A. General Information

1. Title

EU SEED (Systematic Electronic Exchange of Data)

2. Status of the project
3. Implementation period of the project/service:
5. Geographical coverage
Regional: Europe
Participating countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia
6. Participating agencies/entities of the project/service:
a. Development stage
Lead agencies/entities
Italian Customs and Monopolies Agency
Other participating agencies/entities
Customs Administrations of Albania, Indirect Tax Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Customs Administration of Montenegro, Customs Administration of North Macedonia, Customs Administration of Serbia, Kosovo* Customs Service.
b. Operational stage
Lead agencies/entities (op)
CEFTA (Central European Free Trade Agreement) Secretariat and Italian Customs and Monopolies Agency
Other participating agencies/entities (op)
Customs Administrations of Albania, Indirect Tax Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Customs Administration of Montenegro, Customs Administration of North Macedonia, Customs Administration of Serbia, Kosovo* Customs Service.
7. Main stakeholders/beneficiaries of the project
Traders (SMEs)
Customs brokers
Other Government Agencies (OGAs)
OGAs and Traders to be included in the next SEED+ Phase
8. Business process category of the project
Regulatory/official control

B. Lessons Learned

9. Summary description of the project/service
Brief Summary

SEED is the System for Exchange of Excise Data online verification. It provides a service to verify an Excise Number with a standard web browser and allows for systematic electronic exchange of pre-arrival information, data matching and alarm function for procedures.

a. Objective(s)

To make available of pre-arrival data at the moment of beginning of customs procedure in the neighbour country (from the Customs Office of Departure – COoDep), and analysis of pre-arrival data using pre-defined risk criteria.

Facilitate the border crossing of the tracks with and without cargo, to enhance risk management procedures, to avail of trusted intelligence information, enhance post clearance audit efficiency. To enable participating Customs Administrations ICT systems to exchange information with relevant external public and private sector stakeholders on national level and or international level.

b. Business need for the project (background)

Improve regional cooperation, enhance risk analyses, provide capacity building activities, as well to improve overall trade facilitation activities in the region.

c. Business process covered*

Pre-arrival information, customs declaration verification, intelligence related processes, overall business processes related to the border management. 

d. Overall architecture and functionalities*

SEED infrastructure established in region is operational and running:

  • 7 SEED nodes (Tirana, Banja Luka, Podgorica, Skopje, Belgrade, Pristina, Rome). Each node is composed by SEED servers and communication equipment,
  • 9 direct bilateral data exchange links + 2 links to the “middle server”: Pristina-Rome and Belgrade-Rome. These links covered all crossing-points inside the region.
  • IT infrastructure and software are in place performing the automatic data matching, alarm module on pre-arrival data.
  • SEED software comprises additional modules: VAT refunds, Cash flow, ATA carnets, Calculation of the Customs Debt, etc.
  • Operational guidelines and instructions for the SEED system usage have been adopted by each Beneficiary Administration.
  • SEED Programme has contributed to improve exchange of data at custom level with a positive impact on intra-regional trade flows.
  • Green corridors/lanes initiative – identification of consignment of priority goods (essential goods – food/feed and medical devices from the WCO/WHO list). Sending of pre-arrival notifications to the responsible inspections, with overall objective of priority passage through BCPs.
  • Common/Regional Risk Profiles (CRP) – proposing of common risk profiles, participation in joint customs action and reporting on efficiency on CRP operations. 
e. Relevant document/figure
10. Documents and data exchanged via the project
  • Single Administrative Document (SAD)
  • SEED messages for Transit Declarations,
  • SEED messages for Export Declarations,
  • SEED message for Import Declarations – this message is used only for data matching, and is not transmitted to the neighbouring country,
  • SEED messages for TIR carnets,
  • SEED messages for ATA carnets,
  • SEED messages for Simplified Procedure accompanied document (Invoice),
  • SEED message for border crossings of the Empty Trucks,
  • Common Risk Profile: 1) request, 2) response and 3) feedback
11. Data models/databases, proprietary solutions, hybrid approaches
  • NCTS IE001 (New Computerised Transit System) and WCO DM (Data Model) v3
  • ECS IE501 (Export control System) and WCO DM (Data Model) v3
  • ICS IE729 (Import control System) and WCO DM (Data Model) v3
  • eTIR data model
  • Data model created on UNECE                                                                  (United Nations Economic Committee for Europe)
12. Main challenges faced during the project

