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HMRC internal manual

Strategic Goods and Services: Assessment of risk and offence action

Statement of Respective areas of responsibility between BERR TAU and HMRC: General

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

Exporters should also not be advised by HMRC that cases are pending with BERR where advice has been sought. This usually results in the exporter contacting BERR 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 cases, will always be advised to contact the HMRC official dealing with the case.

If ECO is not able to determine licensability for any reason, either in- or out-of-hours, it is for HMRC to determine any further course of action. Normally, HMRC 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.