Post-Brexit UK Port Operations At Risk, Warns Compliance Specialist

Departure from the EU could be fast approaching, and leading AEO compliance specialists, VARTAN, is urging UK ports to get their customs compliance ‘house in order’. HMRC and Border Force need to know that consignments do not leave the port until they have been customs cleared and have no holds on them. ‘Unlawful removal’, in all probability will lead to civil penalties.

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UK Ports of Entry have been given an extension from the Union Customs Code (UCC) deadline, initially 1st May 2019, to get their customs compliance status resolved with the ‘Customs Simplifications’ version of Authorised Economic Operator certification (AEOC) recognised as key to this compliance status check.

Miles Vartan elaborates: “There are over 300 potential Ports of Entry into the UK. HMRC and Border Force need to be able to work with ‘Trusted Traders’ to enable them to target their resources effectively. All ports apply and adhere to the DFT International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) certification which HMRC shall respect when undertaking an AEOC certification assessment. Certain ports store and handle consignments that are in the international supply chain outside the approved ISPS/RA area – a successful AEO certification encompasses all areas within the respective port and not just the ISPS/RA area.”

Every Port Authority is required under the UCC to provide a comprehensive customs guarantee (CCG). Further reinforcement, if it was needed, comes from the National Frontiers Approval Unit (NFAU), who has stated that a port with AEOC will be entitled to hold a Customs Wharf and Temporary Storage Approval and can claim a 100% waiver against the cost of this guarantee. Without the comprehensive customs guarantee, technically the Customs & Wharf approval can be seen as not valid, and the ability of the respective Port to operate is put at risk.

Miles Vartan concludes: “Those who have realised AEO status are already reaping the benefits of this highly respected, and essential standard. An AEOC application requires all applicants to prove and demonstrate an effective audit trail; in our experience, the AEOC application process often identifies administrative inefficiencies and ‘gaps’ – with our assistance, the net result of the application is for the applicant to have an improved and more compliant audit system.” VARTAN Consultancy has assisted over 10% of all UK companies that have attained AEOC and AEOS (Safety & Security). VARTAN has worked with many port groups, including Forth Ports, London Gateway and Hutchinson Ports to successfully achieve and maintain this internationally recognised quality mark.

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