Research and analysis

Exploring SME interaction with UK Customs

Qualitative research to understand the challenges UK Small and Medium Enterprises face when importing and exporting goods to countries outside the EU.

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An efficient, effective customs service is essential for economic growth and protection of the UK border.

This research reveals the current barriers and challenges that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) perceive and encounter at all stages of the process of importing and exporting. This helps HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) identify where we need to improve our services.

The research confirms that international traders generally view the UK customs service positively, although there is room for improvement in some areas. The key issues are associated with overseas (non-EU) customs services.

Research was conducted using:

  • initial scoping interviews
  • two consecutive online communities
  • three focus groups

The sample included a range of SMEs (40 participants) in terms of size, turnover, age of business and trading profile. It also included 17 intermediaries, eg customs agents, servicing a range of SMEs.