Historical Journey of Costa Rica Single Window | VUCE

Historical Journey of Costa Rica Single Window

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At the beginning of the period, the Center for the Promotion of Exports and Investment (CENPRO) was the entity in charge of promoting exports in the country. For this, the interested party had to apply to the Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR) for a license to export, present procedures before different entities, all located in different offices in the central plateau of the country and finally present the Export Declaration at the customs office of exit of the merchandise, generating economic and time expenses.

With the aim of facilitating this process, an initiative arises so that CENPRO and the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (TEC) conduct a study on the paperwork associated with foreign trade at the time, from which the creation of a Single Export Window is derived, which facilitates export procedures.

For this, the Single Export Window project was presented first to the Presidency of the Republic and then to the PLE-480 Program in search of financing, and it is the latter that authorizes a total of 6.8 million colons.

This allowed the start of operations of the first Single Window of Costa Rica (Single Window for Exports) in which the Export License issued by the BCCR, the permits before the institutions involved, the Certificates of Origin for the Generalized Systems of Preferences and for the Initiative for the Caribbean Basin. In subsequent years, the unification of the aforementioned processes was achieved through the Single Export Form and the Provisional Shipping Permit was created.

In 1989, an office of the Export Single Window was opened at the Juan Santamaría Airport and later the Limón Office was opened.



Among the milestones that were achieved at this time is the opening of the offices of the Single Export Window in Caldera, Paso Canoas and Peñas Blancas, these located at strategic points in the country with the aim of decentralizing the service. In the same way, improvements were made to the Single Export Form to make the procedures easier, save costs and time. However, even when the offices represented the Single Window, this scheme had not been established by law.

For this period, although the procedures were already centralized, they continued to be done 100% manually and through the use of paper.



During this period, the legislation that regulates the sector was not updated, which is why the need to reformulate the model with which it had been working was raised. It is there that in 1996 Law 7638 came into force, creating the Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX) and the Promoter of Foreign Trade (PROCOMER). In article 8, subsection c of this law, it establishes the legal framework, and transforms the Single Window for Exports into the Single Window for Foreign Trade (VUCE) contemplating not only export processes, but also import ones.

Subsequently, transformations were carried out in the procedures of the Single Window, among them: the Customs Export Declaration Form (DAE) was created, the format of the Provisional Shipping Permit was modified, and the forms of all import permits were unified export in a single format called FAD (by its spanish name Formato de Autorización de Desalmacenaje). In the same way, the first version of the System for the preparation of Customs Export Declarations (DAE) and FAD is opened digitally, this was achieved through a system that had to be installed in the users’ computer.



During this stage, the SIVUCE 1 platform was implemented. This platform included the following online functionalities: Exporter Registration procedure, Customs Export Declarations (DAE) and Online Technical Notes for the FADs procedure.

Then, in 2005, the General Directorate of Customs (DGA) began the implementation of the TICA System for the Import Regime, which introduced the electronic transmission of the Customs Declaration and the permits issued by the institutions. This change required adjustments to the SIVUCE 1 platform so that the authorized permits and the information from the Exporter’s Registry were electronically transmitted to the TICA System. One of the substantial changes that was applied in customs procedures during this time was the electronic transmission of data instead of the presentation of physical documentation as was previously done.



During this period, the TICA Systema is now implemented for the Export Regime, this implied another challenge for the Single Window of Costa Rica since the use of the DAE was eliminated and in its place a new system called SIVUCE TICA had to be created that would allow users to prepare the new format of the Single Customs Declaration (DUA by its acronyms in Spanish) and transmit it electronically to the TICA System.

With the new technologies, the Costa Rica Single Window concludes that the existing version was limited since it did not allow a series of services such as electronic payments, digital signature, among others. Given this, a new project is proposed to develop a new Foreign Trade Single Window system called VUCE 2.0, which would include all foreign trade procedures in a single platform and would allow the incorporation of services such as electronic payment, digital signature, automatic approvals, national interoperability, and international, among others.



In order to facilitate export procedures, the Ministry of Foreign Trade transferred the origin certification procedures to the Foreign Trade Agency of Costa Rica through Executive Decree No. 36651-COMEX. The Origin Unit, attached to the Costa Rica´s Single Window for Foreign Trade, is in charge of verifying and certifying the origin of the goods, within the framework of foreign trade instruments that establish the figure of certification of origin by a competent authority.

During this period, the management is carried out to obtain financing for the development of the VUCE 2.0 System, which was carried out through the Inter-American Development Bank. This allows the VUCE 2.0 System software development process to begin, which was launched for the use of foreign trade operators in 2014, beginning with the Single Exporters Registry module, the module for the management of Customs Export and Transit Declarations, both as a pilot plan that would allow testing of the platform.

After the implementation of the first pilot plan, adjustments are derived and once resolved, the Technical Notes Module is implemented, with an initial group of Export Permits focused on the export of agricultural products such as pineapples and coffee (NT 265 and 80).



In the years after 2014, the VUCE continued working on the progressive implementation of the processes in the VUCE (Version 2.0) platform, such as the other technical notes (LPCO), exporter registry with other entities part of the foreign trade such as the Animal Quarantine Directorate of the National Animal Health Service (SENASA), the National Association of the Textile Industry (ANEIT), among others.

Among other projects carried out by the VUCE during this period, in 2019 the first steps were taken to interoperate phytosanitary export certificates through the ePhyto initiative of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). In June 2020, the initiative began allowing the exchange of ePhyto with Argentina, Chile, and the United States. In 2022, new and important destinations such as Panama, Guatemala, and the European Union were included. This project was developed following the CEFACT data model and currently benefits more than 100,000 exporters through the electronic transmission of this requisite certificate for exports of different products such as fresh fruit.

By the end of this period, the VUCE begins a new stage of long-term strategic definition and considering the development of new functionalities in order to stick to the recommendations of international organizations such as the World Customs Organization.

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