[Update September 23, 2020]
Digital documents and comments
ATLAS and AES IT procedures
[Update June 03, 2020]
The customs informs about new changes in the ATLAS and AES procedure. Until July 12, 2020 all conversions to ATLAS-Releas 9.0 must be done.This also includes the supporting message groups and software products. In addition, there is still no official commitment for the ZELOS application including tests. As a result, certification is not planned in AES Release 2.4 and will only be taken into account in the next release.
[Update December 11, 2019]
Especially in times when climate protection and CO² debates are flooding the front pages of newspapers and magazines, customs and their IT service providers are also revising and modernizing their IT systems. “With the ‘Digital Administration 2020’ program, the German government is creating the framework for the administration of the future. This uses the potential of digitization and is effective, transparent, efficient, barrier-free, and citizen- and business-friendly. “1 Zelos will be the new IT application of German Customs for the electronic transmission and exchange of documents, inquiries, and statements. These documents are requested, transmitted and exchanged with Zelos in the application and linked to the transactions by a unique assignment. In AES Export, currently, if documents are missing, declarants must provide them to the authorities by mail, email, or even in person. Up to now, when a subsequent delivery is required is indicated and requested by a rejection of a declaration. In the IT application Zelos, this indication is built into the overview, whereupon documents can be sent in the application in various formats (.PNG, .JPG). According to the latest reports of the World Bank on the LGI – Logistic Performance Index – Germany ranks first in the efficiency of customs clearance processes for the first time since 2018. To continue to maintain this podium position, these processes are continuously developed and improved. Through the Zelos application, the required documents and records are sent and processed without detours to the responsible officers. This results in improved processing efficiency on the part of customs, thus ensuring that we remain in first place. The aim is to be prepared for an ever-increasing number of processing operations, contrary to current economic forecasts. For several years now, Germany has had an unchanged consumption of approximately 240 kg of paper per capita. The public administration alone has a consumption of approx. 80,000 tons, whereby one ton of paper requires the same amount of energy in production as is needed to produce one ton of steel. An immense amount of energy is therefore required for documents that could also be transmitted and archived digitally. According to projections, Zelos could save around 5 million paper printouts a year. According to the latest information, the use of “Zelos” will not become mandatory until 2022. 
https://lpi.worldbank.org/international/aggregated-ranking https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/papier-druckerzeugnisse#textpart-1 https://www.zoll.de/DE/Fachthemen/Zoelle/ATLAS/ATLAS-Publikationen/Teilnehmerinformationen/teilnehmerinformationen_node.html
[Article created on April 11, 2019]
Design processes without media discontinuity
With its “Digital Administration 2020” program, the German government is creating a framework for effectively exploiting the potential of digitization. In the future, this will create transparency, efficiency, accessibility and friendliness for citizens and companies in the administration. The goal is the exchange of documents, inquiries and statements in the ATLAS procedure between the customs administration and the company participating in the ATLAS procedure without media discontinuity. All information on ATLAS-Zelos can be found on the customs website.
Zelos – when available?
In mid-March 2019, Customs informed that the new data group comprising the Zelos messages will be available from AES Release 2.4.4 (live start September 2019). We then asked for the exact schedule and technical specifications. According to the information provided by Customs, it is not possible to say exactly when certification of these new message groups will be possible. The plan is to make Zelos available with a time delay after the start of live operations. It is therefore entirely possible that certification will not be available until 2020. The implementation of Zelos messages at the customers who want to use Zelos could then take place in the course of 2020. Only with the change to AES Release 3.0 would current plans include mandatory support for these messages. Zelos will be available on the customs side from September 2019, but can only be used after certification, which is possible in 2020. It will probably not become mandatory until the beginning of 2021 with AES 3.0. As your customs software manufacturer, we will make the best possible use of this time to prepare for Zelos and to enable a smooth transition for you.