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Compliance and Opportunity

Due to the deemed complexities surrounding Customs Law, it is our experience that customs duties are generally overlooked by business and considered a tax which cannot be managed or reduced. Further, many business leave all aspects of customs duty planning to their customs clearance agent and assume all the savings available are achieved on their behalf. It is our experience that this is rarely the case, due to the lack of knowledge the customs clearance agent is given in relation to the importer’s supply chain.

Import duties, freight costs and other related expenses impact directly on the bottom line for businesses. Additionally businesses can risk non-compliance and miss the opportunity for duty planning; both of these issues impact on margins and reduced competitiveness for the business within its industry sector.

Through a supply chain review the correct duty position can be ascertained and duty efficiencies identified, in many cases this also includes the opportunity to claim overpaid customs duty on a retrospective basis.

Additionally we look to complete the review with as little convenience the importer as possible. The extent to which the importer can be involved in the process varies and we are flexible to your requirements.

Review Results


During a review of a high street clothing retailer’s supply chain we identified an opportunity in relation to separating the value of the clothes hangers from the value of the garment at the time of importation. This was due to the operation of a close-loop recycling programme and the fact the hangers were designed for re-use.

Following detailed presentations to HMRC we obtained a ruling to allow customs duty to be calculated separately at either 6.5% or 0% for the individual clothes hanger rather than circa 12% for the garment (subject to the country of origin).

Due to the millions of hangers involved in the supply chain this resulted in substantial savings for the retailer both retrospectively and against future imports. Further, this was the first time within the EU that clothes hangers were to be permitted to be valued for customs purposes in such a manner and resulted in a Customs Information Paper being issued in 2012.

Classification – Following an approach by a retailer we reviewed the classification codes allocated to over 17,000 of its products for compliance purposes. Our review identified many products which had been incorrectly classified resulting in considerable overpayments of customs duty. We worked directly with HMRC on behalf of the client to agree a reclaim methodology and reclaimed over £2m in overpaid duty, which was approved and settled my HMRC within three-months.

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