Help with customs declaration

HM Revenue and Customs allow you to use the services of the freight forwarder, customs agents and fast parcel operators to help with your customs declaration. Before anything else, first, you must get an EORI number that starts with GB if you in the business of imports and exports into and out of the UK.

It is very easy to apply for your EORI if you do not have one yet. You must apply for your EORI number with HMRC. You can do this online. For your application, you would require your company’s UTR number, VAT number (if you have one). Furthermore, HMRC would also require your company incorporation date and SIC code. You can get this information from your last confirmation statement submitted to Companies House.

Beginning on 01 January 2021, imports and exports between the UK and the EU must use EORI number starts with GB. This is because of the UK no longer part of the single market, the eurozone.

Freight forwarders

Freight forwarders move goods around the world for importers. Generally, A freight forwarder will arrange clearing your goods through customs. They’ll have the right software to communicate with HMRC’s systems.

You can find out how to use a freight forwarder on the British International Freight Association and Institute of Export websites.

Customs agent or broker

Customs agents and brokers make sure your goods clear through customs. You can hire a customs agent or broker to act as a direct representative or indirect representative.

Use your own name but handle by an agent directly

You can hire a person or business to act in your name to handle your customs declaration. For this, you will be responsible for:

  • keeping records
  • the accuracy of any information provided on your customs declarations
  • any Customs Duty or VAT due

The advantage of having someone to represent you directly is that If you give clear instructions and they make a mistake, they may become jointly and severally liable.

However, you cannot ask someone to act directly if they are submitting your declarations using:

  • simplified customs procedures
  • entry in the declarant’s records

When acting directly, even if they have authorisation, they can only submit those types of declarations if you have authorisation.

A customs agent used their name to act for you

There are customs agents who use their own name to handle the customs declaration. This means the agent and yourself are equally responsible for making sure the information is accurate. Consequently, you both are jointly and severally liable for any duty or VAT.

You can get an indirect agent with the authorisation to make declarations using:

  • simplified customs procedures
  • entry in the declarant’s records

However, you cannot ask an agent to act indirectly if you’re declaring goods for:

  • inward processing
  • outward processing
  • temporary admission
  • end-use relief
  • private customs warehousing

Fast parcel operators

Fast parcel operators transport documents, parcels and freight across the world in a specific time frame. They can deal with customs for you, as part of their delivery.

They cannot act on your behalf without written instructions from you. The instruction must show whether they’re acting for you directly or indirectly. HMRC will only ask for evidence of the authorisation if we need it.

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