HMRC has announced a range of measures intended to simplify customs processes to reduce the administrative burden on business. This includes responses to consultations conducted earlier this year on:
- introducing a voluntary standard for customs intermediaries;
- simplifying customs declarations by cutting the amount of data traders must provide; and
- potential improvements to the procedure for temporarily importing goods.
Introducing a voluntary standard for customs intermediaries
In June 2023, HMRC published a consultation on introducing a voluntary standard for customs intermediaries. This sought views on whether such a standard would encourage improvements in quality and consistency across the sector.
Having received 55 written responses, including a response from ICAEW, HMRC has decided to proceed with plans to introduce a voluntary standard. HMRC noted in its response feedback from ICAEW that consideration should be given to how this standard would interact with existing standards for tax agents, such as Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation.
Starting in spring 2024, HMRC will work with the British Standards Institution to develop a standard that is suitable for certification. This will involve co-design between government and industry, and a public consultation on the draft text of the standard.
The future of customs declarations
HMRC and HM Treasury published a call for evidence in June 2023, seeking views on how customs declaration requirements could be streamlined and how technology could be used to make meeting these requirements as simple as possible.
In its response to the call for evidence, ICAEW’s Tax Faculty welcomed the exercise to remove unnecessary data requirements from customs declarations on the basis that this would save time and money for businesses importing and exporting. However, the faculty cautioned against introducing changes that may have unintended consequences.
Following the responses to the call for evidence, the government will proceed with simplifying customs declarations by reducing the information that traders have to provide by up to a quarter. Further details will be published in due course.
Bringing goods into the UK temporarily
Following a call for evidence on the temporary admission procedure, the government has identified three areas for potential change:
- eligibility criteria;
- conditions of use; and
- timing requirements.
The government will consult further with industry in 2024 to establish how specific policy changes could deliver improvements to support traders importing goods temporarily into Great Britain (GB).
HMRC’s joint customs consultative committee is working on a project to modernise customs authorisations. This will include reducing the number of authorisation processes from 42 standalone authorisations to five groups of authorisations. A new customer portal for customs authorisations is expected in 2024.
Changes to customs guarantees will also be made later in 2024. The changes will allow more traders to access customs procedures that allow them to delay duty payment without a requirement to pay for a financial guarantee.
The transit process allows goods to be moved quickly and reduces the number of declarations required when moving goods to or through Common Transit Convention countries. The government has also announced three improvements to the transit process to make it simpler, cheaper, and more accessible:
- from 7 December 2023, authorised consignees will no longer be required to physically unload goods at their approved locations to end a transit movement if the movement originated at an authorised consignor’s approved location and the goods were moved under a seal;
- from 7 December 2023, HMRC will remove the requirement to submit an export declaration when goods under transit are loaded onto ships, trains or planes in GB for use or consumption on board, providing evidence of the goods leaving GB is retained; and
- in 2024, the government will introduce a simple digital process to allow authorised consignors to add a client’s premises quickly and easily to their authorisation to start transit movements from these locations.
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