Do you import from outside the European Union? If so, you’ll probably use a freight forwarder to transport your air freight and ocean freight consignments from your suppliers, and also to Customs clear the goods.
But there’s a common misunderstanding. As importers use a freight forwarder to take care of the whole process, which includes Customs clearance, they assume that the freight forwarder is also responsible for the accuracy of the declaration on the Customs entry or C88.
In 95% of cases however, the Customs entry is completed by the freight forwarder on your behalf as what's known as a “Direct Representative”, which means although they signed the entry, you're legally liable for the accuracy of that declaration, any commodity codes used, and the amount of duty and VAT paid.
If errors are made, HMRC will hold you, the importer, liable, often levying fines and demanding underpaid duty going back 7 years plus interest which can be very costly. As most importers aren’t aware and also lack in-house Customs expertise, they fail to check their import entries for accuracy or to provide correct commodity codes from the Customs Tariff to their freight forwarder.
It's quite ironic as many customers actually overpay duty because the wrong classifications/duty rates have been used or they fail to take advantage of duty reliefs which are available from certain countries.
As an example, in 2013, we reclaimed £26,000 of overpaid duty for an existing customer who had been overpaying duty for several years! Another client was paying 4.5% on all products when 50% were liable at 2.2% - which saved them £ 15,000 per annum.
Our Managing Director, Andy Cliff was previously a Customs Broker for 10 years and is able to guide customers through this confusing area, translating Customs jargon into their own language and helping them with classification and duty reliefs.
Here at Straightforward Consultancy, we carry out import Customs compliance checks for the majority of our import customers, who now have the peace of mind that they’re compliant, they’re paying the right amount of duty - and they don’t live in fear of a Customs inspection!
"Even after Andy’s fee we have saved a huge amount of time and saved over £10,000 – a complete no brainer really."
"It is good to know that we have your experience to smooth the path for us."
"We did not know we had a problem with our import shipping before Andy Cliff came to visit."
"If you are looking to be more forward thinking in your freight imports, save money, or just take the headache out of this part of your business, call Andy. You will not be disappointed."
"The results have been very impressive with a more streamlined supply chain, geared to our needs and a better service, both in terms of transit time reliability and communication."
"As well as achieving annual savings of around 50% on our freight costs, we also saw marked improvements in the service levels."
"Andy’s diligence and hard work resulted in Customs repaying £30,000 of import duty to Middleby UK."
"During the first 12 months of operation we have made net saving of circa 30% compared to the previous year."