Customs Q&A

CCL’s Rudee Bertie answers some of the more commonly asked questions about how Customs works and what CCL can do to simplify the process of getting your goods cleared.

Q: Rudee, tell me about you and your company, how long have you been in this business?

A: I've been involved with the freighting/logistics industry since 1985 when I started as an apprentice in a freight forwarder’s Import Department. Since then I’ve worked with various organisations in the airfreight cargo and courier industry at Heathrow Airport. I founded CCL in 1990 and I’ve made other contributions to the industry too, such as guiding the software development for the C88 entry declaration which has made this process efficient and reliable.

Q: "Customs" seems to be a very general term that is used in the transportation business. What is "customs"? Who are these people? What are they trying to accomplish?

A: Customs is a generic term used throughout the world. It stands for the recognised government body responsible for border control, import and export of goods (commodities) and the policing of all traffic coming in and out of a country. In the UK, Customs is HMRC "Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs". HMRC looks after the collection of all taxes, duty, VAT and excise as well as control of illegal substances, contraband, counterfeit, drugs, etc.

Q: What does CCL do to ensure a client’s goods move through Customs smoothly?

A: CCL ensures that the correct paperwork is received and presented to HMRC and that an entry declaration meets the requirements and follows the complex rules, regulations and guidelines imposed by HMRC. We are also on hand to assist HMRC with any consignment that needs a documentation examination or a physical inspection. This helps to speed up the clearance process if there are any issues, as we are there to mediate on the client’s behalf.

Q: It seems like CCL moves material through the process faster and more efficiently. What is the difference between the clearance process with a company like CCL versus a large integrator?

A: CCL has the flexibility to think laterally in identifying clearance solutions for our clients. We are small and nimble and offer a service which is efficient, cost effective and bespoked to each individual client’s needs. But we are also substantial and well established enough to offer added-value to our clients in, for example, helping them to secure new business.

Q: How do the custom officials decide which shipments to review?

A: Most shipments are reviewed randomly. Around 1 in 10 shipments will go Route 1 on entry. Route 1 specifies a documentation examination only. Occasionally a Route 1 will be reselected to Route 2, which is a physical examination. Because all entries are logged electronically, HMRC looks for our assistance in detecting rogue importers or exporters. If values do not equate to the commodity description, size, pieces or package weights, this alerts HMRC and will invariably be the catalyst for a Route 2 review.