The Netherland’s Tax and Customs Administration has signed agreements with APM Terminals (APMT), Europe Container Terminals (ECT) and Rotterdam World Gateway (RWG) to end the need of physical customs documents when transferring containers between Maasvlakte terminals.

The new paperless transfer system aims to reduce administrative workload, particularly for shipping lines, as well as simplifying the exchange of containers between terminals.

Maasvlakte, which is a part of Europoort, a harbour and industrial area near Rotterdam in the Netherlands, has five deep-sea container terminals, which will be ready to implement the new system.

"Paperless transfers simplify the transport of containers from one terminal to the other and improve Rotterdam’s competitive position."

Containers, which arrive at one terminal, are regularly required to be shipped on via a different terminal.

Similarly, tens of thousands of containers also need to be shipped on via a different terminal every year, and this number is estimated to increase in coming years, partly as a result of shifts in alliances formed by the shipping companies.

Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO Allard Castelein said: "Paperless transfers simplify the transport of containers from one terminal to the other and improve Rotterdam’s competitive position.

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"The next step will be the construction of the container exchange route, which allows for the transport of containers between terminals via a closed system. According to our planning, this project will be rounded off within two years.

"The agreements presently entered into regarding paperless transfers will also apply to the container exchange route."

It is noted that European customs legislation recently started providing the option of transferring containers from one terminal to the other, under specific conditions, without further paperwork.

The Association of Rotterdam Shipbrokers and Agents (VRC), the participating container terminals, as well as the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration and the Port of Rotterdam Authority have made agreements to take advantage of this new legislation and offer paperless transfers at the Maasvlakte area.

In future, the paperless concept could be introduced to other container terminals in the port of Rotterdam.

Image: Port of Rotterdam along with APMT, ECT and RWG will launch paperless inter-terminal moves. Photo: courtesy of Port Of Rotterdam.