Border Control Posts – What You Need to Know

A Border Control Post is a dedicated area within a port area where Government agencies can inspect goods prior to import / export. This inspection can take the form of a physical check, or a documentation check. Government agencies may also allow the import / export process to continue without their involvement.
With various uncertainties and changes in prospect, and as we all adapt to a new movement of goods process, it would be sensible to expect the frequency of these physical and /or documentation checks to increase, along with a more structured inspection programme.
If this is something you have limited experience of, it’s only natural to feel some trepidation. However, an understanding of the process, and your role in it, whether you are a business or port authority, goes some way towards alleviating this.

What does the inspection process look like?

Clear communication and co-operation between port authorities and businesses is vital in addressing the practical measures that will ensure these inspections take place in a timely and efficient manner.
Any physical inspections may delay the import / export of goods, so it’s important to factor in considerations such as whether these are perishable.
There are several logistical storage and handling issues to consider. Does the port or harbour have a lay-down area to act as a Border Control Post? Is this clear, accessible and available to use at short-notice?
Does the port have an adequate facility with the associated equipment in place?


You should make sure that all of your shipping documentation is in order, including, for example, cargo summaries, invoices and manifests.


Contingency planning

There are a number of reasons why Government agencies might not give permission for the import / export to proceed ranging from straightforward documentation irregularities or errors, to the import / export of unauthorised goods. Potential actions by Government agencies can include the detention of goods, monetary penalties, payment of the Duty and VAT, as well as criminal proceedings.

The team at Bethan Customs Consultancy have extensive experience spanning HMRC, Border Force and supply chain and logistics. We can support businesses at every stage of the process from guiding through standard inspections and follow-up visits, to liaising with HMRC in ensuring compliance and minimising penalties.

As ever, we are here to help. If you’d like to discuss these changes, and how they may affect your business, please get in touch.
Photos by: Grant Anderson – / @grantandersondotme

Deferred Customs Entries

Photos by: Grant Anderson – / @grantandersondotme

As of 1st January 2021, HMRC are allowing businesses to defer entry of their Customs declarations on goods imported or exported for up to 6 months. In essence this will maintain the security of the supply chain during what promises to be a period of upheaval for businesses which trade with EU partners.

As a business, the most important consideration is whether the deferring of the declarations works for your commercial business. You will still be required to input all the relevant information from your records into your commercial systems at the time of the transaction, even if you don’t send this to your freight forwarder immediately. However, it does allow you to continue importing business critical goods without incurring potential delays while setting up the new process.

If you are interested in this option, there are a number of factors to bear in mind.


Any UK company importing goods from the EU should have a GB EORI number.

Know your goods

Make sure you are fully aware of your customs obligations in relation to your goods. For example, what is their tariff code? Do your goods attract customs duty? Do they require any other certification, such as an import licence, health certification or certificates of conformity? Does your import declaration require any additional support documentation?

Controlled goods

The deferred declaration process is not applicable in the case of controlled goods, so businesses which import or export these must follow the normal rules for making import declarations.

Controlled goods include:

• Alcohol products
• Tobacco products
• Fish
• Fertiliser
• Plants
• Animals
• Explosives

VAT requirements

Is your business registered for UK VAT? Do you need to be registered for UK VAT? If you wish to use Postponed VAT Accounting, then a UK VAT registration is a necessity to allow this facilitation. All business should retain within their commercial records the import transaction information to ensure accurate duty and VAT is being paid.

Commercial records

Before importing the goods, it’s important to ensure that your business records are of a sufficient standard to document and maintain all the relevant information. In addition to the standard import transaction information held, companies will be expected to record the date and time of arrival of the goods within their commercial premises.


Should you wish to defer making an Import Declaration – you have up to 6 months to submit the Supplementary Declaration to HMRC. Of course, no business would want to be in the position of having to make all their declarations at the same time, so it’s worth putting in place a process for the declarations to be made within a business acceptable timeline.

Monies will be taken from the Deferment Account when the supplementary declaration / deferred declaration has been submitted.

Who will be making the declarations?

Customs Freight Agents can make the declarations to Customs on your behalf. Does your business have a preferred Customs Freight Agent? If you have engaged the services of a Customs Freight Agent, have you checked whether they can or will make Deferred Customs Declarations for your business? Have you asked them if you can utilise their Deferment Account, and is there a cost associated with doing so?

