What to do if your freight forwarder/customs broker won’t provide customs representation

January 18, 2023

If you’re looking to import goods into the EU or UK as a non-resident company, you may find that you have custom clearance issues. The most common obstacles are caused by customs brokers not wanting to represent a non-resident company due to the increased liability risk they're obliged to take on. This risk may include:

  • Becoming jointly liable for unpaid import duties
  • Shipment data can be audited up to three years after clearance; if the importer disappears, it will be the brokers' problem
  • The broker will also be liable for any unpaid fines or penalties

If you find yourself in this scenario and are selling the goods to a resident customer, you can ask your customer, as the recipient of the goods, to act as the Importer of Record (IOR). This means that the goods will clear customs in their name using their details, however (just like the broker) they're often unwilling to act in this capacity due to the admin and risk it creates.

So, what can you do if you find yourselves in this situation as a non-resident company?

You have two options: to engage a specialist company, like Fiscal IOR, to provide an Importer of Record service. This only works when you retain ownership of the goods, meaning they're not being sold to a customer.

The second is that you clear the goods in your own name and engage a resident company to act as an indirect representative on your behalf. This representative takes on the above risks.

To do this, you will need to ensure that you have a valid Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number and, likely require a Value Added Tax (VAT) number for the country that you're importing the goods into. These numbers allow you to be shown on the import documentation as the IOR and potentially claim back any import VAT that you pay.

Indirect representation from Fiscal IOR

Fiscal IOR provides a comprehensive indirect representation service that enables you to clear goods into the EU and UK. Our sister company, Fiscal Solutions, can also assist with VAT and EORI registration as well as import VAT reclaims.

We're experts in customs representation and helping our clients clear goods into the EU and beyond. By choosing Fiscal IOR as your indirect representative, you will benefit from our:

  • Experienced and knowledgeable team of consultants providing the latest advice
  • Ability to liaise with freight forwarders and shipping companies to confirm the process
  • Assistance with submitting the correct paperwork
  • A competitive pricing structure based on the service alone (no requirement to do the brokerage, forwarding or final mile of transport)
  • A quick response to enquiries and questions
  • Ongoing support throughout and after import
  • Ability to assist with VAT and EORI set-up via our sister company, Fiscal Solutions
  • Experience working with hundreds of clients successfully clearing goods via our indirect representation

If you’re facing any challenges with the clearance of your goods, then call us on +44 (0)20 7831 5115 or enquire via our website on the form below.

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