Guidance

Get someone to deal with customs for you

How you can hire a person or business to deal with customs for you.

Getting help

You can hire a person or business to deal with customs for you, such as:

  • freight forwarders
  • customs agents or brokers
  • fast parcel operators

What they can do for you (and who will be liable) depends on:

  • the services they provide
  • what you want them to do
  • the commercial agreement you have with them

They’ll need to be established in the EU.

Freight forwarders

Freight forwarders move goods around the world for importers.

A freight forwarder will arrange clearing your goods through customs. They’ll have the right software to communicate with HMRC’s systems.

You can find out how to use a freight forwarder on the British International Freight Association and Institute of Export websites.

Customs agent or broker

Customs agents and brokers make sure your goods clear through customs.

You can hire a customs agent or broker to act as a:

  • direct representative
  • indirect representative

Fast parcel operators

Fast parcel operators transport documents, parcels and freight across the world in a specific time frame. They can deal with customs for you, as part of their delivery.

They cannot act on your behalf without written instructions from you. The instruction must show whether they’re acting for you directly or indirectly. HMRC will only ask for evidence of the authorisation if we need it.

Get someone to act directly

You can hire a person or business to act in your name. You’ll be liable for:

  • keeping records
  • the accuracy of any information provided on your customs declarations
  • any Customs Duty or VAT due

If you give clear instructions and they make a mistake, they may become jointly and severally liable.

You cannot ask someone to act directly if they’re submitting your declarations using:

  • simplified customs procedures
  • entry in the declarant’s records

When acting directly, even if they have authorisation, they can only submit those types of declarations if you have authorisation.

Get someone to act indirectly

You can get someone to act for you in their own name, this means they’re:

  • equally responsible for making sure the information is accurate
  • jointly and severally liable for any duty or VAT

If they have authorisation, you can get an indirect agent to make declarations using:

  • simplified customs procedures
  • entry in the declarant’s records

You cannot ask someone to act indirectly if you’re declaring goods for:

  • inward processing
  • outward processing
  • temporary admission
  • end-use relief
  • private customs warehousing
Published 12 January 2019
  1. Step 1 Make sure your business has an EORI number that starts with GB

    You'll need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number starting with GB to continue exporting goods.

    1. Get an EORI number
  2. and Check your importer has an EU EORI number

    Your importer will need an EU EORI number.

    You'll need to get an EU EORI number if you're exporting to your own business within the EU. You can get one from the customs authority in any EU country.

  3. Step 2 Decide who will make the export declarations

  4. and Decide if you want to export your goods using transit

    You may be able to use the Common Transit Convention (CTC) to simplify how your goods pass through customs and when your importer pays customs duties.

    1. Find out if you can use the CTC
  5. Step 3 Check the rate of tax and duty for your goods

    Your importer will need to pay tax and duty on your goods after Brexit. This will depend on the classification of the goods.

  6. Step 4 Check what you need to do for the type of goods you export

  7. Step 5 Find out how changes to VAT will affect you

  8. Step 6 Decide who will transport your goods outside the UK

    You can hire someone to transport your goods, or you can do it yourself.

    1. Find out how to transport goods outside the UK yourself
  9. Step 7 Get help and support