Transport market 24.08.2023

Customs Clearance Made Simple

Customs Clearance

The decision to leave the European Single Market and the Customs Union has fundamentally changed UK border controls and customs clearance. This directly impacts importers and exporters, as well as transporters, moving goods between the UK and the EU. Here is a short but comprehensive guide to help you navigate the new customs clearance processes in a post-Brexit Great Britain.

Everything you need to know about customs clearance UK

Changes in legislation for customs clearance, due to Brexit, has impacted importers and exporters moving goods by road between the UK and the EU. The UK is no longer part of the EU and so it needs additional documentation as the UK no longer has to abide by EU regulations. The border issue with Northern Ireland meant a unique solution was created to ensure goods could still be imported and exported smoothly between the UK and the EU. 

We look at the new customs clearance legislation, what it means for you, and how you can save time on the extra paperwork.

What is customs clearance?

Customs clearance is a process all road freight goods entering or leaving the EU must follow. The customs clearance process ensures the goods have the correct documentation, duties applied, and that the goods conform with the law.

When is customs clearance needed in the UK?

You need customs clearance when you are moving goods in or out of the UK by road freight.

Although UK companies no longer hold an EU license, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement allows UK lorries to travel in and out of the EU and the same for EU hauliers travelling to and from the UK.

Where is customs clearance needed?

The National Clearance Hub handles the processing of goods in, out, and through the UK. The service is located in Salford, England, and is available from 9am to 5pm.

How long does customs clearance take?

The UK government states it can take up to 2 hours, however, road freight imports and exports are usually processed within minutes. If there is an issue with your goods, it could take up to 24 hours or worse, days or weeks. This is the length of time your items may stay in customs clearance if there is an issue.

How much does customs clearance cost in the UK?

You will need to pay Duty and VAT and each good will have its own customs clearance fee calculated during clearance. The customs charge will depend on the type and value of your goods. VAT is anywhere from 20%, the standard UK rate, or it could be less than this depending on your goods.

The zero tariff and zero quota provisions in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) apply to all goods that comply with the rules of origin, this means that extra tariffs may apply to goods that do not originate in the EU or UK but are traded between the two countries.

How do you pay customs charges?

You can pay customs clearance charges online in several ways. It also depends on what service you are using, either the Customs Declaration Service or CHIEF.

  • For the customs declaration service you can pay immediately.
  • If you use CHIEF, you can use a flexible accounting system.
  • You can apply for a duty deferment account if you do not have one already.
  • A duty deferment account means you can delay paying charges for 30 days, you don’t have to pay immediately, and your goods should be cleared quicker.
  • You can also use a cash account
  • You can use a general guarantee account.
  • You can authorise someone to make customs charges for you.

What is the difference between customs clearance documents for air, sea, and road freight?

For air freight, you will need an Airway Bill that contains information on what is being sent, who is sending it, who is receiving it, and how. For sea freight, a Bill of Lading (BoL or B/L) is required which is issued by a shipping line or their agent for receipt of the cargo. For air and sea freight you will also need a commercial invoice, a packing list, an insurance certificate, and a forwarder invoice. For road freight, you do not need these documents. 

What customs clearance documents are required for UK road freight?

There is additional paperwork for UK road freight companies to import and export from the EU because of Brexit. Changes to licensing requirements mean you must have an EU licence to operate commercial freight transport operations within the EU. There are new regulations for non-EU states to apply to the shipment of goods to the UK and export of goods form the UK to EU countries. Since the 1 January 2021, companies moving goods between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and the EU will require an EU Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number to obtain customs clearance.

Moving goods by road freight from the EU to GB must be covered by an Exit Summary Declaration (EXS) submitted ahead of your exports.

Companies also need to apply for the EU Registered Exporter System (REX) to export goods from the EU.

The information you need for customs clearance in the EU is:

  • Information on the exporter and the importer (name and address)
  • Date of issue
  • Invoice number
  • Description of the goods (name, quality, etc.)
  • Unit of measure
  • Quantity of goods
  • Unit value
  • Total item value
  • Total invoice value and currency of payment. The equivalent amount must be indicated in a currency freely convertible to Euro or another legal tender in the importing Member State
  • The terms of payment (method and date of payment, discounts, etc.)
  • The terms of delivery according to the appropriate Incoterm
  • Means of transport.

How does the customs clearance process work?

You will need an E0RI number issued by a member state of the EU. Numbers from the UK are no longer recognised in the EU. Goods entering the EU from GB must be covered by Entry Summary Declaration (ENS).

  • You will then need to arrange for goods to be inspected
  •  Then submit and manage your import declaration
  • You need to make payments of VAT and Duty
  • You need to have your goods released once they are cleared by customs.

Who is responsible for customs clearance?

Carriers have the legal responsibility to make sure the UK customs authority is provided with pre-departure safety and security information. EXS needs to be submitted by carriers and freight forwarders in advance of departure. Along with safety and security (S&S) information for imported goods unless this has been submitted with the export customs declaration.

Can I do customs clearance myself?

Customs clearance is a complicated process which is why most road freight companies hire a customs clearance agent.

Why should I use a customs agent?

Using a customs clearance broker or customs clearance agency means someone will take charge of the customs clearance process for you for a seamless transition. 

This will save you the time and hassle of doing it yourself and possibly prevent delays from paperwork issues that could keep your goods held up and cause you added expense.

Are customs clearance charges vatable?

Yes. VAT is charged on all goods sent from outside the UK to Great Britain, outside the UK and the EU to Northern Ireland.

How to deal with customs clearance?

A freight company can help you manage these new responsibilities. It can help you streamline your logistics process, reduce paperwork, and get your goods to your customers faster.

TIMOCOM work with experts at moving goods through borders between the UK and EU. We connect specialists with trade and industry customers to create a seamless process for everyone.

You can track your orders with all your data displayed in one place to quickly and easily get an overview.

It reduces the need for constant communication between business partners when you can monitor the progress of your orders.

Contact us about customs clearance today or keep up to date with the latest news in logistics, sign up for our newsletter.

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