The main challenge was to agree about the common data sets and structures. It was solved by using of international standards (WCO data model and data models of similar EU systems). So, instead demanding data harmonization process, each beneficiary kept its own data models, but for purposes of data exchange, national data models are “transformed” to the commonly agreed models.

13. Lessons learned from the project

Information sharing coordination of processes for cross-border border management within the region can reduce security risks. Systematic data exchange can harmonize customs border procedures. 

14. Main benefit(s) of the project
Enhanced regulatory compliance*
Transaction Time savings
Simplified process
Increased trade flow
14A. Elaborations/detailed description on benefits gained
  • Administrative (organisational and operational) capacity building
  • Prevention of smuggling and enhancement in the fight against organised crime;
  • Prevention of undervaluation – increasing the collection of customs duties;
  • Prevention of corruption;
  • Improvement of ‘Risk analysis’ on the pre-arrival data;
  • Improvement of ‘Risk Profiling’;
  • Opening of Customs IT infrastructure for secure and reliable communication with application and/or IT system of any external stakeholder;
  • Improvement of overall technical capacity of Beneficiary Administrations;
  • Acceleration of customs procedures and facilitation of legitimate trade;
  • Regional Cooperation
  • Promote/improve cross border communication and cooperation;
  • Promote the EU concept of Integrated Border Management (IBM);
  • Encourage countries (BAs) to work together;
  • Provide sustainability in administrative cooperation;
  • Reduce security risks in the Region;

EU integration perspective

  • Excellent Interoperability/Interconnectivity exercise for the Administrations of the Region;
  • Transformations from data models of local Customs Information System to already approved international standards (EU systems messages and WCO DM formats);
  • One step towards a paperless customs (e-customs);
15. Technical/financial/capacity building/other assistance

SEED Projects are funded from EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) multi-country funds.

During the development phase, overall project management was provided by Italian Customs and Monopolies Agency. At present, coordination of financial support from the EU is managed via the CEFTA Secretariat (technical secretariat of participating Customs Administration).

System maintenance and constant improvement is provided by the engaged outsource company.

16. Future plan for expansion of the project

Project in pipeline (SEED+) will include other border agencies in the systematic data exchange: Veterinary, Phytosanitary, Food Inspections and Agencies for Medicines.

In addition to data from the customs declarations, data from:

  • veterinary health certificates for live animals, products of animal origin,
  •  phytosanitary certificate for export (and re-export) and
  • certificate on pharmaceutical products

will be exchanged.

Other relevant stakeholders from public sector (regulatory agencies, responsible ministries, etc.) and private sector (economic operators requesting issuing of certificates, permits or licenses from the competent authorities) will be involved.

17. Other information or relevant references on the project
18. Relevant document regarding the project

C. Relevant Standards

20. Electronic message standard
20A. Electronic message standard supporting the project
- WCO Data Model
20B. Type of standard for electronic message applied for the project
International standard
Technical recommendations from international body(ies)
21. Technical communication standard
21A. Technical communication standard supporting the project
HTTP, SOAP Secure Web Services (HTTPS); Programming language JAVA; Application Server: GlassFish 2.2; DBMS: database G.F.2.2
21B. Type of technical communication standard applied for the project
International standard
22. Security-related standards*
22A. Security-related standard supporting the project
Web Services Security (WS-Security)
22B. Type of security-related standard applied for the project
International standard
23. Other Technical Information
23A. Interface developed for data exchange with an internal system
23B. Other technical implementation information