Pilot for unique consignment number to be implemented

A unique number implemented by the finance ministry will keep track of cross-border trade and shorten the time taken up by data capturing.

03 November 2020 | Ministries

Jacqueline Gawanas; Customs and excise; “This will result in less cumbersome formalities and procedures at ports of entry and exit. . .”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]

A stakeholder engagement session on the implementation of unique consignment reference (UCR) numbers was hosted in Walvis Bay under the ministry of finance.

The UCR number is a World Customs Organisation (WCO) recommendation to identify a consignment internationally for cross-border traceability.

The UCR number implementation is a project by the Customs Modernisation Programme, within the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU). The number forms part of a new requirement within the customs clearance operations and the ASYCUDA World System.

Once implemented, this number will be unique to Namibia.

Jacqueline Gawanas, the acting commissioner for customs and excise, said the Customs Modernisation Programme afforded the ministry the opportunity to reform the customs environment but also the entire trade facilitation spectrum.

“It is a known fact the Southern Africa region is beset with challenges that impact on the pace of movement of cargo, which ultimately affects intra-regional trade levels.”

In the face of these developments, Customs Administrations are transforming their operating environments to cope with the increased needs and demands from traders and travellers as well as to contribute to improvement in the trading environment.

“As a consequence, the role of Customs Administrations has shifted from gate keeping and revenue collection to creating a balance between the collection of revenue, the facilitation of trade and the protection of economic interests and of society.”

Gawanas said the changing face of global business models necessitates that Customs Administrations play a greater role in reducing transactional costs faced by traders, thereby facilitating trade across borders.


The implementation of the UCR number will contribute to trade and facilitation in the frameworks of the international supply chain.

“It will also facilitate the implementation of the Information Technology Utility Business (IT UB) “Your Export is My Entry' (YEME) Process. This will ensure the traceability of consignments and facilitate trade date reconciliation. Additionally, the UCR will assist in the alignment with the World Customs Data Model and aid in the consignment pre-clearance process.”

The number will make it possible to identify fraudulent ghost declarations and provide transparency and visibility in the supply chain.

According to the acting commissioner, the value derived will also enhance administrative efficiencies related to cross-border trade.

“This will result in less cumbersome formalities and procedures at ports of entry and exit; automated processes and procedures to allow timely information exchange; and a culture of conformity to rules and procedures by the business community.”

The ministry will be piloting the UCR from mid-November for three months with the South African Revenue Service, whereafter the ministry aims to implement the UCR in March 2021.

The UCR will be provided by custom officials only, and not by clearing and forwarding agents.

New policy for agents

The acting commissioner elaborated on the new policy for clearing and forwarding agents, saying with the new policy, clearing and forwarding agents needs to be registered with the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), provide a police clearance certificate and write a written test.

Gawanas said that agents already registered will have until 31 December 2020 to re-register under the new policy.

“After 31 December, if agents have not been subjected to the new policy, its tough luck. Their license will not be renewed automatically as it was done in the past.”

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