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AI for customs risk management of inbound ecommerce parcels: Netherlands and Japan pioneer

Updated: May 13, 2021

A number of customs agencies around the world are currently testing AI and its various applications to administer ecommerce. The Dutch Customs Agency (DCA) adopted AI after it found approximately one in three customs declarations is flawed or fraudulent. DCA had also found that descriptions of products for the same item to vary widely, such as a “smartphone” being called “mobile phone”, “phone”, or “cell phone”.

In response, DCA piloted a web-crawling system that matches the declared value and weight of the inbound items with the prices and weight of the same item sold on online marketplaces. This helped DCA automate work to uncover under-valuation of items and determine the correct tariff and VAT rates for items.

AI can also be used to help buyers and sellers to fill out customs declarations and thereby also better gauge the total cost of the item, including its total tariffs, taxes, and other fees charged by the government. In January 2020, Jamaica introduced an AI-based self-service tool for Jamaicans who buy products online from overseas. Users can access the Jamaican Customs Agency’s website at, insert the desired item’s URL from the online marketplace, and obtain the item’s 10-digit HS code, import duty, and other applicable taxes and fees within seconds, helping them accurately classify a product and determine its total cost before purchase.

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