Customs Declarations Done Right: The Crucial Role of Freight Forwarders and Accurate Data

The importance of getting customs declarations right cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts trade compliance, revenue collection, and facilitates smoother cross-border transactions.

The UK’s HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will imminently issue written communication to freight forwarders, urging their active involvement in ensuring that UK traders accurately complete their declaration instructions for the import and export of goods.

In the written communication, HMRC underscore several vital steps for agents and traders to follow to ensure accurate and efficient customs declarations.

Vital steps for agents and traders to follow to ensure accurate and efficient customs declarations:

Supporting Customers providing the right customs data

HMRC’s ability to match data has been significantly enhanced, allowing them to identify inaccuracies in customs declarations efficiently.

For freight forwarding agents, this means giving careful attention to each import declaration they make on behalf of their clients. By ensuring the declarations are accurate and complete, agents contribute to the overall efficiency and integrity of the UK customs system.

Supporting Customers for Tax Compliance

Professional freight forwarding agents play a pivotal role in assisting their customers to get their taxes right. By guiding traders through the complex customs declaration process, agents can help avoid costly errors and penalties related to incorrect declarations. This support is especially vital as businesses navigate the intricacies of international trade regulations.

Customs agents need to perform adequate due diligence regularly
Customs agents need to perform adequate due diligence regularly

The Importance of Due Diligence and Timely Declarations

Adequate due diligence is critical for customs agents to perform regularly. Proper verification of the information provided by traders ensures that the correct declarations are made at the right time, every time. Timely and accurate submissions not only facilitate the smooth flow of goods but also minimize the risk of compliance checks, delays, or potential penalties.

The Role of Data and EORI Numbers

To improve import declaration data quality and minimize subsequent compliance checks, HMRC urges freight forwarding agents to verify that all their clients hold valid Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers. Complete and accurate details of planned imports are essential for agents to follow the required customs processes effectively.

Maintaining Records for Proof of Payment

Customs agents must declare the correct commodity code, valuation, and origin of goods on behalf of their clients to clear goods through UK customs. It is equally crucial for clients to maintain records of all commercial invoices and corresponding customs paperwork, including C79 certificates, as proof of payment. Proper documentation helps in audits and compliance verifications.

Proactive Correction and Compliance

HMRC’s proactive approach aims to avoid compliance issues for traders. By reaching out to customs intermediaries, traders can correct any mistakes in their declarations before or after clearance. This collaborative effort between HMRC and customs agents ensures a smoother trade process and fosters a culture of compliance.

Responsibilities of Customs Agents

Freight forwarding agents must understand their responsibilities when acting under indirect representation. They share joint liability with their clients for any customs debt related to import declarations. Agents must ensure accurate information is provided on customs declarations and have all necessary records, licenses, and certificates in place. The ability to provide evidence of imported goods when requested by customs is essential, and clear written instructions for representation are crucial.

How Emma E-Doc can help ease the process

Responsible freight forwarders understand that accuracy and compliance are paramount when it comes to customs declarations. They see the immense value that Emma E-Doc brings to their customers, empowering traders with a comprehensive solution for their customs needs.

With Emma E-Doc, traders get:

  • Unprecedented access to all their customs declarations and supporting documents through a centralized portal
  • Full control over their customs declarations, allowing them to run compliance checks and detect errors independently
  • Access to customizable dashboards, alerts, and reports based on their own customs process, needs and requirements

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