Customs declarations in South Korea are processed in 1.5 hours

In March 2021, customs declarations in South Korea were processed in 1.5 hours, up from 2 hours, on average, in 2015.

Above all, the time savings were due to the expansion of electronic customs clearance using artificial intelligence to low-risk cargo since 2019.

According to the WTO, import declarations can be submitted before the entry of the goods (up to five days before when it comes to shipments by sea and one day in advance for air shipments).

Almost all imports (99% in March 2021, and around 96% in 2016) are cleared after the goods are moved to an area under customs control.

Likewise, the time elapsed from entering the port to leaving the warehouse was, on average, 1.4 days in March 2021, which represents a decrease compared to 1.9 days in May 2016.

That’s why the Korea Customs Service (KCS) prides itself on providing the fastest shipping processing service in the world.

KCS contends that the average time for customs clearance of imports is less than 1.5 hours (less than two minutes for export clearance).

Customs declarations

Since 2017, KCS conducted clearance time studies using computerized systems in accordance with WCO guidelines.

A cargo selectivity system automatically selects the high-risk cargo for documentary inspection and possible physical inspection; Between 2011 and 2015, an annual average of 3% of customs clearances were subject to physical inspection.

Upon request, KCS uses an immediate “dock” clearance system whereby clearance and inspection are performed at the pier, if all goods are shipped in a single container for a single owner in ports main cities of Busan, Incheon, Gwangyang and Pyeongtaek.

Customs clearance, including declaration procedures, and cargo management systems remain fully computerized.

International Trade

KCS uses a seven-field paperless electronic clearance system (UNI-PASS, a KCS trademark) for export and import clearance operations, cargo management, duty collection, duty drawback and a one-stop-shop system that addresses prescription and confirmation procedures, including quarantine and inspection.

The UNI-PASS portal, which allows commercial and customs formalities to be carried out at any time without the need to visit government entities, continues to be exported to other countries and was last updated in April 2016.


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