Alternatively, if you intend to make your own Customs Declarations, there are several important considerations. Do you have personnel with the necessary experience and specialist knowledge to carry this out on behalf of the business? Do you have the necessary software to complete these Declarations and communicate with HMRC?

If so, your business will require a Deferment Account, which must be set up and authorised by HMRC prior to your first deferred declaration being presented.

And finally….

The legislative requirements surrounding customs declarations are subject to change at the moment. For the most up-to-date information please visit:

As ever, we are here to help. If you’d like to discuss these changes, and how they may affect your business, please get in touch.

Photos by: Grant Anderson – / @grantandersondotme

The Free Trade Agreement and your Business

Photos by: Grant Anderson – / @grantandersondotme

As the end of the Brexit transition period looms ever closer, we’re all eagerly waiting to find out whether the UK government and their EU counterparts can reach a Free Trade Agreement.

Any such agreement would allow ‘free’ trade between the EU and the UK. It would mean that, if we have a full Free Trade Agreement covering all the relevant sectors, the rate of duty would be 0%, allowing the movement of goods without the payment of any additional duty. So far so good, but there are still several changes in the pipeline that you need to consider, regardless of whether an agreement is reached or not.


There seems to be a common misunderstanding that a Free Trade Agreement would remove the need for any additional paperwork. This is certainly not the case! Businesses must still adhere to all the standard administrative regulations from trade bodies such as HMRC, HSE and DEFRA. Anyone exporting goods from the UK will still be required to complete export declarations in the UK, and ensure that goods are formally imported into the EU with an import declaration, and vice versa.

In order for HMRC to process import / export declarations, detailed and comprehensive documentation must be submitted to them, so it’s vital that you factor in the additional time and cost of consolidating all of this information, as well as process time with HMRC and other Government bodies.


With this increased volume of official documents required across the supply chain, it’s imperative that businesses pay close attention to the terms and conditions of contracts, particularly in relation to risk and the liability for making declarations and paying any relevant duties.

EORI numbers

It’s also worth noting that businesses may require both EU and UK Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers in order to make import / export declarations. If you have already held or been allocated one of these, you can apply to HMRC online. It’s a straightforward process which typically takes HMRC around 3 days to approve.

Trade Tariffs

Finally, businesses should also be aware of both the UK and the EU trade tariffs for their goods, regardless of whether there is a Free Trade Agreement in place or not. Depending on the terms of sale previously agreed with the customer, the liability for paying any additional duties may well lie with them.

If you’d like to discuss these changes, and how they may affect your business, we’d be happy to have a chat. You can get in touch with us at:

Smooth Sailing – Customs Planning Advice for Port Authorities

Exporting support Bethan Customs Consultancy

As things stand, it’s full steam ahead for the end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December 2020. This will have significant implications for port authorities in relation to the customs procedures and documentation required for goods being imported and exported.

Customs entries

Previously free circulation goods were allowed to move within the EU with no tax or duties payable. However, all EU states will now be classed as a third country, and vice versa. As such, port users should be aware that customs entries will be required for all cargo, and may be required to show that the goods comply with EU standards.

Port authorities should also consider whether they have the correct approvals in place to allow commercial businesses / customers to import and export goods through the port?

It’s also worth checking whether port users have the relevant Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers. EORI should be held by all UK and EU businesses looking to import and export goods, from / to each other. Previously EORI numbers issued in the UK would have been accepted in the EU. However, post 31.12.2020, there will be GB EORI and EU EORI numbers. Therefore, all businesses within the supply chain should ensure they have the appropriate EORI.

Temporary storage facilities

All goods being shipped to the EU will require a pre-shipment security declaration before departure, potentially delaying vessels loading/departing. Consideration should be given to whether goods will need to be temporarily stored within the port site.

Any such storage facility must be approved by Border Force, meeting their specific criteria for security purposes, and allowing goods to be examined and customs cleared with minimal disruption.

Import and export documentation

While draft legislation in relation to exports is in place in the UK, the EU’s full expectations will be revealed in the final trade agreement.

So it’s vital to be prepared for changes to UK requirements. The likelihood is that port users will need to liaise more with HMRC in order to progress the clearance of goods. More documents will be required when importing and exporting goods going forward – for example, goods being exported to the EU will require documentation proving that they meet EU standards.

Port approvals

Businesses which currently hold approvals within the EU for importing and exporting may find that these no longer apply in the UK. There is still some uncertainty regarding how the situation will be resolved, but there is the potential that these approvals could be invalid once the transition period ends. Going forward, the onus will be on businesses to ensure their approvals remain valid.

