearance companies specialize in handling the necessary customs formalities on behalf of their customers. This includes the declaration of goods to the customs authorities and the fulfillment of all legal requirements.

Import customs clearance

For companies importing goods from abroad, customs clearance companies handle the calculation and payment of import duties and taxes due to ensure that the goods reach the destination country quickly and smoothly.

Export customs processing

Customs formalities are also required for export. The customs clearance companies assist with this export documentation and are responsible for ensuring that the goods leave the country of origin legally.

Customs tariff consulting

Customs clearance companies are experts in customs tariffs and classifications. They help customers determine the right tariffs for their goods and ensure that the correct duty rates are applied.

Compliance and customs consulting

Customs legislation is complex and is known for frequent changes. Customs clearance companies offer consulting services so that customers are guaranteed to comply with current laws and regulations. This helps avoid penalties and delays.

Document exhibition

Customs clearance companies prepare and verify all necessary documents required for customs clearance, including commercial invoices, Shipping documents and customs declarations.

Temporary import and export

For temporary imports or exports, customs clearance companies offer temporary customs clearance services, which means that the customs clearance company's customer does not have to pay permanent customs duties.

Special customs procedure

Customs clearance companies are able to assist companies in using special customs procedures such as inward processing, outward processing and duty-free warehousing to minimize costs and optimize overall customs clearance.

Storage and distribution

Some customs clearance companies also offer warehousing and distribution services to support their customers' supply chain.

Technological solutions

Customs clearance companies often invest in modern IT systems and Softwareto automate the customs clearance process and speed it up overall. This enables customers to efficiently exchange data and better track their shipments.

Steps of customs clearance

Collectively, customs clearance companies and customs brokers provide support through a diverse range of services, enabling companies with goods subject to customs clearance to flawlessly manage the complex customs clearance process and compliance.

However, for international trade to continue to flourish, customs clearance companies should not rest on their laurels and, as is the case for any success-driven industry, should constantly monitor each step of the process to continuously improve and adjust as needed.

Automate customs documents

Process outline - customs clearance with practical example

Customs clearance, also referred to as the customs clearance process or customs clearance, comprises a series of work steps carried out by customs clearance companies and agents after an order has been placed. The aim of this process is the legal passage of goods across national borders. Individual work steps in a typical customs clearance process are:

Preparation of goods

In this step, all necessary documents and information about the goods to be cleared are collected. This includes commercial invoices, freight documents, certificates of origin, tariff codes and other relevant documents.


An importer importing electronic equipment from China hires a customs clearance company to handle all customs clearance of its goods. This company then collects the supplier's commercial invoice, the freight forwarder's bill of lading, the goods' certificate of origin and the corresponding HS codes for classification.

Rating and classification

Goods are classified using Harmonized System (HS) codes. These codes determine the tariff rates and regulations that are applied to the goods. The correct tariff classification is crucial to determine the correct customs rates.


The electronic devices are classified by their HS code. The HS code for these devices is 8517.12.00 and exemplifies certain types of cell phones.

Customs value calculation

The customs value of the goods is determined on the basis of the commercial invoice. This value serves as the basis for calculating import duties and taxes.


The commercial invoice indicates that the total value of the equipment is 10,000 USD. This value serves as the basis for calculating import duties and taxes.

Filing the customs declaration

The customs declaration is the official document submitted to the customs authorities. It contains all relevant information about the goods, including their classification, origin, quantity, value and intended use. The declaration is submitted to the customs authorities either in paper form or electronically.


The commissioned customs clearance company submits the customs declaration, which contains all relevant information about the cell phones, to the relevant customs authorities as a representative for the importer. This is usually done online via an electronic customs portal.

Payment of import duties and taxes

After the customs declaration has been submitted, the import duties and taxes due are calculated. The contracted customs clearance company is responsible for the payment of these amounts and usually lays them out for the importer through direct payment to the customs authorities.


After filing the customs declaration, the customs authorities calculate the Import duties and taxes, e.g. 5 % import duty on the value of 10,000 USD, which corresponds to 500 USD. The importer pays this amount to the customs clearance company, then the customs clearance company forwards this amount to the customs authorities (or vice versa, depending on the contract).


Customs authorities examine the submitted customs declaration and accompanying documents to ensure that they comply with applicable laws and regulations. This potentially includes a physical inspection of the goods.


Customs authorities verify the submitted customs declaration and accompanying documents that they comply with applicable laws and regulations. A physical inspection of the equipment is carried out.

Release of goods

After successful inspection and payment of the required duties, the goods are released. These may now cross the border and be imported into the destination country.


After successful testing and payment of the required duties, the cell phones are released. They are now imported into the target country and placed on the market.

Accounting and recording

All documents and records related to the customs clearance process are to be carefully. This is to ensure compliance with customs regulations and traceability.


Instead of the importer, the contracted customs clearance company keeps careful records of customs clearance, including customs declaration and payment documents, to ensure compliance with customs regulations.

