Phill Machell, director of Interim Management at Ford & Stanley, considers the critical questions that importers and exporters MUST ask themselves to save money and avoid HMRC fines.
With the hangover from the implementation of the Brexit trade deal still lingering, UK businesses that rely heavily on the import or export of products have been left facing a wall of red tape, tick-box questionnaires and a never-ending stream of paperwork to ensure compliance, avoid fines and, most importantly, ensure arrival on time.
Horror stories dominate the media, with clothes retailers admitting it is cheaper to burn EU returns than process them, food distributors complaining of rotting meat in stranded containers and polls reporting 74% of British firms being hit by delays with EU markets.
Andrew Lynas, managing director of Coleraine-based Lynas Foodservice, told MPs that buying mozzarella cheese from one of his long-standing suppliers in England now requires eight separate processes under the Northern Ireland protocol. Yes, eight.
To avoid falling foul of the many HMRC bear traps – and there are many – Ford & Stanley has got together with industry experts, all of whom are members of the Institute of Export and International Trade, to produce a list of crucial bench-marking questions which will help corporates to assess their current compliance position:
- Would you pass the HMRC audit?
- Did you know even if you use a third party to Import / Export, your company is ultimately responsible for the submissions?
- Do you have multiple Customs fines?
- Are you overpaying Customs duties?
- Are you experiencing product delays through Customs?
- HMRC are looking to recover all incorrectly processed duties. Are you at risk?
- Are you aware of the free trade opportunities for business due the UK new trade deals?
- Do you understand your customs control processes?
- Do you know your legal requirements?
- How do you verify you are compliant?
- Are you paying the correct VAT and duty?
- Do you understand where to look to minimise costs?
- Are you taking advantage of Customs Special Procedures?
When we put the points above to companies that we engage with, from SMEs to PLCs, the vast majority could not answer, or were unaware of, at least two of the potential issues raised.
Furthermore, as we dug deeper, it became apparent that the support given to British importers/exporters by HMRC has been deficient, to the point that many are left legally and financially exposed.
At Ford & Stanley, our Institute of Export and International Trade advisors are all qualified HMRC auditors. Not only can we help you to master the day-to-day complexities of the Import/Export marketplace, we can also help you to access the ever-changing and increasingly expansive free trade relationships being developed and agreed by our UK Government’s trade teams.
We have expert executive interims who can:
- Immediately review current process via gap analysis.
- Assess areas for assessment from HMRC to ensure compliance and avoid any unnecessary fines.
- Make recommendations on process improvement for Customs procedures.
- 365 days remote expert advice. (requires retention agreement)
- Review VAT payments made and duties paid for conformance.
- Advise on submissions to reduce delays.
- Work through any special process applications where required.
- Offer ongoing support touchpoints and reviews with 24/7 contact
If you would like some informal advice, please get in touch for a chat and make sure you’re on the right side of HMRC regulations.