Customs Compliance

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! 

If this sounds like you, please contact us, we’re happy to explain how we can help and whether you decide to use us or not, you’re guaranteed to learn something!

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