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Customs special procedures – timing is everything

Customs duty partner, Simon Sutcliffe, looks at what the customs special procedures include and why firms may now decide that now is the time to prepare themselves for a 'no deal' Brexit.

During the recent rounds of Brexit negotiations there has been a large amount of information and guidance emanating from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The department admitted that many applicants would not have had enough time to become fully authorised for existing customs special procedures and other helpful regimes before the initial Brexit departure date back in March.

To recap, these special procedures include Inward and Outward Processing, Customs Warehousing, temporary admission and end-use all of which usefully suspend or relieve customs duty. Other useful regimes include Authorised Economic Operator (AEO), Authorised Consignee and Consignor and Comprehensive Customs Guarantees. At the time, the pressing deadlines of March prevented many firms getting to grips with these useful regimes and simplified procedures.

However, with the Brexit deadlines currently being reset to 31 October, firms may decide that now is the time to prepare themselves for a potential ‘no deal’ or a harder form of EU exit. As a result, they may now have sufficient time to make any preparations and seek authorisation for these regimes and procedures.

The current timescales imposed upon HMRC by the Union Custom Code and the Commission Delegated Regulation to make ‘a decision’ as to the final authorisation varies from procedure to procedure.

For example:

  • Inward and Outward Processing – 30 days
  • End-use – 30 days
  • Temporary admission stands – 30 days;
  • Customs warehousing – 60 days
  • AEO – 120 days but with a 30 day ‘triage’ period used by HMRC to ascertain if the application can be considered further.

As these time limits are imposed upon HMRC (even with a potential request for an extension by HMRC to consider more documents or ask further questions) applicants should consider reviewing the usefulness of these special procedures and regimes post-Brexit. They may consider gathering any necessary documentation, make any adjustments to their customs processes and be ready to make an application if they feel it would ultimately benefit their business model.

For more information, please contact Simon Sutcliffe.

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