What is CONFIAD?
The CONFIAD Pan European Network (Confédération des Agents en Douane), International Federation of Customs Brokers and Customs Representatives, was founded in 1982 as organisation of the European Customs Brokers, with the purpose to defend and coordinate the professional interests of its members, supporting an harmonisation of the legislative, professional and customs regulations at European level.
Customs brokers, aslo know as "customs agents", are natural or legal persons whose main duty is to assist importers and exporters in the customs clearance, and in general, in the fulfilment of all the customs operations and formalities related to the international movement of goods.
A definition of "customs agent" can be found in the "Glossary of International Customs Terms" of the World Customs Organization, that defines the customs clearing agents as "[a] person who carries on the business of arranging for the Customs clearance of goods and who deals directly with the Customs for and on behalf of another person".
CONFIAD represents its members to the EU institutions and to other public and private administrations and organisations.
CONFIAD embodies 20 000 companies (mainly Small and Medium size Enterprises) providing customs services and employing about 25 000 workers all over the European Union.
The customs representative in the EU Customs Code
The EU Customs Code (Reg. (EEC) No 2913/92 of the Council) provides in article 5 that "any person may appoint a representative in his dealings with the customs authorities to perform the acts and formalities laid down by customs rules". This same article says also that such representation may be:
"- direct, in which case the representative shall act in the name of and on behalf of another person, or
- indirect, in which case the representative shall act in his own name but on behalf of another person".
A Member State may restrict the right to make customs delcarations by direct or indirect representation.
The Modernized Customs Code (Reg. (EU) No 405/2008 of the Council) introduces for the first time a definition of "customs representative", as "any person appointed by another person to carry out acts and formalities required under the customs legislation in his dealing with customs authorities".
The customs representatives will continue to have the possibility to choose between direct and indirect representation, but Member States will not have the possibility to restrict the right to make customs declarations by direct or indirect representation.
However, Member States will have the possibility to define the conditions under which a customs representative may provide services in the Member State where he is established. The conditions to provide services in a Member State other than the one the customs representative is established are provided at EU level and are those laid down for the Authorized Economic Operator 'customs semplifications' (AEO-C).
The importance of the Customs Brokers / Customs Representatives for trade and States
The Customs Brokers / Customs representatives are:
- facilitators of trade and
- they guarantee the correct recovery of the financial resources of the States.
In the CONFIAD's members States, the customs brokers / customs representatives must hold a valid State-released licence in order to perform any kind of customs activity on behalf of third parties. In particular, each customs intermediary is required to be registered or accredited before customs and to prove the holding of a special competence, knowledge and reliability requirements with regards to the customs procedures.
The requirements of "competence" and "knowledge" usually entail a preliminary assessment by the public authorities, which is performed through an exam combined with a period of practice. This process guarantee to enterprises and to National customs authorities to work with high professional customs experts. This increase also the level of safety and security within the EU's territory.
Without customs brokers / customs representatives, probably a lot of Small and Medium Enterprises could not do business, as they do not have the knowledge and the professionalism to perform customs formalities.