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HMRC internal manual

Strategic Goods and Services: Assessment of risk and offence action

Statement of Respective areas of responsibility between BIS TAU and HMRC/UKBA: General

In the complex area of export control it is often not possible for BIS to advise without detailed technical information, so specifications will often be requested by ECO technical officers that HMRC/UKBA will need to obtain from the exporter. It should be noted that ECO technical officers should not be expected to speak directly to the exporter, as there are likely to be legal complications if a prosecution were to be brought.

Exporters should not be advised by HMRC/UKBA that they must consult BIS for a rating. Everyone is entitled to interpret the export control legislation for themselves and there is no obligation to check with BIS. BIS does not provide clearance for given exports and exporters do not have to seek such from BIS. However, where an exporter voluntarily makes a request to HMRC/UKBA for a rating, HMRC will advise the exporter to consult BIS. Under no circumstances must HMRC/UKBA give exporters individual telephone numbers reserved for HMRC‘s exclusive use. Initial enquiries should be directed to the ECO Helpline for exporters on 020 7215 8070.

Exporters should also not be advised by HMRC/UKBA that cases are pending with BIS where advice has been sought. This usually results in the exporter contacting BIS directly only to be informed that ECO officials cannot advise on customs cases - as mentioned earlier, direct contact between ECO technical officers and the exporter is likely to result in legal complications if a prosecution were to be brought. Exporters who do contact the ECO, requesting information regarding HMRC/UKBA cases, will always be advised to contact the HMRC/UKBA official dealing with the case.

If ECO is not able to determine licensability for any reason , it is for HMRC to determine any further course of action. Normally, UKBA officers at the port would contact HMRC Strategic Exports and Sanctions Team for advice, as required, in such circumstances. Out-of-hours this will be via the HMRC Duty Officer. Advice from Criminal Investigations (Customs A/B) may be sought at any time and must be sought if the rating is requested in response to an NES profile or where there may have been a deliberate breach of controls.

Queries concerning the eligibility of goods to be exported under Open General Export Licences will be accepted by ECO, but technical officers will not provide information on licences issued as part of this service, nor on legal exceptions or Crown Immunity issues. Questions in these areas should first be addressed to Strategic Exports and Sanctions Team. Out-of-hours this will be via the HMRC Duty Officer.