Access to Government agencies

Something else to bear in mind – Government agencies are more likely to be visible within port areas post 31st December 2020, including HMRC, Border Force, Police, Trading Standards, Food Standards, Fishery authorities.

If you’d like to discuss these changes, and how they may affect your business, we’d be happy to have a chat. You can get in touch with us at:

Fancy Joining Our Team?

Compliance Executive…

We currently have an exciting opportunity for a Compliance Executive to join our highly experienced and passionate team.

We are looking for a self-motivated individual with excellent knowledge of customs legislation and a full understanding of supply chain procedures.

If you have the following experience, we would love to hear from you:
– Several years experience within a similar role
– A positive “can do” attitude
– Excellent communication skills
– Excellent knowledge of Microsoft Excel, Word and Power Point

For more information or to apply, please send a covering letter along with your CV to:

Closing Date: Friday 23 October 2020

Why are HMRC Authorisations Important for Business?

The 2nd September is undoubtedly a date for your diary – from tomorrow there are 120 days until – 31 December 2020 – the end of the transitional period for the UK leaving the EU. That figure is important, because it’s the same number of days that it takes for HMRC to process applications for a Customs Comprehensive Guarantee (CCG), something which must be in place before accessing other duty suspension authorisations. This guarantee covers the potential duty liability that a business may have to suspend at the time of importation.

Why is it worth securing these approvals? Put simply, having access to an HMRC Authorisation can secure a more advantageous market position for your business. Given the imminent legislative changes for businesses which import and / or export, having these in place could help your business to avoid potential delays and additional charges as a result of legislative changes.

Holding one of these approvals demonstrates the high standards to which your business adheres in the global market. This is crucial for securing the confidence of your business partners, something that is even more important during these turbulent times.

What’s more, some HMRC Authorisations allow for the suspension of import duties, thus assisting businesses to better manage their cash flow. While certain special procedures can be applied for as a one-off, or for regular use, depending on individual business needs.

These duty suspension Authorisations include:

Authorised Consignee – An Authorised Consignee approval allows for businesses to undertake the customs process away from the border, at an Approved Premises.  This is an efficient way of moving non-Union goods across several customs territories into the UK, while avoiding border delays.

Customs Warehouse – A Customs Warehouse approval allows for businesses to import goods into a customs warehouse with the potential duties suspended.  The goods can be stored for an indefinite period of time within the Customs Warehouse.  Duties only become payable when the goods are released into free circulation.

Inward Processing – An Inward Processing approval allows for businesses to temporarily import goods for the purpose of processing, inclusive of repair, without the payment of duties/ VAT at the point of import.

Outward Processing – An Outward Processing approval allows for the temporary export of goods for processing or repair. Upon re-importation to the UK, you are then able to claim full or partial duty relief.

Authorised Use – Formally recognised as End Use, an Authorised Use approval allows businesses to import certain goods at a reduced or zero rate of duty, provided they are put to a prescribed end use within the approved time frame.

Underpinning all of the above, a business which holds AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) status is internationally recognised for their business compliance standards, in a fashion similar to a ‘kite mark’.

Should you wish to discuss any of the above HMRC Authorisations to ascertain their suitability for your business, please get in touch – we are more than happy to help.

The New UK Global Tariff and Your Business

Brexit may have been pushed out of the headlines, but that doesn’t mean there’s been any let-up in preparations for our exit from the EU.

One of those measures is HMRC’s recently published new UK Global Tariff (UKGT) regime. This Tariff will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff (EU CET) at the end of the Transition Period on 1st January 2021.

The UKGT has been tailored to the needs of the UK economy, making it easier and cheaper for businesses here to import goods from overseas. You will not only benefit from a lower tax regime, but also from reduced red tape and barriers to trade.

The UK Global Tariff will apply for any goods being imported into the UK from any country, with the exception of those that have concluded Free Trade Agreements with the UK already, provided that the products meet the relevant rules of origin and qualify for preferential duty rates.

Certain products will be completely tariff-free under the new regime, whilst others will be subject to a reduced tariff.

So what does this mean for you? What do you need to do next?

We’re almost halfway through the year, and the 1st January 2021 will be here before we know it. There are a number of proactive steps you can take to ensure your business is ready to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the new Tariff:

• Review your current commodity codes
• Prepare for a system update where your ERP system holds classification information
• Check your commodity codes still exist in the new Tariff
• Check which codes are most applicable to your products
• Review the duty rate for the goods
• Consider contractual obligations in relation to price
• Do you need to consider a BTI if your products have gone from a positive rate of duty to a potential nil rate of duty?
• Consider if your CCG is accurately positioned to reflect these changes
• Review any HMRC Authorisations held whereby the classification forms part of the approval (such as Customs Warehouse).

