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Why Am I Being Asked to Appoint a Direct Customs Agent?

As a Freight Forwarder & Customs Agent we are increasingly being asked by HMRC to provide evidence that we hold written instruction on file from the importer/exporter to show we have been appointed as a Direct Customs Agent. Therefore, recently, we have been asking companies to complete and sign a new form instructing GCL Logistics Ltd as Direct Customs Agent and incorporating BIFA terms of trading under which we operate. This request has raised a few questions with some customers so we hope to use this article to clarify the need for such an instruction.

Increased regulatory risks Following Brexit, Freight Forwarders and Customs Agents have been exposed to increased regulatory risks. These risks result from changing patterns of international trade and greater exposure to supply chain fraud. The most common problems reported to BIFA involve: • Misdeclaration of the goods

• Under declaration of value

• Issues relative to origin rules

• Other valuation issues

• Anti-dumping duty infringements. Whilst there has always been a requirement to be appointed as a Customs Agent, HMRC have put emphasis on holding written instruction to act as Direct Customs Agent on behalf of importers & exporters to help mitigate these risks. Due Diligence

As part of this process the customs agent is required to carry out due diligence checks on the trader. Including evidence that the company is 'UK established' (operating from a UK base). 'HMRC expects customs agents to perform checks on a trader, for example, to demonstrate the ability to pay customs debts incurred for importing certain types of goods. Some of these checks may include:

  • checking where the business is established

  • demonstrating the business have their own bank accounts

  • providing a set of annual financial accounts, including trading accounts and balance sheets

  • demonstrating financial solvency or credit worthiness, including whether a company is subject to liquidation or administration proceedings

  • demonstrating they are not subject to bankruptcy proceedings or county court judgement (CCJ) orders for outstanding debts

  • ensuring your customer has the appropriate certifications and licences in place before the goods are imported, depending on the types of goods

  • ensuring your trader has taken the necessary steps to make sure their supply chain is not involved in fraudulent activity

The list is not exhaustive. You may want to perform other checks.'

Good Practice

At GCL, In addition to the Direct Customs Agent Instruction we also use this opportunity to ensure we have incorporated our BIFA terms of trading and we also collect your full shipment instruction (customs clearance and transportation preferences). This comprehensive approach helps us ensure the most efficient and careful handling of your goods, from start to finish.

We are committed to ensuring the smoothest and most secure journey for your goods, from the moment they enter our care. By requesting your cooperation with these forms and incorporating BIFA terms of trading, we aim to provide you with the highest level of service and protection. If you have any questions or require a copy of the form, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We look forward to serving you and your business with the utmost diligence and professionalism.


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