Zhoushan, an island city in East China's Zhejiang province, started to implement the paperless customs clearance for inbound and outbound ships on May 1.
Through the joint efforts of Zhoushan New Area, Zhoushan Customs, the immigration inspection office and maritime bureau, an official announcement on paperless procedures for customs clearance was released. Thus, Zhoushan became China's first customs clearance port for ships with no paper materials required in the whole process.
Zheng Fangbin, director of the port office of Zhoushan New Area, said that with the authorization of national ministries and commissions, they had decided to abolish the use of paper materials on 44 kinds of items, which meant ships would be able to go through the clearance with only passports and temporary entry permits.
Jiang Tao, a staff member of China Zhoushan Ocean Shipping Agency Co Ltd made a before-and-after comparison, saying, "In the past, I needed to visit the service window at least eight times and spent more than 16 hours for the clearance procedures, but now it only takes me three hours as applications can be done online."
Zheng Binfeng, an experienced manager who has been working with foreign customers for roughly two decades, calculated the benefits that paperless customs clearance will generate.
"Let's take a ship with a daily rent of $150,000 for an example. If the parking fee is 20,000 yuan ($3,149.11) each day and the improved efficiency of customs clearance saves the ship a day, then an economic benefit of at least $80,000 will be brought about."
Zhoushan is a major portal in China for crude oil and ore transportation. Figures from the port office of Zhoushan New Area show that in 2017, there were 10,771 ships passing in and out, and this year, as of now, 3,411 ships have come and gone via Zhoushan port.
The paperless system was a breakthrough in China's current customs clearance process, said Zheng Fangbin. He revealed that this June, the National Office of Port Administration will hold an experience sharing meeting in Zhoushan to promote the innovative system nationwide.