Date: 06.05.2022

Importers from EU risking fines and worse

The EU introduced full import controls at the end of the Brexit transition period, while the UK government has now delayed full import control four times, with concerns rising that UK importers are not making appropriate declarations, risking fines and penalties.

The UK government’s own Public Accounts Committee officials warned months ago that much remains to be done to introduce import controls and the government’s aspiration to create the most effective border in the world by 2025 is a noteworthy ambition, but it is optimistic, given where things stand today.

Ambition is usually good – but it needs to be deliverable.

The decision to defer food checks and security declarations due to come into force in July is raising fears that more import shipments will not be properly declared by importers, or subject to HMRC scrutiny.

The Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) is HMRC’s IT platform for moving goods into or out of Northern Ireland and Great Britain, but its rollout, adoption and operation has been fraught with issues for UK border officials. Concerns are mounting that import shipments are simply bypassing the system’s oversight and weaknesses will continue to be exploited until import safety and security declarations are introduced, which will not be before the end of next year.

Without safety and security declarations being imposed on the 1st July, Border Force officials cannot see what needs to be stopped and which arrivals are without pre-lodged declarations, which means vehicles coming off the ferry could be carrying any number of undeclared shipments.

Reports in the trade press accuse some hauliers of taking opportunistic shortcuts without understanding the repercussions that may follow and until GVMS is operating effectively there may be little chance to restore order.

While deferred entries ended last June there are suggestions that some hauliers still use the entry in declarant’s record (EIDR) shortcut for GVMS entries, with others ticking the ’empty vehicle’ option for GB inbound.

Part of the problem is that a goods movement reference can be finalised via GVMS with the entry of just one ‘movement, or employer, reference number (MRN/ ERN), running the risk that hauliers could avoid declaring all shipments onboard a truck.

HMRC told the press: “HMRC has a strong track record in tackling all kinds of avoidance, evasion and non-compliance, and we will continue to employ an end-to-end approach to tackling customs risks.”

We always saw the EIDR delayed declaration scheme process as fundamentally risky, which is why none of our importers adopted it, opting instead for full clearance and consequently no liability to HMRC. 

It is now clear that there will be issues arising from HMRC’s border ‘easements’ and potential pitfalls, that we are pleased our customers have avoided.

Our CuDoS customs brokerage platform is optimised continuously, in line with the regimes in force on both sides of the Channel, automating and submitting customs declarations, for simple and compliant border processing in either direction.

To learn more and to discuss your trading objectives, please contact Elliot Carlile who can talk you through the options.