Packages From Abroad Face Delays as Israel Introduces New Customs System

A new paperless customs-clearing system is to become operational on Sunday, but shippers and delivery firms have warned of delays over the transition period

Illustration: An Inc. package being processed for delivery.

If you are expecting a package from abroad and it doesnt arrive this week, it may be delayed due to the Israel Tax Authoritys installation of a new paperless internet-based customs-clearing system, dubbed Global Gate. The Global Gate system will provide shipping and delivery firms, importers, customs agents and the ports with a unified database.

Among the operations that the new system will handle is customs processing of shipments of products ordered by individual consumers from abroad. The system will become operational on Sunday, but to gear up for the launch, the Tax Authority will need to halt the processing of packages from Wednesday evening of this week until next week. Shipping and delivery firms have prepared in advance for what amounts to at most a two-day halt to customs processing (since Friday and Saturday are weekend days when the customs service doesnt work in any event), but they have warned that delays are possible, and it could even result in additional charges to the consumer.

Ayala Wexler, the VP for operations at O.P.S.I. (International Handling) Ltd., which represents UPS in Israel, said between Wednesday and Sunday, incoming shipments will not be cleared through customs whether they have been sent by air, land or sea.