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Commercial Angles' Newsletter - July 2001

UK Export Declaration Procedures from 28 January 2002

Customs has a duty, no pun intended, to control the passage of goods leaving UK territory. Even exports to EU countries, need to be controlled in order for Customs to:

  • enforce restrictions or prohibitions and to prevent the movement of illegal goods such as drugs or pornography.
  • collect trade statistics.
  • act on behalf of other Government departments.
  • enable Common Agricultural Policy refunds to be claimed or levies paid.
  • prevent diversion fraud. Diversion fraud happens when goods, which having been declared for export - thereby avoiding payment of VAT and, in the case of alcohol and tobacco, excise duties - are then diverted to the home market. Diversion fraud has become big business since the introduction of the Single Market. The action of fraudsters deprives the Exchequer of large amounts each year and hinders legitimate businesses.

The current export control procedures, unlike the  current import procedures, are manual. They create a paperflow that benefits no-one and the stage is being reached where the system will become unmanageable. The current system causes unnecessary delays to exports and that in turn can cause problems for exporters. Different ports currently use slightly different systems, and there is a belief that the different practices are being exploited by traders - knowledgeable traders routing traffic through those ports that are least likely to cause delays. The New Export System, (NES), is intended to reduce the paperwork mountain and to standardise the procedures at the different ports.

The NES will require exporters to modify their internal procedures if they are to benefit from the change. Exporters who do not want to adopt the electronic procedures will still be able to export using manual systems. However, these manual systems will mean Customs processing full pre-entries into CHIEF at the frontier, before giving permission to progress. The Charter Standards will apply to these entries, which should mean clearance within 12 working hours, but electronic clearance will definitely be quicker.

The existing manual simplified export procedures consist of Local Export Control, (LEC), and the Simplified Clearance Procedure, (SCP). Both these procedures will be withdrawn on 28 January 2002 and replaced by two new electronic procedures:

  1. Simplified Declaration Procedure, (SDP), and
  2. Local Clearance Procedure, (LCP).

Simplified Declaration Procedure

SDP will replace SCP and will be available at frontiers, enabling exporters to make an initial simplified pre-shipment advice, (PSA), followed by a full supplementary declaration up to 2 weeks after the goods have left UK. Both messages for SDP must be sent electronically.

Local Clearance Procedure

LCP will replace LEC and will be used by exporters who want to clear goods at their premises. As for SDP, both the initial and supplementary declarations must be sent electronically.

Electronic Transmission Protocols

Customs have responded to the initial apathetic or hostile response to these proposals by offering exporters a choice of three ways in which to transmit their declarations. This should allay the fears of some exporters that the cost of gearing up for electronic messaging would be high. Transmission of data will be through:

  1. Community Service Providers, i.e. the port inventory systems. This option is more likely to be used by freight forwarders.
  2. e-mail - either the X100 or internet system.
  3. an on-line web form.

The NES will benefit Customs by removing a lot of the paperwork. It will also allow Customs to subject entries to risk profiling through CHIEF - something they do automatically to import entries. Electronic risk profiling will help Customs to target their inspections on high risk areas. This should not increase the total number of inspections but should reduce inspections of innocent trade.

The NES may benefit exporters - many more exporters will be able to use LCP than were able to use LEC. Although the charge from a clearance agent for completing an export entry - perhaps £40 - is not high, these charges can soon add up for an exporting company. It may be cost-effective to bring this procedure in-house, particularly as Customs are offering an on-line web form. However one of the main advantages of inland clearance is that any intervention by Customs takes place at the exporter's premises. If there is to be an examination, the exporter can break out the goods with his own crew, which not only reduces costs but also enables the examination to take place in a controlled environment. Customs are keen that frequent exporters should use LCP because it fits in with their programme of control away from the ports.

Export clearance

The clearance will take place in two stages. The exporter will complete an electronic pre-shipment advice including a Unique Consignment Reference, (UCR), to enable CHIEF to profile the consignment. At the frontier the UCR will be entered into CHIEF as an arrival message and Customs will perform any anti-smuggling checks. After shipping the Community Service Provider or eqivalent will issue a departure message. This message will be accepted as evidence for VAT zero rating.

All in all, NES should benefit everybody.

Articles from previous newsletters

Acquisitions & Mergers | Big Brother | Business Plans | Climate Change Levy | Company Car Tax | Contracts of Employment | Corporate Immigration | Corporate Responsibility | Data Protection | Energy Audits | Environmental Liability | Euro Notes & Coins | Exports to Germany | Export procedures | Fraud recovery | Out of Court Offers | Payroll Review | Prevention of Fraud I | Prevention of Fraud II | Prevention of Fraud III | Product Liability | Redundancy | Stakeholder Pensions | Temporary Contracts | Travel Expenses | Value of the Euro | Work Permits | More articles |

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