Customs changes from 1 January 2021

Most smaller businesses will not have the resources to train and employ their own customs clearance staff in which case you may have to consider using a customs agent or broker. We have reproduced the advice on the GOV.UK website on this critical issue below.

If you do import or export goods from and to the EU you could consider one of the options that follow:

You can hire a person or business to deal with customs for you, such as:

  • freight forwarders
  • customs agents or brokers
  • fast parcel operators

What they can do for you (and who will be liable) depends on:

  • the services they provide
  • what you want them to do
  • the commercial agreement you have with them

They can act for you either as a:

  • direct representative
  • Indirect representative

They cannot act on your behalf without written instructions from you. The instruction must show whether they’re acting for you directly or indirectly. HMRC will only ask for evidence of the authorisation when required.

Freight forwarders

Freight forwarders move goods around the world for importers.

A freight forwarder will arrange clearing your goods through customs. They’ll have the right software to communicate with HMRC’s systems.

Customs agent or broker

Customs agents and brokers make sure your goods clear through customs.

Fast parcel operators

Fast parcel operators transport documents, parcels and freight across the world in a specific time frame. They can deal with customs for you, as part of their delivery.

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