Pre-Arrival Processing for Express Consignments

Since June 2020 the electronic customs Pre-Arrival Processing (PAP) for express consignments is officially in regular operation in Serbia. The completed project aimed to reduce time and costs for express shipments and speed up the customs clearance by arrival of time-critical goods.


The volume of trade has increased continuously in Serbia, while the resources available to customs and other border agencies have remained constant. Therefore, modernization of customs procedures through automation and risk-based selectivity in order to expedite the release of goods has been inevitable. Imports and exports in Serbia have been characterized by manual controls, resulting in lengthy waiting times and high costs. Thus, the Serbian government has prioritized reform measures for customs processes, one of which was the electronic PAP.


The project supported development and implementation of customs best practices and risk management techniques for expedited shipments, including the pre-arrival lodging and processing of goods declarations. Following steps were implemented to meet the requirements:

  • Establishment of the legal and regulatory framework for PAP of express consignments with adjustments of internal instructions and circulars towards the EU law to the extent possible and desirable.
  • Development of a solution open for all businesses (on import and export).
  • Development of procedural practices and functionalities in the customs IT system:
  • Fully electronic; no paper declarations
  • Categorization of shipments: 1) documents and correspondence, 2) de minimis and samples, 3) shipments under statistical threshold, 4) any other shipment.
  • Capacity-building for customs officials and the private sector.

All activities were planned and implemented within a partnership of equals by the Serbian customs administration, express operators (DHL, Fedex, UPS), the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and the GIZ. The PAP projects in Montenegro and Serbia were used as a basis for upscaling in further countries in the region: Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Kosovo and North Macedonia.


  • Amount of expedited shipments cleared by customs within the first hour after arrival increased from 38% to 50%. For shipment categories 1 and 2 this figure is expected to rise up to 80%.
  • New capacities of Serbia’s customs authority to digitize processes.
  • Increased trust and collaboration between public and private partners.
  • Serbian customs aspires to extend the scope of PAP to postal services and further reduce time and costs for trade procedures.

Photo credits: Siwakorn1933 –

Relation to the Trade Facilitation Agreement

This project contributes towards the implementation of the following article of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation:

  • Article 7.1: Release and Clearance of Goods: Pre-Arrival Processing
  • Article 7.4: Release and Clearance of Goods: Risk Management
  • Article 7.8: Release and Clearance of Goods: Expedited Shipments

How to get involved

Do you work for a company with international supply chains? Please contact us if you would like to learn more about the project and the Alliance.