3 of the mistakes that importers most frequently make with customs declarations 

A customs declaration – defined by Cambridge Dictionary as “an official document that lists and gives details of goods that are being imported or exported” – may be just one component in the process of transporting shipments across borders, but it is nonetheless one of critical importance. 

Unfortunately, with Brexit having brought about major changes to the customs duty regulations and requirements for those trying to move goods between the UK and the European Union (EU), there has been a lot of scope in recent years for mistakes to be made with customs declarations. 

In the event that such errors do happen, the consequences can include expensive delays and even penalties. So, in our capacity as providers of efficient, reliable and compliant cross-border freight services here at KTL, we thought we would put the spotlight on just three kinds of breaches that can occur in importers’ handling of customs declarations. 

Failing to include all the necessary information 

It might seem all too obvious a mistake for any importer to make, but it is one that continues to happen all too frequently, nonetheless. 

In the UK, any failure to include essential information on a customs declaration can lead to the tax authorities – HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – rejecting the declaration, and the import or export being delayed. 

If the correct information is subsequently provided and accepted by HMRC, the shipment will then typically be allowed to proceed. Nonetheless, it is an avoidable hiccup that importers can do without, particularly when it arises with time-critical shipments. 

Declaring goods under the wrong customs classification 

From the perspective of a business that is new to the process of making customs declarations, it might not seem to be an overly big problem for goods to be declared to HMRC under the incorrect customs classification (at least in cases where it makes no difference to the duty rate that is applied). 

However, whether you might think it to be a minor oversight or not, the real-world consequences are clear; getting the customs classification for a given shipment wrong can lead to the declaration being rejected, thereby causing the entire delivery to be delayed. 

Alternatively, in light of the fact that the authorities only carry out a modest number of sample checks of goods against the codes declared for them, an incorrect code may cause the importer to pay an incorrect amount of duty. 

That payment, then, could end up being an overpayment, or even an underpayment, which could lead to penalties when this is discovered at a later stage. 

Not checking customs declarations that a freight forwarder has completed 

If, as a business, you entrust a third-party freight forwarder or customs broker with the process of completing and submitting a customs declaration for you, it is important to understand that as the importer, you will still be responsible for the information submitted, as well as the import taxes due upon customs clearance of the shipment. 

Or to put it another way, in the event of a customs broker or freight forwarder making any errors in your name, it will be your business that is responsible to HMRC. 

This could be a particular concern if you are working with a freight forwarder, and you do not receive copies from them of any customs declarations that are made on your behalf. 

The good news is that you can help tackle this risk by undertaking detailed and accurate checks on a sample of customs declarations, so that in the event of you spotting any errors, you can use post-declaration amendments to rectify them. 

The above are just a few examples of the various ways in which the customs clearance process might cause your business stress, hassle, and delays that you simply do not need. That, in turn, could provide all the more reason for you to place your trust in KTL UK as your go-to, reliable provider of cross-border freight services. Please feel free to contact us today to learn more about our expertise.