A. General Information

1. Title

SGS eCert Platform

2. Implementation period of the project/service:
4. Geographical coverage
Participating countries: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Hub Point: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
5. Participating agencies/entities of the project/service:
a. Development stage
Lead agencies/entities
Other participating agencies/entities
b. Operational stage
Lead agencies/entities (op)
Chambers of Commerce
Other participating agencies/entities (op)
Government (HM Revenue & Customs (UK))
6. Main stakeholders/beneficiaries of the service
Traders (big enterprises)
Traders (SMEs)
Customs brokers
7. Business process category of the service
Commercial Transactions
Forwarding and cargo handling
Regulatory/official control

B. Lessons Learned

8. Summary description of the project/service
Brief Summary


a. Objective(s)

To modernise, automate, reduce the bureaucracy, administrative burden and cost for exporting organisations where the importing country requires certification of origin.

b. Business need for the service (background)

Chambers of Commerce have for decades acted as an independent authority in determining the origin of goods, on behalf of traders, to facilitate international trade. Before the concept of eCert, in the late 1990's. the application process was completely manual and time-consuming for both the trader and Chamber of Commerce. eCert was created to provide automation to the application and issue of non-preference Certificates of Origin. The benefits were quickly realised, and the service was further extended to include preference certificates, ATA Carnet's, International Import Certificates and certified invoices.

c. Business process covered*

Application by trader and issue by Chamber of Commerce of Certificates of Origin (preference and non-preference), ATA Carnet, International Import Certificates and certified invoices. Automation through advanced user interface, stored data records, integration with trader business system to pre-populate document data, electronic stamping of documents by Chamber of Commerce, QR barcode security feature and link to International Chamber of Commerce verification system.

d. Overall architecture and functionalities*

Web application (browser) for both trader and Certificate of Origin with SQL server database and API/web service integration for document data upload and link to Chamber of Commerce accounting systems to manage invoicing of service charges to Chamber clients.

e. Relevant document/figure
9. Documents and data exchanged via the service

Documents: Non-preference Certificates of Origin, Preference Certificates of Origin, ATA Carnet, International Import Certificate, Certified Invoice. Data exchange (main fields): Consignor, Consignee, Applicant, Origin Countries, Goods Description, Weight of goods, Value of Goods, Manufacturer of Goods.

10. Data models/databases, proprietary solutions, hybrid approaches

Due to the volume of users, applications and historic data held within SGS eCert, the best solution for the main activity of processing applications remains SQL Server Database, which is optimised for speed of data retrieval. To this point our approach to trust and acceptance at the point of importation has been QR barcode to allow the customs authority to independently verify that the certificate has not been altered since issue, either via the SGS eCert website or International Chamber of Commerce website.

11. Main challenges faced during the service

When the SGS eCert service was launched in year 2000, it was the first eCO platform and so the main challenge was transition of traders who were required to change their long-standing manual processes. Additional, Customs authorities in the country of importation needed to build a level of trust for the new process. A challenge for SGS and for all Chambers of Commerce is the inconsistency of Certified documents globally. The rules and documents are mainly standardised but not completely.

12. Lessons learned from the service

Technology and requirements are always changing. Since the launch of SGS eCert, continuous development has been required to maintain the service.

13. Main benefit(s) of the service
Enhanced regulatory compliance* -- rate: 50%
Transaction Cost savings* -- rate: 25%
Transaction Time savings
Simplified process
13A. Elaborations/detailed description on benefits gained

The time required by traders to apply for certified documents has significantly reduced as a result of the automation of the application process. The cost of applying for certified documents has reduced now that the transaction is electronic between the trader and Chamber of Commerce (no postal or courier charge). The SGS eCert service guides the user and prevents basic errors through validation of data before submission.

14. Technical/financial/capacity building/other assistance

Commercial service, delivered with no cost to the trader and a small transaction charge for the Chamber of Commerce to cover future development and helpdesk service.

15. Future plan for expansion of the service

Expansion to other Chambers of Commerce, automation with OCR and machine learning.

16. Other information or relevant references on the service
17. Relevant document regarding the service

C. Relevant Standards

19. Electronic message standard
19A. Electronic message standard supporting the service
19B. Type of standard for electronic message applied for the service
Proprietary solution
Proprietary solution was applied because:
- Need to adhere to existing ones, due to such reason as complying to requirements from partners and users
- When created in early 2000's, there were not any standards!
20. Technical communication standard
20A. Technical communication standard supporting the service
20B. Type of technical communication standard applied for the service
Industry-specific standard
21. Security-related standards*
21A. Security-related standard supporting the service
TLS (Transport Layer Security) / SSL (Secure Socket Layer)
21B. Type of security-related standard applied for the service
Industry-specific standard
22. Other Technical Information
22A. Interface developed for data exchange with an internal system
Web service, API or FTP
22B. Other technical implementation information