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Taxation and Customs Union

Action 3 - Networking on quality

CLEN Action 3 aims to create a common quality approach applying to all European customs laboratories.

Activities carried out under Action 3



Project Group on Compliance assessment, use of precision data and statistics

Enrichment and revision of the guidelines on “measurement uncertainty and decision rules in compliance assessment”

Project Group on Sampling

Development and maintenance of Samancta, the Sampling Manual for Customs and Tax Authorities

CLEN Triennial survey

One of the tools used to enhance mutual knowledge of EU customs laboratories, by providing a detailed administrative and scientific portrait of the laboratories. The last survey was conducted in 2022 to collect laboratories’ 2021 data.

Project Group on Compliance assessment

Although quality requirements are the same for all Member States’ customs laboratories, their implementation may vary because of specific quality system. The aim is therefore to work towards the development of guidelines, with the use of statistics for processing precision data and other performance characteristics obtained in proficiency tests, to help interpreting analytical results for all customs laboratories. This ensures uniform interpretation of new standards and mutual acceptability of test data without the need for further re-testing of products.

The increasing number of methods of analysis accredited according to ISO 17025 (i.e., an international standard guaranteeing laboratories’ competence of testing) clearly shows the constant effort made by customs laboratories to improve their skills and ensure quality of testing.

Project Group on Sampling

  • A guide to the sampling of goods for customs and tax inspection

Samancta is a sampling manual in the shape of an Internet application, providing a consistent set of sampling instructions for officers in all Member States and beyond. It is available in 23 European languages and freely accessible online.

Access to the sampling manual Samancta here.

The aim of Samancta is:

  • to improve the quality of samples received for analysis at laboratories,
  • to harmonise procedures across Member States, and
  • to provide constructive guidance to officers on the sampling methods to be used for each type of product.

Samancta is organised by chapters and sampling procedure cards:

General Chapters

Sampling procedure cards

  • Terms and Definitions
  • Legal basis
  • Health and safety
  • Standards (relevant ISO & EN Standards)
  • General principles
  • Sampling tools
  • Sampling containers
  • Training guide
  • Website for EU Customs Laboratories
  • About the site
  • Definition (description of goods covered)
  • Recommended minimum quantity for each final sample
  • Applicable standards (ISO and EU Norms) and relevant legislation
  • Suggested sampling tool depending on the method used
  • Containers to be used for the sampling
  • Safety precautions and risk assessment
  • Sampling plan
  • Handling of samples
  • HS codes covered by the sampling procedure card

Samancta is also used for training purposes:

Samancta trainings

Presentation of Samancta to the Customs Authorities and practical training on sampling of various goods:

  • 31 August – 3 September 2021, Banja Luka (BA), around 30 participants
  • 2-4 October 2018, Tirana (AL), 23 participants
  • 27-30 September 2016, Budapest (HU), 26 participants

Samancta workshop

Presentation of Samancta to the Customs Authorities:

  • 14-15 November 2013, Prague (CZ), 67 participants

An eLearning course providing guidance on how to use Samancta has been developed by the European Commission, with support of a project team of national experts under the Customs 2020 Programme. This course is aimed for Member States’ customs and tax authorities and explains in detail how to navigate through Samancta and its sampling procedures. It is currently available in 13 languages.

More information and access to the course here.