Non-intrusive inspection technology (NII)

Definition/Scope

Non-intrusive inspection technology (NII technology) refers to technical equipment and machines such as X-ray or gamma-ray imaging type equipment that allow the inspection of cargo without the need to open the means of transport and unload the cargo.

Problem statement

With growing trade volumes and stagnant, if not declining, staff levels at a border, the decision to physically inspect a shipment (containerized or otherwise) can be very time consuming and can affect the overall throughput of a Customs office. Decisions are often based on risk assessment and not in all cases successful.

Implementation guidance

Non-intrusive inspection technology such as X-ray or gamma-ray imaging type equipment can give a quick insight into the cargo load of a container or means of transport without the need to open and unload it, thus either confirming or resolving the risk assessment. In combination with a coordinated intervention approach, this can help to significantly reduce the number of unnecessary physical inspections and to reduce the time required for these. Standard 3 of Pillar I of the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards recognizes the usefulness of NII technology for trade facilitation and recommends to Customs administrations that non-intrusive inspection equipment should be available and used for conducting inspections, where available and in accordance with risk assessment.

Major NII installations are fixed in buildings, have a very high penetration rate and allow the means of transport to drive through, thus accelerating the process and reducing the overall inspection time. To ensure proper installation and application of such NII technology, the WCO has developed NII guidelines that will help Customs administrations to optimize the use of this technology for the benefit of both control and facilitation.

Additional information (references, examples, etc.)

The ICC Customs Guideline # 17 provide relevant business perspectives on the benefits of using NII technology.