Document archiving

The relevant customs documents and records must be archived for a certain period of time in order to be able to reliably answer any queries from the customs authorities and to comply with the statutory retention periods.


All relevant customs documents and records are archived for a prescribed period (usually several years -> read more about legal retention periods here).

Compliance and monitoring

Customs regulations require continuous compliance and consideration of changes in customs regulations. This is an important part of continuous process monitoring and potentially implies regular employee training.


The customs clearance company continuously monitors compliance with customs regulations and keeps its employees informed of any changes in the regulations to ensure that they always act in accordance with the current regulations.

Automation of customs documents with Konfuzio

After we have gone into the individual steps of the customs clearance process, the potential for optimization becomes apparent. At this point, the automation of customs documents with the help of most modern technologies comes into play to speed up the document processing process and improve the accuracy of data extraction: An innovative way to automate and thus fundamentally change the way customs documents are processed with Konfuzio.

Use Case - Customs Document Processing in the Industrial and Logistics Sector

Automation of customs documents Use Case

Using an application example, we highlight the processing of extensive customs documents for a customs agent in the industrial and logistics sector. These documents are crucial to prepare customs declarations in different countries.

Until now, these documents have either been emailed to the customs broker or physically delivered to the facilities. This approach is time-consuming, prone to errors and and requires manual entry and verification of the information in the customs documents.

Achieve customs document automation with Konfuzio

Konfuzio plays a crucial role in this use case to automate and accelerate the processing of customs documents. A step-by-step illustration clarifies how Konfuzio can be used efficiently in this scenario:

Document capture

Konfuzio can be configured so that the technology monitors incoming emails without human intervention and automatically captures attachments that contain customs documents. Alternatively, the software can be set up to digitize and subsequently capture physical documents that arrive at the offices.

Document classification

Konfuzio automatically classifies the captured and digitized documents and analyzes whether they are invoices, customs declarations or other document types. This is done using predefined rules and criteria. The right classification is crucial to control the further processing.

Information extraction

The heart of the intelligent automation process is the Extraction of relevant information from the documents. Konfuzio is able to intelligently extract text, handwriting and relevant data from customs documents by using various technologies, including

  • Invoice number
  • Invoice date
  • Currency
  • Total packages
  • Total net weight
  • Total gross weight
  • Boundary crossing code
  • Truck number
  • Trailer number
  • Country of departure
  • PO/Order number
  • Total amount of the invoice
  • VAT amount
  • Item number(s)
  • Item description(s)
  • Country of origin
  • Preference (yes/no, marked in a separate column on the invoice)
  • Quantity
  • Net weight
  • Gross weight
  • Packages
  • HS code1
  • HS code2
Customs documents customs clearance process automation
Sample of any customs document

and many more. This is done on the basis of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Validation and testing

The extracted information is then validated and checked for accuracy. This step is also fully automated by matching the extracted data with the expected values and patterns. If discrepancies occur, notifications are sent to the responsible employees to make possible corrections manually.

Data export and integration

The extracted and validated data can be integrated with customs declaration systems or other enterprise systems. Konfuzio offers the possibility to integrate data into the Desired format to export and to import into the Workflow of the customs agent to integrate

Advantages of automated customs document processing with Konfuzio

The implementation of Konfuzio offers numerous advantages for companies in the industrial and Logistics sector, who work with voluminous customs documents. Here are some of the key benefits that come with customs document automation:

  • Time saving: Automating the document processing process saves customs service providers time and human resources. Konfuzio captures and classifies documents in the shortest possible time, extracts and validates information in an automated way, which in total leads to faster customs clearance.
  • Reduction of errors: Manual data entry is prone to errors. Konfuzio works accurately and reduces human errors that have potentially serious consequences in customs document processing.
  • Scalability: Konfuzio can be adapted to the specific requirements of the customs agent and easily scaled in both directions - up and down - depending on the order volume. This ensures constant order processing without time loss.
  • Cost reduction: Automation leads to a reduction in physical requirements in the long run, which lowers personnel costs. It also reduces the error rate that could lead to costly rework.
  • Faster decision making: By quickly extracting and validating information, customs agents and clearance companies make informed decisions in a timely manner and prepare customs declarations expeditiously, which in turn optimizes the entire supply chain.
  • Compliance and accuracy: Konfuzio ensures that all relevant information is recorded correctly, ensuring compliance with customs regulations and avoiding potential penalties or delays altogether.

Conclusion - Automation of customs documents is the future of customs clearance

Konfuzio offers a powerful solution for the Automation of customs documents and revolutionizes the entire document processing process for companies in the customs and logistics industry. The implementation of Konfuzio enables customs clearance companies and customs agents to accelerate the document processing process, improve the accuracy of data extraction, and reduce the manual entry of information. This results in more efficient customs processing and significant time and cost savings.

Does your company also work with extensive customs documents? Konfuzio could be the solution you've been looking for. Optimize your business processes and stay competitive even as your order volume increases.

Our experts will advise you in detail what you can achieve in your company with Konfuzio. Write us a message.

    Charlotte Goetz Avatar

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