One year after Brexit – Indirect representation is still the way forward for non-EU importers

January 31, 2022

It’s been over a year since Brexit and although it’s clear that freight forwarders and brokers have a better understanding of what is needed to clear goods moving between the EU and the UK, the majority are not prepared to represent and take the risk of acting as an indirect representative for non-EU importers. 

What is an indirect representative?

You may have heard the term indirect representation a lot over the last year, especially if you’re a UK company trying to clear goods into the EU or vice versa. 

This has become somewhat of a buzzword within the shipping industry and essentially means that the shipper or broker clearing the goods as the declarant on behalf of a non-EU importer, becomes jointly liable for the import. 

Importing goods as a non-EU company under indirect representation

The first and most important decision for a non-EU importer to make is how and where they will import goods. Often, this is decided by looking at where their customers reside or where they’re using a third-party logistic warehouse to fulfil their goods to the EU. 

Over the last year, Germany has become one of the most popular places to bring goods into the EU. Many of our clients use Germany to import goods as they take a more efficient approach when it comes to the import clearance process. It’s also geographically situated in the middle of the EU so when selling to customers in other EU countries, it can play a key role in keeping delivery times down. 

However even in Germany, unless the importer has incorporated an EU company, an indirect representative is still required and it’s often very difficult to find a shipping company to act in this capacity due to the liability (namely being accountable for import taxes for at least three years), which they will incur.

So, what are the options available for non-EU companies when importing into the EU? These are limited to:

•    Incorporating a resident business somewhere in the EU – This allows shipping companies to act under direct representation when representing this company at import, which means they can clear the goods without becoming jointly liable. The downside here is that it’s a very costly and time-consuming process to set up a company, and this often leads to businesses incurring additional direct taxes (such as corporation tax) in the country of incorporation.

•    Find a shipping company to act as the indirect representative – Some shipping companies are willing to act as the indirect representative. However, this is rare and businesses will often find that even when freight providers agree, they’re quick to change their mind when they understand the risk associated with providing this service.

•    Use a third-party company to act as the indirect representative – Many businesses choose to appoint a third-party indirect representative, such as Fiscal IOR. This means that the third-party company becomes jointly liable for the import formalities instead of the shipper and ultimately helps importers to clear their goods.

Why choose Fiscal IOR

In what has been a testing year for many importers and freight forwarders, Fiscal IOR has proven to be a professional and successful customs representative. Fiscal IOR provides a comprehensive indirect representation service that enables non-EU importers to clear goods into the EU and UK. This service includes professional support, assistance with commercial invoices, and liaising with shipping companies to help the import process run seamlessly. 

Get in touch

If you would like our help to get your goods moving again or would just like further information on our service, then call us on +44 (0)20 7831 5115 or enquire via our website on the form below. 

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