Under the strapline “UK’s new start – let’s get going”, the government has announced new plans in a 206 page document, which come with the admission “customs declarations are complicated”. British businesses who trade with Europe, such as ecommerce website designs, will soon need to fill in an extra 215 million customs declarations at a cost of £7 billion a year.
It is estimated that businesses will need to hire 50,000 new private sector customs agents to deal with the formalities at the UK and EU border – regardless of whether a trade deal is reached and even if all tariffs and quotas are removed.
If your online shop imports and/or exports from/to the EU, you will need to start learning about customs or hire someone in house. Alternatively, you may prefer to simply deal with a customs agent, which may save you time and energy in the long run.
What does a customs agent do?
A customs agent ensures that the import and export of goods is smooth and seamless. Customs rules can be complex and change regularly. It is the job of a customs agent to keep abreast of all rules and regulations and ensure that your ecommerce business has the right paperwork and licenses. If you fail to have the right documentation you could be hit with exorbitant fines and penalties.
Customs agents will:
- Ensure that the right duty and taxes are being paid to reduce delays.
- Liaise with governmental departments and customs authorities on your behalf.
- Check the classification and valuation of your goods.
- Prepare documentation.
- Arrange the correct payment of import duties.
- Advise you on the right licenses for import.
Is the UK ready for this?
Many businesses are worried that the necessary infrastructure is not in place and that the IT, customs experts and lorry parks will not be up and running in time for January 2021. There has also been a lack of direction on the new customs arrangements that will operate between Northern Ireland and the mainland.
Any there any benefits to this?
The import and export declarations will need to be mirrored by businesses in the EU – which means an estimated 430 million forms will need to be completed in total. A substantial cost to what is currently an open border. Considering the current state of our economy and the stress that many businesses are currently experiencing, some industry figures have remarked that this is the last thing businesses need.
However, although Brexit has substantially increased costs and red tape, cabinet office minister Michael Gove declared that we would be able to strike our own trade deals with countries around the world and control our own immigration policy.
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