Thursday, 28 November 2013

So tell me, what is Import Customs Compliance exactly?

Thought I'd drop this one into the blog. If you're a UK importer, you have responsibilities to HMRC as the importer. 99% of UK importers will use a freight forwarder or Customs clearance agent to get their air and ocean shipments cleared through Customs so they can take delivery and either get it into production, or out to their customers - job done!

Just a word of advice. When you use a freight forwarder to carry out the Customs clearance for you, they're (99 times out of a 100) acting as a Direct Representative. So what the heck is that? It means that although they declare the goods to Customs and sign the Customs Entry (C88), you're liable as the importer for the accuracy of the entry.

That means some fundamental things such as:-

1 - Correct tariff classification (which affects the duty rate payable)
2 - Correct value declaration
3 - Correct currency code
4 - Declaration of marine insurance (dutiable)
5- Declaration of correct freight charges (dutiable)
6 - Correct/appropriate Customs regime (home use/IPR/OPR)
7 - Value declaration (is the value on suppliers invoice correct)

8 - Application of any duty concession which may be applicable

There are others too but these are the main ones.

HMRC have issued leaflets to remind customers of their responsibilities in this area (see below photo) however they're not well publicised and the wording inside may be confusing to the average UK importer (who has most likely never completed a Customs entry in their life!).

We carry out Customs Compliance work for many of our import customers so they know they're compliant, they're paying the right amount of duty, the correct tariff codes are being applied for the different products they import and they're taking advantage of any Customs duty reliefs which are available. The other big benefit is the obvious one - peace of mind, it's being managed, if we get a Customs visit, we can show we carry out a compliance process to ensure any errors are picked up and corrected.

This was how we uncovered a £ 26,000 duty overpayment for a Warrington customer earlier this year, importing catering equipment from the US. The mistake went back 7 years but we can only reclaim 3 years worth of overpaid duty (127 Customs entries).

Please let us know if you need any advice regarding compliance as well as any general freight or logistics advice it's what we do (and what we're really good at).

Kind Regards


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