Policy & Compliance

A tale of ongoing woe – which can be avoided

It is clear that there continues to be significant Customs non-compliance in the supply chain – which can have serious consequences for Members if they do not take appropriate measures to protect themselves.

Over the past couple of years BIFA has received numerous enquiries from Members regarding Customs Representation and the Rules of Establishment. It is clear that there is significant regulatory non-compliance amongst traders, whether relative to a specific regime or a generic discipline such as valuation. It is equally clear that

Customs is determined to tackle this issue. The anti-fraud operation based at Bicester is being put onto a more permanent basis with the awarding of a five-year contract to Wincanton and a location move to Milton Keynes. Members, when acting as Customs agents, must

remember that the customs entry is a legal declaration which if incorrect can lead to civil penalties, or in the worst cases criminal prosecution. Given the scale of the problem, it is clear that almost any Member can inadvertently find itself dealing with shipments that will be of interest to the anti-fraud operation. Given the nature of the fraud and the origin of such

goods, those engaged in importing deepsea containerised movements from the Far East should be particularly vigilant. Evidence coming to light suggests that fraud relative to the under-valuation of goods has occurred for many years. It is often stated that

Customs can go back seven years relative to VAT non- compliance; in reality the authorities can go back further

where necessary. So, the question is, how can Members protect themselves?

It is crucial to remember that even in a post-Brexit scenario the basic legal requirements will remain unaltered. The key mechanisms that Members can use to protect themselves are to ensure that they: • Understand the main different types of Customs representation

• Understand the associated subject of establishment • Exercise due diligence when taking on new business.

BIFA has developed guidance on Customs Representation and due diligence which is published in the BIFA Good

10 April 2019

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