Karen Wittock, Customs Legal Specialist at Remant Customs, aligns the business interests of our customers with the guidelines issued by Customs. Smooth communication with the authorities and a proactive approach guarantee a well-oiled supply chain. Karen speaks enthusiastically about the everyday challenges she faces in the field of international trade.
How do you support our customers at Remant Customs?
Karen Wittock: “A Customs Architect (customs officer) is a jack of all trades. Besides preparing import, export and transit documents, he also takes care of the licences and certificates that are required for some goods. As a Customs Legal Specialist, besides my knowledge of customs legislation, I also need to keep up-to-date with all the national and international legislation related to the import, export and transit of goods. That way, I can make sure that our customers are fully compliant and can effortlessly trade their goods internationally. In short, my job involves very diverse challenges. So my work is never boring!”
A wide range of tasks with many contacts!
Karen: “As a customs representative for our customers, I play an exciting and crucial role in the logistics world. I’m in constant contact with the customers, the authorities and our international network of partners. After all, many different parties are involved in the trade of goods between countries. The customer and his customers, the carriers, the shipping companies, the customs agency in the country of destination or origin… In short, you cross lots of borders in our job.”
Who do you usually work with?
Karen: ““To be able to do my work efficiently, I have short lines of communication with customers so that I have a good overview of their planning and the countries they want to transport goods to or from. I’m also in close contact with the customs authorities so that we can keep everything running smoothly. I used to think that Customs was only involved in collecting import and export taxes, performing checks on shipments, and so on. But thanks to my work, I now have a completely different picture. It's more of a collaboration between all the different parties. Over the years, we’ve proven that we’re a reliable company and we’ve built up an excellent relationship of trust. In fact, the Customs Administration now regards us as a valued customer. So we can count on the support, advice and the knowledge of the officials there. This means we can perform our tasks with Customs in an optimal setting and provide our customers with a total service package.”
Has the collaboration with Customs changed over the years?
Karen: “Yes, it has evolved a great deal. As a company and a government organisation, we each have our own focus. For example, our aim is to achieve financial optimisation for our customers, whereas Customs focuses more on safety. This is something we can’t ignore. The Customs Code that came into effect in 2016 significantly changed the landscape for Customs but also for companies. This legislation is based on facilitation and automation. And the main building blocks are collaboration, communication, administrative simplification and mutual trust.”
A positive evolution?
Karen: “Definitely! At Remant Customs, we want to give our customers an efficient and effective service. And we can do that because Customs has made its procedures more transparent, has simplified the regulations and is committed to digitisation with electronic declarations, digitally accessible information… Our personal contact and open communication with Customs have helped to make all of this possible. Now we understand each other much better.”
Digitisation has given the international trade of our customers a major boost.
Karen: “Remant Customs has long been a pioneer in the field of digitisation in the customs sector. We specialise in integrating customs tasks in the ERP package and the WMS and TMS systems used by companies. The collaboration with the customer starts with an audit process. This is how we check the quality of the data. After all, everything must be reliable and fully visible. All the data is integrated error-free and made accessible through our systems. IT General Controls (ITGC) supplies logical checks of the infrastructure, application and data-internal control systems. These are the cornerstones of our system-based approach.”
The sector also went through some major developments
Karen: “Very much so! We’re also committed to digital collaboration with the government. In the sector, there has been far-reaching automation using platforms such as C-Point, CPU and CCRM. These stem from the collaboration between Customs and logistics players such as terminals, shipping agents and forwarders. Added to that, the EU has launched a number of IT projects that will be realised in the years to come, such as the UCC Work Program of which ICS is an example. All of these projects should result in further automation and lead to greater efficiency, safety, harmonisation and the correct application of the UCC rules in each Member State. We’re still facing plenty of challenges, but we’ve already made enormous progress.”