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Step-by-step guide to taking the complexity out of customs

First step is to register for EORI number to allow shipments to pass through customs

You should put in place a process for filing customs declarations by appointing a customs agent or doing it in-house

You should put in place a process for filing customs declarations by appointing a customs agent or doing it in-house

 

They say the best way to eat an elephant is one piece at a time. We asked some experts for their advice on taking on customs in bite-sized chunks.

The first step is to register for an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number to allow shipments pass through customs, according to KPMG retail and manufacturing lead Niall Savage.

After that you should put in place a process for filing customs declarations by appointing a customs agent or doing it in-house, he adds. You should also assess whether there is any import VAT payable and separately put a process in place for that.

“The customs intermediary sector in Ireland is quite small,” says Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) chief executive Mick Curran. “They have been looking after 1.6 million declarations per annum. They are expert at what they do but they can’t ramp up to 20 million overnight. If you can’t get access to a customs agent your first port of call should be your haulier. Can they do import and export declarations for Ireland and the UK? If you’re already working with a freight forwarder, they should be able to do it. If you don’t have a haulier or a freight forwarder then you’ve got to look for a customs agent.”

Data quality is critically important, according to Mazars VAT director Alan McManus. “Make sure you have all the information required for the customs declaration. You also need to be sure of the origin of the goods. That means exploring with your suppliers the origin of all the components and raw materials that went into the goods.”

Michael Nolan of Declaron advises companies to agree incoterms with their trading partners. “These set out the roles and responsibilities of the parties, specifically who is responsible for creating and managing declarations and when,” he says.

“Do you plan to use a cash upfront or a deferred account method for payment of your duties?” he asks. “If so, you need a Revenue Trader Account Number (TAN).”

You also need to know the correct tariff classifications for your goods. A handy source to look up these codes can be found at tariffnumber.com.

Enterprise Ireland regional manager Giles O’Neill advises businesses to learn from other firms in their area. “Talk to businesses who have done it before and know what’s involved in trading with third countries,” he says. “Your own networks can be very valuable. The Enterprise Ireland prepareforbrexit.com website is also a very useful source of information.”

Another useful source of information he recommends is the Irish International Freight Association Brexit Toolkit available here.

Finally, CILT is offering a free Clear Customs virtual training programme to upskill staff in customs procedures and documentation for continuous or future trade with or through the UK.