Customs Clearance

Customs Clearance UK

At Cargo Flow Agency, we specialise in customs clearance for post Brexit, EU trading. We supply a full range of customs clearance services. These are available to importers, exporters, and hauliers alike.

All post-Brexit cargo movements will be subject to an export declaration from the country of origin and mirrored by an import declaration upon arrival.

customs clearance Newhaven port
customs clearance Newhaven Port

Customs Clearance Explained

Most frequent questions and answers

From our offices in the harbour of Newhaven, East Sussex, our systems are connected to the H.M. Customs Chief and NES portals. This enables our highly trained and skilled staff to manage inbound customs clearances and outbound freight declarations.

Our services are focused on Newhaven, but our badges cover all of the principal south coasts Ro/Ro harbours. Therefore, enabling us to serve Dover, Newhaven. Portsmouth and Southampton, along with several other harbours. In addition, we also cover the Channel tunnel.

Foreign harbour clearances, whether in Dieppe or the other French Ro/Ro harbours can also be organised seamlessly. Our software connects directly to our French network, reducing the potential delays and inaccuracies. which may occur with re-keyed data. Our French ports coverage includes Dunkerque, Calais, Dieppe, Le Havre and Ouistreham as the major Ro/Ro harbours. Also, Euro Tunnel in Coquelles.

All of this information, for each and every consignment, must be provided to the clearing agent at the point of exportation. An export entry, detailing the journey to be undertaken and the customs status of the cargo will be prepared.

Whether the delivery of the data for clearance purposes is to be done by the shipper, or the haulier, early presentation is always advised. This will ensure that the data has been processed, whilst the vehicle is heading to the harbour. Delays will inevitably occur if the parties wait until the driver arrives in the harbour. Of course, even longer delays can be expected if the documentation is not sent with the vehicle.

Based on the data included in the export entry, the entry for the inbound clearance has to be prepared and completed prior to the vehcile departing form the UK departure point. If the data is available in full and if it is routed for immediate clearance by the customs authorities, it could be that the vehicle is permitted to leave the harbour without delay.

For us to provide a fast and efficient clearance service, requires significant collaboration, involving exporting companies, importers and their hauliers. The benefit of fully electronic service is often seen in the immediate release of a vehicle upon arrival in the destination harbour. That can only happen if the data pertaining to every consignment contained within the carrying unit is accurately collated, ideally prior to the goods being loaded.

In the first instance, the shipper must produce customs invoices. These will detail the nature, number, packaging type and quantity, the gross and nett weights, the value and the terms of shipment. As with any commercial invoice, the purchaser will be identified. It may also be a requirement of the importing territory for specific declarations to be included within the body of the document, these may confirm origin, conformance, or other requirements specific to the type of cargo and country rules. Origin is an important subject, with some significant alterations in approach from 1/1/2022. Please refer to the summary of origin regulations, via the page tab Rules of Origin and Invoices.

At the heart of the correct identification of the cargo is the Customs Commodity Code. It is the role of the exporter to associate each of their products to the relevant CCC from within the tariff. This data must also be shown in the invoice for the shipment to be cleared.

The purpose of the commodity code is for the national authorities to set tariffs, taxes, import and export controls, documentary requirements or other supplementary data.

Different countries may set differing criteria for each commodity code. This may be to control the flow of specific cargo into their territory, or perhaps to avoid a negative impact on their local producers or manufacturers of particular product types.

A link to the UK Customs tariff can be found via the Resources tab. 

Associated with the cargo invoice, is the Packing list. This describes the nature of the cargo, the type and quantity of packages. There should be a cross-relationship with the invoice and will also be shown the names, addresses and contact details of the shipper and the overseas receiver.

There are options for the authorities to delay transit through the harbour, this may involve documentary checks, document and cargo examination, in the case of restricted cargoes, it may be that the release of the vehicle will depend upon the authority of departments other than customs.

There are two further elements that have to be considered, but which haven’t yet been addressed above. Those being Duty and VAT.

As a result of the Trade Deal, Duty is not payable on most EU transactions. Cargo of non-EU origin, in particular, Chinese manufactured items, even if supplied from a UK or EU location, are often liable to duty charges. With this in mind, declarations of origin are absolutely essential in the invoice for all shipments, both export, and import.

VAT on imported cargo is likely to be accounted for in the quarterly returns of all VAT registered traders. Non-registered traders are likely to have to pay VAT at the prevailing rate, during the importation process. So cash-flow may well be impacted, in particular for non registered importers.

The essential message which traders must absorb and prepare for is that things for many companies have changed considerably in 2021. Businesses that have previously traded only with EU suppliers and customers will have to alter their invoicing and documentary practices. All future dealings with EU customers and suppliers will have to be negotiated with a clear agreement over the INCOTERMS which are going to be applied.

It may, therefore, be necessary to formally negotiate who is going to have responsibility for each customs clearance charge, who pays any duty which may apply, plus any other gaps in trading terms that may currently exist. When shipping cargo under DAP terms, it is advised that the parties agree whether that is strict DAP or DAP Cleared (Incoterm DDU). Whichever version of DAP is used, must be stipulated on the invoice.

Have a Question?

Have a customs clearance or transport question?

What is Customs Clearance?