If you’d like to discuss these changes, and how they may affect your business, we’d be happy to have a chat. You can get in touch with us at:

Photos by: Grant Anderson – / @grantandersondotme

Authorised Consignor / Consignee status – the smart way to expedite cross-border transportation

With so many uncertainties still surrounding post-Brexit trading regulations, it’s good to know there are measures available to UK businesses that will streamline the cross-border transport of goods beyond 31st December this year.

One thing we do know is that regardless of the eventual outcome of the EU exit negotiations, the UK will remain a member of the Common Transit Convention (CTC) – a customs procedure that’s available to businesses, enabling them to move goods across borders or territories without paying customs import duties until they arrive at their final destination.

Not only does this deliver cash-flow benefits, it also helps transport goods across the border without delay at the point of importation into the UK, and when exporting from the UK.

Businesses which transport cargo across several borders can expedite this process even further by applying for certain customs simplifications, including authorised consignee and/or consignor status. If you’re regularly moving goods using Transit, you can apply for authorised consignor or consignee status. This will allow you to start (authorised consignor) or end (authorised consignee) transit at your own premises rather than at a customs office, saving a great deal of time and inevitably costs.

If approved, this status effectively puts the business in the place of the customs authorities as either the Office of Destination or Departure. You can apply for both authorised consignor and consignee status. You should bear in mind that in order to be eligible to apply for either or both of these authorisations, you will need to demonstrate a good standard of business practice.

With either or both of these authorisations in place, you’ll be in a position to take advantage of quicker and more efficient import and export transactions, regardless of how the cross-border trading landscape looks after 31st December this year.

If you feel your business could benefit from these authorisations, let’s have a chat. Whether it’s taking a look at your systems to ensure they achieve the required standards, or supporting you through the application process, our team of specialist customs consultants is on hand to help.

Photos by: Grant Anderson – / @grantandersondotme

Customs specialist welcomes HMRC measures to support firms with compliance amid COVID19 disruption

A leading North-east customs specialist has welcomed measures from HMRC to support businesses during this period of economic turbulence caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, but warns that firms must maintain responsibility for meeting their compliance obligations.

Nicola Alexander, Managing Director of Bethan Customs Consultancy in Oldmeldrum, said that while HMRC are taking into account the financial impact of the pandemic, businesses must be proactive in contacting their supervising office as soon as they’re aware of any potential problems in making payments.

Support measures include the potential to delay making payment of deferred customs duties and import VAT if COVID-19 has impacted on a business’ finances and cash flow. In addition, registered importers who pay cash or an equivalent can contact HMRC to request an extension to their payment deadline.

Ms Alexander said: “While we understand that the focus for business-owners right now absolutely needs to be on looking after the health and well-being of staff and working hard to stay afloat, it is nonetheless vital that they keep on top of compliance obligations. HMRC are offering support to businesses during these turbulent times, but will still actively engage in the verification of customs activities, just by electronic means instead of visiting in person.

“Businesses need to continue complying with their customs authorisations, inclusive of the submission of Bill of Discharge reports. The terms and conditions of individual HMRC authorisations are laid out within the authorisation itself. However, if a company is no longer able to comply with a condition of the authorisation because of COVID-19, they should seek permission from their supervising office in HMRC or Border Force to temporarily vary the conditions of their authorisation.”

Ms Alexander also highlighted an important update regarding the dual running of the CHIEF and Customs Declaration Service (CDS) payment declaration systems: “HMRC have decided to extend the migration timelines and keep CHIEF open beyond December 2020. However, there are various steps that businesses must take to prepare for this (if they haven’t done so already), including ensuring that they can provide the additional mandatory data set of elements which may not be required in CHIEF.”

Finally, businesses should be mindful, she points out, that Brexit will still be going ahead regardless of the current situation, with the UK set to formally leave the EU on 31st December this year as things currently stand. “Brexit has been enshrined in law, and negotiations will still be taking place, albeit remotely. With this in mind, now is the time to be applying for authorisations such as Authorised Economic Operator, as there may not be time to complete these prior to our exit date otherwise.”

Photos by: Grant Anderson – / @grantandersondotme