The Uniform User Management and Digital Signatures Project – How eIDAS is helping improve EU’s customs interface

by Gaurav Sharma (guest) on 29. June 2018

With each passing year, the volume of international trade in goods and services keeps rising. With all of this trade, however, comes an associated cost. This not only involves some unavoidable components like shipping, but also costs incurred due to inefficiency in other systems like customs clearances and trust between the trading parties.

Each year, billions of dollars are paid as fees to banks for facilitating international trade deals via products like Letters of Credit or other structured solutions. Additionally, delays in custom clearances can cause a significant loss in the form of demurrages, missed deadlines, production delays and so on.

The scope of the UUM&DS (Uniform User Management and Digital Signatures Project) is to provide for Identity and Access management services to be used by traders for customs. It is a trans-European system which allows traders and Economic Operators (EOs) to access the unified European Information System for customs. The system would enable a single and simplified User Interface and allow EOs to seamlessly access the customs portal.

What is the need for such a system?

New Call-to-actionEach Member State of the European Union has a complex and varied customs system in place. This makes it difficult for businesses both within and outside the EU to access the European markets easily.

For the digital Single Market to become a reality, the need for such a harmonizing customs system was felt. UMM&DS has therefore been one of the longer running projects in the eID domain under the Connecting Europe Facility.

The real challenge to implement a unified system stems from the fact that each Member State has different requirements to enable a successful customs transaction. UMM&DS must take all of these into consideration and provide a solution that would be acceptable to all Member States and comply with all the legal requirements. Additionally, it should be user friendly, secure and provide the necessary functionality that various users demand.

Where does eIDAS come in?

The tools provided by eIDAS are fundamental to make the UUM&DS possible. Some of the technical aspects of this integration may be gleamed from this document which provides a preliminary idea of how the system might work in the future. UMM&DS predates eIDAS but with the adoption of the eIDAS regulation, it has evolved to make full use of the new possibilities.

eIDAS provides secure and authorized access, access for delegated users, established trust schemes, and a secure way to exchange identity information. All of these features are necessary to ensure that businesses can confidently use the UMM&DS interface for their customs interactions.


A single market cannot exist efficiently without a single customs interface. Many European Countries have a complex customs systems which complicates matters and creates artificial barriers for businesses. UMM&DS goes a long way in alleviating some of these problems and provides a unified interface for businesses. eIDAS is an integral part of this solution as it provides the basic identification, authentication, access management and trust services to businesses accessing the customs interface.

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References and Further Reading

Image: Pulse of Europe, courtesy of Jon Worth, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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