HMRC has launched a programme of funding to assist UK businesses that complete customs declarations. Every business that trades outside of the EU must make a declaration whether importing or exporting. Often this is outsourced to a Freight Forwarder, but may also be completed in-house. The continuing uncertainty of Brexit means that companies that have only ever sold to the EU will need to learn how to complete declarations and existing freight agents will need to expand their capacity. The UK’s relative lack of Customs training and qualifications has long been identified as an issue. With these grants, HMRC appears to be taking the first steps to rectify this situation, while providing a welcome boost for businesses preparing for the UK’s exit from the EU.
Applications close on the 5 April 2019, so any business that may be eligible to claim should be made aware now.
What kind of business can apply?
Any business that completes customs declarations for their own business or on behalf of others and is established in (or has a branch in) the UK. This includes Customs Brokers, Freight Forwarders and Fast Parcel Operators. It also includes businesses who intend to submit their own declarations in the future.
What is on offer?
There are two separate grants on offer:
- Customs Compliance training for Customs Declarations and Processes
This grant will provide 50%-70% of the cost of training employees, up to a limit of £750-£1050 per employee depending on the size of the business. The course training:
- Must address the completion of customs declarations and processes
- Should allow attendees to help other businesses with import and export processes
- Does not have to lead to a formal qualification
To apply for this grant, your business must either:
- Complete customs declarations for yourself or someone else (or intend to in the future)
- Import from, or export to the EU and complete customs declarations (or intend to complete customs declarations in the future)
The grant cannot be used to fund:
- Existing costs of current training
- Unrelated training
- IT Improvements to improve Customs Declarations
This grant is primarily aimed at agents who complete declarations on behalf of other businesses (such as Freight Forwarders). It will provide up to €200,000 (the current maximum amount of state aid available as per EU law) towards the purchase of software that will help a business to complete customs declarations more efficiently.
The grant can also be used:
- To buy hardware needed for the software to run
- To fund the installation and configuration of software and hardware
- To purchase a first year license
- To train employees to use the new software
The funding cannot be used:
- For unrelated networking costs
- The business must currently complete customs declarations for importers and exporters
- Have 250 employees or fewer
- Have an annual turnover of £50 million or less
- The software must be ready-made (i.e. not a bespoke commission)
How to apply:
The application process for the grants is being administered by a third party on HMRC’s behalf. Further details can be found here.
The application can be accessed here.