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.
However, there’s a common misunderstanding. As importers pay 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 of this 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.
Andy was 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!
"After meeting with Andy to discuss our requirements, we were impressed with his professional yet friendly approach as well as his confidence that he would be able to cut our freight costs” Louise Maoudj, Operations Director, Peak Drink Dispense
"What really surprised us were the resulting financial benefits (+£100K saving on freight costs) and in addition, there was also a significant improvement in service levels, and the shared savings model was particularly liked by senior management” Jim Hickey, Procurement Manager, Magnesium Elektron
"Not everyone has the time to scrutinise freight invoices to check the costs are correct, especially when the freight forwarders try to bamboozle you with trade jargon to disguise the hidden costs” Neil Barlow, Director, New World Air Brake
"I would have no hesitation in recommending the services of Straightforward Consultancy if you are looking for better service and rates from your carriers, and maintenance of those in the longer term” Paul Critchlow, Managing Director, Distinctive Medical
"In summary it’s clear that Andy’s extensive knowledge has added a great deal of value to our supply chain and it’s a pleasure to have him on our team” Steve Gaskell, Supply Chain Manager, Mast Group
"We engaged Straightforward Consultancy as we could see that our air freight costs had risen over time and service levels had dropped, however we didn’t have the time or expertise to carry out a review ourselves” Steve Goldstraw, Managing Director, Staffordshire Hydraulics Services"
"The project has realised significant savings for us and we continue to enjoy pro-active support to ensure that these benefits are maintained” Kevin Bradd, Supply Chain Manager, Otter Controls
"Attention to detail, full knowledge of the shipping business from the sides of both the freight forwarder and customer ensure Straightforward Consultancy offer real added-value to our company” Mark Daintith, Purchasing Manager, Middleby UK