Executive summary

The Swiss government built an advanced Business Rules Management System (BRMS) with IBM to enhance e-dec, their electronic customs clearance system.

Is the declared value of an automobile imported into Switzerland plausible or is the importer attempting to cheat at customs? With a continuously updated catalog of about 700 business rules in the customs clearance solution, Swiss Custom’s e-dec system automatically checks if everything in the customs declaration is correct.

E-dec is a service-oriented e-government platform of the Swiss Federal Customs Administration. E-dec is developed by the Federal Office for Information Technology (BIT) and has been in operation since 2006, and Swiss Customs partnered with IBM to update the system in 2011.

The information systems of the companies who import or export contain a module that communicates with e-dec. Over 1500 systems are connected to e-dec, processing approximately 200,000 declarations per day. Through the importing of goods, e-dec accounts for customs duties and value added tax of about 23 billion Swiss Francs per year.


Swiss Customs needed to streamline the process for businesses importing and exporting goods, so they looked to improve their BRMS and e-dec services.

How does electronic customs clearance work? For example, a Swiss dealer wants to import automobiles from Germany into Switzerland. The entire business process, from purchase at the manufacturer to sale to the customer, is transacted in the dealer’s information system. At a point in this process an electronic customs declaration is prepared and sent to the e-dec system.

Such a declaration is a very comprehensive electronic document, which is composed of up to 200 data elements per contained good. The value and weight of the good must be declared, in the case of automobiles, the vehicle identification number. E-dec automatically processes this message and sends back the necessary documents for the import within a few seconds.


The Swiss Federal Office for Information Technology (BIT) redeployed their BRMS on IBM WebSphere JRules BRMS and enhanced their e-dec process.

In 2011, BIT updated their BRMS to IBM WebSphere JRules BRMS. Now, all business rules are stored in a central repository. Various rule editors allow developers and customs professionals to jointly create new rules or adapt existing ones. These rules are then tested and released for deployment to the production environment. Thus, in a short period of time changes can be quality assured and put online.

Swiss Custom’s clients must be familiar with the plausibility rules in order to make correct declarations. To assist clients, the BRMS generates detailed rule reports that are made available to them online.

The e-dec platform consists of various processes (e.g. import, export, postal traffic), which are composed of different services. One of these services is plausibility analysis. This plausibility analysis service checks—in a fraction of a second—the technical correctness of the transmitted data on the basis of a variety of business rules. In the case of an automobile import, the service checks, among other things, whether the vehicle identification number has been specified for each vehicle and whether the declared import value lies within a specified realistic range.

Currently there are around 700 business rules. These rules change at regular intervals on the basis of statutory regulations and the requirements of various federal agencies. Thus, another important feature of the e-dec and BRMS is the flexible adaptation of the rules independently from regular software release cycles.

How it works

See how Swiss Custom’s new e-dec system conducts plausibility analysis for an automobile customs declaration.

The automobile customs declaration undergoes a process in e-dec composed of several services. One of these is the plausibility analysis service, which checks whether the information from the customs client is correct, e.g. is the value of the automobile plausible?


The business rules for checking the customs declaration are recorded by the customs professional in the rule editor and stored in the rule repository. In the plausibility analysis service, the rule engine compares the information of the customs client with the business rules stored in the repository within fractions of a second. For example, if the specified value of the automobile is too low, the plausibility analysis generates an error message.


The enhanced BRMS and e-dec is helping Swiss Customs organize customs duties and save around 23 billion Swiss Francs per year in value added tax.

Plausibility analysis services and the rules contained therein are reused by several customs clearance processes, which increase the efficiency of the administration of the business rules. The business rules systems provide a good overview of the rules in all stages of development. This contributes to quality assurance for Swiss Customs and their clients.

The web-based user interface enables customs professionals to administer the rules to guarantee flexibility and speed in the adaptation of the rules. The rule execution within e-dec also provides high performance and is easily scalable.

The architectural approach for administration and execution of business rules and the specific product selected have proven themselves in practice. The use of a BRMS in other systems of the Federal administration with business rules can bring various advantages and is highly recommended by the Swiss Customs e-dec team.

Solution components


  • IBM WebSphere JRules Business Rule Management System (BRMS)

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