UK government weighs up a standard for customs intermediaries

Stephen Parker. Source: BIFA

UK forwarder association BIFA has urged its corporate members to take part in a government consultation on whether a voluntary standard should be introduced for customs intermediaries.

BIFA said that a previous government review had found that traders found it difficult to identify good quality intermediaries and is therefore conducting a new survey to seek views on the possible introduction of a standard.

The consultation is also all part of the UK government’s previously stated ambition to create the most effective border in the world by 2025.

BIFA pointed out that UK customs statistics show that 78% of all customs declarations for international trade in 2022 were intermediated by a third party, and 99% of traders relied solely on the use of an intermediary to declare all of their trade. 

Steve Parker, BIFA director general, said: “The government’s announcement acknowledges that its previous review found that customs intermediaries provide a high-quality and invaluable service to traders, but also suggested that it can be difficult for traders, who may be new to customs processes, to identify a good quality intermediary to support them with trade.

“It adds that Government wants to ensure that UK traders are able to easily identify and access a high-quality customs intermediary, and says that the latest consultation seeks views on introducing a voluntary standard for customs intermediaries, with the overall aim of improving standards across the sector.

“Whilst there is currently no requirement for intermediaries to have a formal accreditation or qualification in the UK, BIFA will be interested to see what happens to the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) scheme should the consultation lead to the creation of a voluntary standard.”

He added: “BIFA remains ready to work with government to provide a collective view from those companies that have keep trade flowing during a very difficult few years as a consequence of the UK’s exit from the EU, plus the impact of the COVID pandemic on supply chains.

“But it is important that individual member companies also make their views known and we hope that government is ready to listen to our members’ thoughts and learn from them.”

The consultation will run until August 30 and can be viewed here.

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]