Customs don’t need to be a headache

For many companies, customs regulations are seen as a necessary evil and a subject which can cause concern and alarm.

In the 2014 International Trade Survey, undertaken by the Institute of Export & International Trade in conjunction with Trade & Export Finance Ltd (TAEFL), around 7% of businesses identified “taxation and tariffs” as a factor which might prevent them from exporting or developing overseas markets; a further 14% identified “Compliance with overseas regulations” as a factor.

Complying with customs regulations, UK and overseas, is of course a necessity, and one which requires care and attention. Providing inaccurate information, incorrect customs tariff codes or Customs Procedure Codes (CPC) on export or import entries can result in delays to goods, as well as customs queries or inspections, which can have adverse consequences.

Paying too much customs duty when importing will affect a trader’s cash flow and affect the onward sales price of goods; while underpaying import duty can result in the above mentioned customs inspections, which in turn can lead to penalties, fines or even legal action.

The customs tariff can offer legitimate opportunities for companies to optimise their import duties, through effective use of customs valuation rules, and by identifying accurate, but more favourable tariff codes and duty rates (such as when dealing with different products which are imported as “sets”). Favourable and advantageous tariff codes can be confirmed by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or other customs authorities, and “locked in”, through Binding Tariff Information rulings, which provide definitive confirmation of the code for a period of up to six years, allowing use of the corresponding duty rate.

Companies who export or import components or process materials in different countries in- and outside the EU may be able to take advantage of customs procedures such as Inward Processing Relief (IPR) or Outward Processing Relief (OPR), which allow import duty to be deferred, suspended or reduced under specific circumstances. Effective use of customs warehouses, also known as “Bonded warehouses”, can allow goods to be placed into storage on arrival without payment of import duty or VAT.

The key to deriving positive benefits from customs procedures is knowledge; a solid all-round understanding of the Customs environment and procedures can transform a “cause for concern” into a “cause for celebration”, while a positive and proactive relationship with H M Revenue & customs can bring further direct and indirect benefits for a company.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Please Note

Our address has changed

Nucleus International Cargo Ltd
Kingswick House, Kingswick Drive
Sunninghill, Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 7BH

IncoTerms.

The incoterms define the role between seller and buyer at an international transaction. In the contract between the seller and the buyer, the following is determined:

  • The duties of the buyer and the seller.
  • Who takes care of the insurances, licences, permissions and all other formalities.
  • Who arranges the transport until which point and who is responsible for this.
  • The point where the costs and risks pass on from the seller to the buyer.

There are thirteen different incoterms in Incoterms 2000 and 2010. These incoterms take care of the international rights and duties from the buyer and the seller. Six of the thirteen incoterms are about ocean freight. The remaining seven incoterms are regarding all transport modalities. The Incoterms are being prepared and published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The most common terms are:

EXW – ExWorks (2000 and 2010)
This term represents the seller’s minimum obligation since they only have to place the goods at the disposal of the buyer. The buyer must carry out all tasks of export & import clearance. Carriage & insurance is to be arranged by the buyer.

FCA – Free Carrier (2000 and 2010)
This term means that the seller delivers the goods, cleared for export, to the carrier nominated by the buyer at the named place. Seller pays for carriage to the named place.

CPT – Carriage Paid To (2000 and 2010)
This term means that the seller delivers the goods to the carrier nominated by them, but the seller must in addition pay the cost of carriage necessary to bring the goods to the named destination. The buyer bears all costs occurring after the goods have been so delivered. The seller must clear the goods for export. This term may be used irrespective of the mode of transport (including multimodal).

DAT – Delivered at Terminal (named terminal at port or place of destination) (2010)
Seller pays for carriage to the terminal, except for costs related to import clearance, and assumes all risks up to the point that the goods are unloaded at the terminal.

DAP – Delivered At Place (named place of destination) (2010)
Seller pays for carriage to the named place, except for costs related to import clearance, and assumes all risks prior to the point that the goods are ready for unloading by the buyer.

DDP – Delivered Duty Paid (2000 and 2010)
This term represents a maximum obligation to the seller. This term should not be used if the seller is unable to directly or indirectly to obtain the import license. The terms mean the same as the DDU term with the exception that the seller also will bear all costs & risks of carrying out customs formalities including the payment of duties, taxes & customs fees.

FAS – Free Alongside Ship (2000 and 2010)
This term means that the seller delivers when the goods are placed alongside the vessel at the named port of shipment. The seller is required to clear the goods for export. The buyer has to bear all costs & risks of loss or damage to the goods from that moment. This term can be used for ocean transport only.

FOB – Free On Board (2000 and 2010)
This term means that the seller delivers when the goods pass the ship’s rail at the named port of shipment. This means the buyer has to bear all costs & risks to the goods from that point. The seller must clear the goods for export. This term can only be used for ocean transport. If the parties do not intend to deliver the goods across the ship’s rail, the FCA term should be used.

CFR – Cost and Freight (2000 and 2010)
This term means the seller delivers when the goods pass the ship’s rail in the port of shipment. The seller must pay the costs & freight necessary to bring the goods to the named port of destination, BUT the risk of loss or damage, as well as any additional costs due to events occurring after the time of the delivery are transferred from seller to buyer. The seller must clear goods for export. This term can only be used for ocean transport.

CIF – Cost, Insurance, Freight (2000 and 2010)
The seller delivers when the goods pass the ship’s rail in the port of shipment. The seller must pay the cost & freight necessary to bring goods to a named port of destination. Risk of loss & damage is the same as CFR. Seller also has to procure marine insurance against buyer’s risk of loss/damage during the carriage. The seller must clear the goods for export. This term can only be used for ocean transport.

CIP – Carriage and Insurance Paid (2000 and 2010)
This term is the same as CPT with the exception that the seller also has to procure insurance against the buyer’s risk of loss or damage to the goods during the carriage. This term may be used for any mode of transportation.

DDU – Delivered Duty Unpaid (2000)
This term means the seller delivers the goods to the buyer, not cleared for import, and not unloaded from arriving means of transport at the named place of destination. The seller bears all costs & risks involved in bringing the goods to the named place other than “duty” (which includes the responsibility for customs formalities & payment of those formalities, duties & taxes) for import into the country of destination. Buyer is responsible for payment of all customs & duties & taxes.