Finland develops user-friendly duty calculatorBy Päivi Maunuksela-Malinen, Senior Customs Officer, Customer Service Specialist, Finnish Customs
Finnish Customs has developed an online Customs duty calculator, enabling consumers buying goods online to easily determine the amount of Customs duty and value added tax (VAT) that they more than likely have to pay to clear their goods.
Users must first select the types of goods they are ordering, select the region where the goods originate (EU Customs territory / non-EU tax territory / non-EU), select the currency in which they bought the products, indicate the price of the goods, and indicate the transport and processing costs.
The system then calculates the amounts of Customs duty and VAT that are potentially payable, and then gives an explanation of the clearance process according to who will transport the consignment (postal operator or a carrier).
The amount indicated by the Customs duty calculator is only referential and not all categories of goods are listed by the tool. However, it goes a long way to informing users of what buying goods online involves.
This project is an example of innovative and agile development work. The development started in cooperation with university students, then a beta version of the calculator was published to get users’ feedback to allow for changes before the final version was released.
In the six months after the calculator was made available online, its use has already increased more than tenfold, reaching over 65,000 page loads a month. Users have welcomed its practicality and the way search results can be easily visualized via graphics, with some comments saying “this is the best use of tax payers’ money ever!”, or “finally something that a normal citizen can understand.”