Apply for grants to help your business with customs declarations

Find out what you can apply for to get funding for recruitment, employee training, IT and training projects.

You can apply for grants to help your business with customs declarations.

You can apply to get funding for:

  • recruitment, training and IT to help your business to complete customs declarations
  • co-funded training project to help your business complete customs declarations
  • trader-training to understand customs

Who can apply

Your business must not have previously failed to meet its tax obligations and either:

  • currently be established in the UK
  • have been established in the UK for at least 12 months before submitting the application or hold Authorised Economic Operator status

In addition, your businesses must meet one of the descriptions below:

  • complete or intend to complete customs declarations on behalf of your clients
  • be an importer or exporter and complete, or intend to complete, declarations internally for your own goods
  • be an organisation which recruits, trains and places apprentices in businesses to undertake customs declarations
  • trade with the EU and do not intend to complete your own declarations, but want to undertake customs training

What you must use the grants for

Recruitment, training and IT improvements

You must use the funding to cover the recruitment and salary costs of new employees, where the new employee started on or after 12 June 2020, who will help your business complete customs declarations.

You can also use the funding to cover the salary costs of employees who are redeployed from another part of your business to undertake customs declarations. These new roles for redeployed employees must increase the capacity of the company to deal with customs declarations.

The training must give you or your employees the skills to:

  • complete customs declarations
  • carry out customs processes – this can include relevant training in safety and security

The training does not have to lead to a formal qualification.

If you want to arrange the training internally, you can use the funding for the cost of delivering the training, like related stationery, room hire, catering and travel and subsistence costs.

If the training will be delivered by an in-house trainer, you can also use the funding to cover the reasonable day rate of the trainer.

You cannot use the funding for other unrelated training.

You must use the IT funding to buy software that will help your business to complete customs declarations more efficiently.

It must be a ready-made solution. You cannot use the funding to commission bespoke software.

You can also use the funding to:

  • buy hardware that’s needed for the software to run
  • install and configure the software and hardware
  • buy the first year licence
  • train employees to use the software

You cannot use the funding for unrelated networking costs.

You can also use the grant to reimburse what your business has spent on relevant IT improvements and training since 12 June 2020.

Co-funded training project

If you are a business who completes (or plans to complete) customs declarations, there will be an opportunity to apply for funding under General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) training aid as well as the grants offered now.

The eligibility requirements are the same.

However applications for training aid under GBER work differently from applications to the existing scheme. If you apply for GBER training aid you must define your own ‘training project’ and confirm that you need the aid before work begins.

Trader training

If you trade with the EU and are new to customs, you can use the training grant to complete basic customs training to find out more about what you have to do.

The grant will provide funding for training that provides both you and your employees with an understanding of customs declarations or other declarations required to complete customs processes, or customs processes and using customs software and systems.

The training does not have to lead to a formal qualification.

Amounts of funding available

Recruitment, training and IT grant

The grant will give you £3,000 towards recruitment costs for each new employee. Upfront recruitment costs will not be covered for an employee redeployed from another part of the business, unless this is part of an external recruitment campaign.

You could also get up to £12,000 to cover the salary costs for each new or redeployed employee.

The grant will give you up to 100% of the actual costs of externally-provided training for your employees, up to a limit of £1,500 for each employee on the course.

It will also cover the cost of training you run internally, up to a limit of £250 for each employee on the course.

The grant will give you 100% of the costs relating to your IT expenditure to improve the efficiency of making customs declarations.

Trader training

If you are applying for customs training for traders, the grant will cover up to £1,000 per organisation. You can apply for funding for up to 100% of the cost of training.

State aid limitations

These grants will give you up to 200,000 euros, which is the maximum amount of state aid available. This limit applies to the total of all grants applications received in the last 3 years.

Co-funded training project

When you apply under GBER you’ll need to provide the following information about your training project:

  • name and size of it
  • a description of it, including start and end dates
  • its location
  • a list of costs, including quotes relating to individual items
  • the amount of funding you need, and how you’ll want it paid

Eligible costs can include:

  • trainers’ costs
  • operating costs relating to the project
  • trainees’ personnel costs for the hours during which they took part in training

Valid training includes training on how to:

  • complete customs declarations
  • manage customs processes and use customs software and systems

The limits to grants limit are:

  • a maximum of 2 million euros
  • not to exceed 50% of the eligible costs - this may be increased up to a maximum of 70% of the eligible costs as follows:
    • by 10% if the training is given to workers with disabilities, or disadvantaged workers
    • by 10% if the aid is granted to medium-sized enterprises
    • by 20% if the aid is granted to small enterprises

Applicants cannot claim aid under GBER for the same activities that aid has already been granted for, or use this aid as a co-investment.

To be eligible for support for a co-funded training project through GBER Training Aid, your business must not be an undertaking in difficulty.

How to apply

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is administering the grants for HMRC.

Apply online through PwC.

After you’ve applied

If your application is successful you’ll get a grant offer letter.

You will receive the funding for the cost of recruitment and then 50% of the eligible salary costs once the grant offer is issued. The remaining 50% of salary costs will be paid when you have provided the new employee’s contract, signed and dated, and first payslip. You’ll need to claim for this within four months of your grant offer.

You’ll need to submit proof of how much you’ve spent on IT improvements or training within 2 months of getting the grant offer letter.

You’ll then get the grant within 30 days. It’ll be paid by Bacs to a UK bank account in the name of the person or organisation who applied.

Following a successful grant application we will contact you for further information to check how the funding has supported your organisation to deliver its plans.

How to treat the grants for tax

When calculating your business’s taxable profits, you need to match the treatment of the grant to the expense covered by the grant. For example, if the training expense is deductible, then you should include the amount of grant in your calculation of taxable profits so that the expense is offset.

If your business has spent more on capital expenditure than is covered by the grant, like IT equipment, you can get capital allowance on the amount not covered by the grant.

Your business cannot get capital allowance on the amount of grant covering the cost of your business’s capital expenditure.

Published 22 November 2018
Last updated 30 October 2020 + show all updates
  1. Information has been added to the page about General Block Exemption Regulations (GBER) training aid.

  2. Information in sections 'Who can apply', 'What you must use the grants for', 'Amounts of funding available' and 'After you've applied' has been updated.

  3. The time limit for grants for employee recruitment has changed to 'before 31 January 2021'.

  4. You can now apply for funding towards hiring new staff to help your business complete customs declarations. More information about this has been added.

  5. Information about how to treat the grants for tax has been added.

  6. Applications have reopened for the training and IT improvements grants.

  7. Applications for the grants are now being accepted - the link to apply has been added to this guidance. More information about the amount of funding available, and what information you'll need to apply, has also been added.

  8. First published.