What is customs review?

Even with the recent efforts of the Brazilian Federal Government, through the Federal Revenue Service, to simplify the procedure of entry of goods into Brazilian territory, it is notable that import operations involve a thick layer of bureaucratic requirements that make Brazilian importers continually concerned whether they are ensuring the full compliance of operations or not.

Even in companies whose operations are regular, the act of importing in Brazil creates expectations (in some cases also apprehension) that are only met after the official confirmation of customs clearance of the imported cargo. It’s the so-called (and desired) Green Channel.

However, be aware that even cases that went through the entire customs clearance process and had their respective status approved for nationalization can be revisited by the Customs when looking for possible irregularities in the information provided in each Import Declaration.

Customs Revision is the name given for such possible subsequent inspection and we will learn more about it in today’s article.



To understand the customs review in depth, it is important to remember how each of the customs clearance channels your importation may be classified in work.

Categorized by the colors green, yellow, red, and gray, the parameterization channels determine the type of conference that will be necessary so that the cargo in question can actually be released.

In the green channel, automatic import clearance takes place, and the entire checking process is based on digital control and inspection parameters.

In the yellow channel, based on different parameters established by the Customs Authority, a documental verification of the imported goods is necessary.

In the red channel, the type of inspection required becomes a little more rigid. In these cases, the cargo is submitted to a federal inspector who will carry out the document and physical verification of the imported goods.

In the gray channel, the customs authority checks for signs of irregularities in the declared good and requires documentary and physical inspection, in addition to carrying out special procedures to verify whether the value informed in the documentation is appropriate to the operation.

As we could see, among all these channel modalities, green is the one that, in theory, shows the lowest risk for importers.

In theory, because in fact all other channels go through some type of conference that demands time, resources, and specialized personnel, but with regards to the green channel, from the release on, the probability of a new conference is very low, but not zero. There are even several judicial discussions for cases in which a new inspection was requested, and the main allegation is based on some failure in the first procedure carried out, so it is important to make it clear that whatever the parameterization channel is, every Import Declaration can be submitted for review customs.



In general terms, the customs review is the administrative process within the competence of the Customs Authority, aiming to investigate fraud and inconsistencies in the declared information and in the taxes paid upon the nationalization of the imported good.

From the day the Import Declaration is cleared, Customs are entitled to request a customs review within 5 years thereon.

The legal text that supports the application of the customs review is found in Decree-Law nº 37/661, regulated by Decree nº 6.759/09 (Customs Regulation), in its article 638.

In practical terms, when the criteria established by law to configure the application of the customs review by the Federal Revenue are identified, Customs issues a letter demanding the importer about possible non-conformities that should be further analyzed.

It is the importer’s obligation at this time to collaborate with the entire review process, providing all the documentation that instructed the original process and the requested justifications.

The contested company can opt, at its discretion, to legally argue the decision, using the legal explanations applicable before the competent court.

The information most revisited in a customs review process is the importer’s identification data, description of goods, classification in Mercosur Common Nomeclature (MCN), customs valuation, tax classification, taxes collected, applicable classification in special regimes and application of tax benefits.



There is no way to guarantee that a company will adopt all the measures that totally eliminate the possibility of a customs review, but there are several actions that make it so that, even if the review takes place, it will result in the least possible problems arising from costs with tax adjustments and possible fines.

A good practice is to keep all files of all foreign trade processes carried out by the company digitally organized, for a period of at least five years. The replacement of paper documents by digital files facilitates and simplifies control and access to the declared information.

Another good action is to carry out periodic internal audits in order to revisit the same information that may be subject to inspection in the customs review process.

These audits may be included in a more comprehensive risk monitoring plan for the company, because customs non-compliance is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) risks for companies operating in foreign trade.

In addition to all the measures mentioned above, certifications that have the premise of information compliance, information quality and risk management are an efficient way to prepare and prevent for customs review, should it occur.

Among the main certifications, the AEO Certification (Authorized Economic Operator) stands out, since it is carefully granted by the Federal Revenue and companies certified as AEO are elevated to the status of the Customs Authority partners, which drastically minimizes the possibility with revisions and deeper conferences on company procedures.

It is important to emphasize that, in order to obtain the AEO Certification, the importer must adapt its internal procedures, which must undergo a series of conferences by Customs, which is why, when approved, the degree of trust increases.



We have focused here on the customs review applied to the import process however, the rule is also valid for exporters.

As these are operations with a lower tax burden involved, and whose clearance is simpler compared to the import process, exports are subject to a lower incidence of this type of customs conference, but all the tips contained here must be taken into account in both international operations.


Now that you know more about customs review developments, can you see the importance of preparing and anticipating this type of administrative analysis?


Count on our team of experts to achieve compliance in your operations and avoid problems with unwanted inspections.