Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Customs Enforcement and Your Mail

tags:  customs, customs forms, international mail, intellectual property, World Customs Organization (WCO)

The European Union has released an interesting report on customs enforcement of intellectual property rights in the EU.  (Intellectual property rights or IPR encompasses primarily infringements of copyright, trademark, patent, and proprietary processes or technologies.)  In 2011 there were 91,245 cases that involved 114,772,812 articles with a total value of € 1,272,354,795 (approximately US$ 1,635,230,400).  This was an increase of slightly more than 14.5% in value and over 11% in the number of articles from 2010, while the number of cases increased by more than 15%. 

In general, a greater increase in the number of cases than in articles indicates an increase in smaller shipments.  There has been an increase for the second year in a row in the number of cases related to postal shipments, which tend to be small shipments.  In 2009, 34.43% of the cases were attributed to postal transport.  In 2011, that had increased to 62.91% of the cases. 

While medicines account for a major proportion of the articles, shoes, clothing, personal accessories, electrical household goods, and mobile phone accessories each make up a significant portion of the total.   "All other categories" is 28.79% of the articles and 32.58% of the cases.   

More problems with IPR at customs mean more enforcement efforts and more inspections.  Postal operators are also changing their requirements to conform to the World Customs Organization (WCO) requirements.  (More information is being passed electronically.)  This has lead to the recent changes in customs documentation requirements by the USPS and other postal operators. 

All of this can in turn lead to delays for customs inspections.  You can help ensure smooth and timely transport of your items by making sure your shipments have proper documentation.  Check with any shipping service you use to verify that the customs information is correct and the forms are up-to-date.  The postal regulations for many postal operators are available on their web sites – search for customs or the local equivalent. 

If you ship or mail any kind of goods, you should take a look at the EU report, available at

The press release for the report can be read at




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