Customs clearance is the process of reporting to the governmental agencies on the international trading of cargo. The process is divided into two distinct operations, export from the country of origin and import into the territory of the receiving party.

The process of clearance, enables the collection of trade statistics, the control of certain types of cargo, payment of duty and localised taxes.

From 1st January 1993, the UK became a part of the European Single Market. During that period, the requirement for border controls, payment of duty, and the collection of local taxes have not applied in the majority of transactions between EU member states. Resulting from the decision of the UK to leave the European Union, and from 1st January 2021, the European Customs Union, all goods traded from and to the UK with the 27 EU states, will once again be the subject of border controls.

What is Customs Clearance?

The Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union has removed tariffs on all UK and EU origin cargo, with the exception of controlled goods. The rest of the World freight is still liable to duty charges and import controls, as stipulated in the Global Tariff in the UK and the EU equivalent publications.

For most goods, VAT will become accountable at the point of importation. The applicable percentage rate of tax is published in the UK tariff. 

For most UK VAT registered businesses, they can postpone the VAT. It those cases, the cargo value and the resulting amount of VAT, will be accounted for in the company’s next periodic VAT return.

2022 - A Year of Change

On 1st January 2022, the United Kingdom border became subject to customs controls.

The first year post-Brexit had seen a ‘relaxed’ approach to how freight was supervised by HMRC. All of that altered with the change of the year, with all cargoes both export and import becoming the subject of rigorous surveillance.

In order to maintain the required detail, H.M. Government introduced the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), which had been used for Irish shipments only, for all movements both into and out of the UK.

The principal is that, 

  • The haulier is responsible for the creation of a GMR for each vehicle, and for each item of cargo being carried.
  • The preparation of the GMR can be sub-contracted, but the haulier is responsible for gathering the required information.
  • Each vehicle is represented by an electronic file.
  • Each UK customs entry for cargo within that file has to be recorded within the GVMS record.
  • The vehicle file containing the entry details, is represented by a Goods Vehicle Reference (GMR) and generated as a barcode.
  • Empty vehicles still require a GMR.
  • The barcode is presented to the cross-channel operator. 
  • For export consignments, there are differing categories of harbour. Sheerness and Newhaven note arrival of the cargo when they physically appear at the port entrance. Most other ports require the cargo to be pre-arrived. Those two status categories are determined by the customs broker.
  • Import consignments become ‘arrived’ once the cross-channel operator has registered the consignments as having departed from the EU.
  • An arrived entry represents the completion of the customs process, but only if all taxes and duties payable have been satisfied. Therefore, a clearance can be arrived, but cannot be released from customs control until all fiscal measures have been completed.

Cargo Flow have a low-cost GMR preparation service. Please contact us for information.

Plant and Animal products, live animals and associated items.

The United Kingdom has been operating an interim low-key approach to the control of most items under the above categories, leaving and entering the UK. That position will change significantly on 1st July 2022.

On that date, a series of Border Control Points (BCPs) and Control Points (CPs), due to come into operation.

Most BCPs, located in harbours will be equipped to handle a range of products. Local registration will determine whether an individual port can handle all, or some of the entire range of categories. These include:

P(WP) = Wood and wood products
OO = Other objects
POA = Product of animal origin
HRFNOA = High risk food/feed of non-animal origin
P = Plants
PP = Plant products
OO = Other objects
HC-Fish = For human consumption / Fish
HC-NT = For human consumption / No temperature requirement
HC-T(CH) = For human consumption / Chilled products
HC-T(FR) = For human consumption / Frozen products
NHC-NT = Not for human consumption / No temperature requirement
NHC-T(CH) = For human consumption / Chilled products
NHC-T(FR) = Not for human consumption / Frozen products

All BCPs and CPs will be subject to DEFRA approval and supervision.

All cargoes which comply with the lists of controlled cargoes, as published and updated by DEFRA and the associated bodies, are liable for inspection at a BCP. This may include a simple documentary check, physical inspection or an identity check.

To facilitate the inspection of imported goods, the importer, or the agent acting on their behalf, must report the impending arrival to the authorities. This will be done via the IPAFFS portal. As a result of an entry into the portal, the vehicle carrying the cargo will be made the subject of a requirement to report to either a BCP or a CP. The inspection will not prevent the completion of the import customs entry, so the vehicle will be free to leave the arrival harbour, in order to report to the inspection facility. The goods cannot however proceed for offloading prior to the inspection being completed.

Certification will be required, which must be raised prior to despatch, and made available at both the United Kingdom and EU inspection points. If organic status is being claimed, this will also have to be certified by the authorities in the country of origin.

Also, on the subject of certification, some fruit and vegetables may also be subject to a Certificate of Conformity.

One piece of positive news is that processed and packaged products of plant origin, are not going to be subjected to the control process.

The impact will be both an administrative and financial burden upon the traders. There will be fees in respect of the relevant certificates, as well as BCP attendance and potentially inspection fees as well. 

It is possible that your haulage provider may charge extra for waiting at an inspection location, or for any extra time and distance needed to report to an inland CP.

As time passes, we will be able to update the information relating to the movement of Plant and Animal products, live animals and associated items, the above sections are based on the best information currently available. It should not be considered to be a comprehensive or definitive document. Please consider this to be an overview of the impending changes.