Accountancy firm wins place on HMRC list of accredited customs agents

Jan 12, 2021

THE CREATION of the only accountancy-led dedicated customs declaration service in England has landed accountants Hiller Hopkins a place on the exclusive list of customs agents accredited by HM Revenue & Customs.

The firm, which has an office in Milton Keynes, joins global players PwC, Deloitte and EY. 

The Hillier Hopkins customs declaration service, the only one to be offered by a mid-tier UK accountancy firm, will help businesses with the documentation needed to move goods to and from mainland Europe and to Northern Ireland. It will ensure that businesses pay the right amount of VAT and duties if required. 

Duties will arise if a product originates or is made from a significant proportion of components that originate outside the UK and the EU. 

The service is led by VAT and indirect tax director Ruth Corkin, an adviser to the government who sat on its Alternative Arrangements for Northern Ireland Committee and a champion for the access to HMRC’s systems for small and medium-sized businesses for them to be able to prepare customs declarations.

Ruth Corkin.

HMRC estimates that businesses will need to make some 255 million customs declarations a year now that the UK exited the transition period, an increase of 200 million on the 55 million currently made each year, she says.  

“Businesses will find significant advantages in having their accountant manage customs documentation, not least of which ensuring the correct duties are paid and VAT is accounted for in the correct way.” 

The paperwork is relatively straightforward to complete. However, she adds, HMRC’s Customs Declaration Service and its Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight systems are not. “CDS is difficult to access by businesses and can take upwards of 12 months to register and secure the software needed.” 

Currently, most customs declarations are made by intermediaries and freight forwarders. There is, however, a chronic shortage of advisers operating in the market and with gaps in the service provided. 

Ms Corkin said: “At present intermediaries and freight forwarders often do not keep documentation on customs declarations for more than a few months and that can provide real challenges for businesses when making VAT and tax returns.

“That is why the Hillier Hopkins customs declaration service offers a holistic approach combining both the documentation needed together with the VAT and tax supporting documents.”

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