Mike Court reveals his top tips to ensure your documents remain customs compliant whatever course Brexit takes.

As I have been delivering international trade compliance training and coaching to many different UK businesses over the last few months, I am constantly asked the same question:

“What does HMRC consider as the best audit files to keep proving export/importer into and from the UK?”

Here is a list of the most important documents each business is required to keep in an audit file:

Imports:

  1. A copy of the buyer’s purchase order, showing details of the equipment to be supplied
  2. Copies of ANY correspondence with the supplier in relation to changes to the original PO/contract
  3. Copy of supplier’s commercial invoice, which contains item description, value, origin of goods, tariff code (to be checked against UK tariff for UK customs entry)
  4. Copy of supplier’s packing list with net and gross weights
  5. Copy of AWB (air freight/courier service), BOL (ocean freight) or CMR (road freight)
  6. Copy of the completed C88/SAD (Single Administrative Document)

Exports:

  1. Copy of the client’s purchase order/contract
  2. Copy of any correspondence between seller/buyer in relation to any changes to the original PO/contract
  3. Copy of seller’s commercial invoice, which contains item description, value, origin of goods, UK tariff code for UK customs entry
  4. Copy of seller’s packing list with net and gross weights
  5. Copy of AWB (air freight/courier service), BOL (ocean freight) or CMR (road freight)
  6. Copy of AWB (air freight/courier service), BOL (ocean freight) or CMR (road freight)

I have been in International Trade for many years and I fully endorse the collection of these import and export documents into a shared access file so they can be seen by the people who need them.

Filed with the documents, a simple spreadsheet that covers the movement of goods is also recommended along the lines of:

Imports

DateItemFrom whomFrom whereWhenC88/SAD entry numberUnique Consignment Number (UCN)

Exports

DateItemTo whomTo whereWhenC88/SAD entry numberUnique Consignment Number (UCN)

Armed with this simple desk top tool you will be able to find any HMRC documents without spending a lot of time and effort in locating the required files.

We don’t make any of those procedures up, they are brought together after many years of running international trade operations, and having spent many hours working with HMRC – International Trade Matters Ltd can work with you to understand your organisation and help you provide the information needed to build a picture of the measures you need to take, so let us help you. This is real people!

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