Take care with customs

A vessel loaded a cargo of bulk wheat in the UK. The shippers were a large trading company.

The trading company were obliged to issue a financial bond with the rural payments agency, which in the normal course of events would have been released following the shipment.

The agent received the documents on the afternoon of the ship’s final day of loading and lodged the entry in the customs system that afternoon, but failed to notice that the cargo was not showing as “arrived” in the customs system. The ship subsequently sailed that evening without customs having an opportunity to inspect the cargo. This resulted in the trading company losing their deposit.

The agent appealed to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), but unfortunately they upheld the original decision which meant the repayment of the bond would not be forthcoming. The agent was held liable by the shipper.

ITIC handled several of these types of lost Common Agricultural Policy claims in the 2000s and we cannot recall one occasion when HMRC exercised flexibility when cargo was exported before customs had the opportunity to inspect it.

So, be careful with your customs entries.

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