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Duty Savings: Getting a financial guarantee to save more

Businesses wishing to save duty need to put up money before they can save, argues Arne Mielken of Customs Manager Ltd. But how?


Step-by-Step guidance to get a guarantee

There are broadly six steps to follow to get a guarantee from the customs authorities.


Type of Guarantee

Businesses either need

  • an individual guarantee or

  • a customs comprehensive guarantee

to enter goods into a customs special procedure such as transit, processing, special use or storage to defer duty.


A customs guarantee is an agreement to cover customs debt that:


1. has arisen, known as actual debt, or

2. will arise from certain customs special procedures, known as potential debt


Individual guarantee

You may have to use an individual guarantee if you:

  • move goods no more than a few time times a year using Common or Union Transit

  • use authorisation by declaration to put goods into customs special procedures (inward processing, temporary admission or end use) no more than 3 times a year

  • need to cover a large amount of customs debt that cannot be covered by your customs comprehensive guarantee

  • need to provide a guarantee as a condition of your approval for a duty deferment account to delay payment of Customs Duty, excise duty and import VAT (if not using Postponed VAT accounting)

Customs Comprehensive Guarantee

When you need a customs comprehensive guarantee

  • You may get authorisation to use a customs comprehensive guarantee if you move goods more several times a year using Common or Union Transit.

Customs authorities may usually tell you when a comprehensive guarantee is required, for example

  • for full authorisation to put goods into customs special procedures (inward processing, temporary admission, or end-use)

  • to operate a temporary storage facility or customs warehouse

Conditions to meet to apply for a customs comprehensive guarantee


To get this type of guarantee, you usually need to:

  • be established in the country you are applying for

  • have no serious or repeated infringements of customs or tax rules in the past couple of years, usually three.

  • have no record of serious criminal offences related to your business activities in the past years, usually three

  • To submit your application for authorisation to use a customs comprehensive guarantee you must be a company official of the business.

  • Depending on your type of business, you’ll need to be a:

company official, such as company director or company secretary

  • sole proprietor

  • trustee

  • partner

Estimate the amount of debt your guarantee needs to cover

You will also need to provide an estimate of the amount of debt to be covered by the guarantee. This will be your guarantee limit. If you go over this you’ll need to increase your guarantee. If you do not your goods could be stopped at the border.


Duty deferment

For duty deferment, work out how much Customs Duty, excise duty and import VAT will be chargeable. You’ll need to give the maximum monthly amount. This is known as ‘actual debt’.


Transit

When using common and Union transit, work out the maximum amount your guarantee will need to cover. This debt is not chargeable if all transit movements are discharged correctly and is known as ‘potential debt’.


Customs special procedures or temporary storage

When goods are under temporary storage or special procedures (like inward processing, temporary admission, or customs warehousing), work out the maximum amount that your guarantee will need to cover for Customs Duty and excise duty.


These debts are not chargeable straight away and are known as ‘potential debt’.


Reduce the amount your guarantor needs to provide

You can apply to reduce the amount your guarantor needs to provide to 50% or 30% of the potential debt covered by your customs comprehensive guarantee. You can also apply for a full waiver reducing the amount your guarantor needs to provide for your potential debt to 0%.


For at least the last 3 years (where possible), you may need to provide:

  • financial statements

  • forecasts

  • management accounts

  • loan agreements

  • auditors’ reports

Simplifications for AEOs

If you’re an Authorised Economic Operator for customs (AEOC or AEOF) and want to apply for a full waiver reducing the amount your guarantor needs to provide for your potential debt to 0%, you must include your AEO details on your application for authorisation. You can only get a duty deferment reduction if you’re an Authorised Economic Operator for customs (AEOC or AEOF). If you have AEOC or AEOF status, the level of guarantee your guarantor needs to provide for Customs Duty covered by your duty deferment account is reduced to 30% of the duty amount. If you want to apply for a full waiver reducing the amount your guarantor needs to provide for your potential debt to 0% you must include your AEO details on your authorisation application.


Other schemes may be available that can reduce the amount of guarantee you need to provide if you’re deferring import VAT or excise duty.


Where and how to apply

Complete the required application form or accessing the relevant system (e.g. in the EU the Customs Decision System) and providing supporting documents with your online guarantee application. After you apply, customs will carry out assurance checks. They will let you know if you can get any reductions and tell you the amount of the guarantee you’ll need. If you do not meet the conditions when you apply for a customs comprehensive guarantee you can use an individual guarantee to cover the customs debt.




Manage the guarantee

If your circumstances change, and you do not meet the conditions for a reduced guarantee, you may be required to change your guarantee amount, so it’s no longer reduced.


If this happens, you may have to

  • tell customs if you need to change your guarantee amount

  • calculate the estimated Customs Duty and import VAT from your imports and check your guarantee always covers them

You may also be able to use an individual guarantee for one-off or high-value imports to avoid going over your customs comprehensive guarantee.


Customs may regularly check the use of guarantees and may tell you if your guarantee amount is incorrect.

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