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Custom-made Customs solutions

Customs is a requirement for any business looking import their goods into the UK, or export their goods to a 3rd country. Each business is different, and will require different approaches when dealing with customs. Our consultancy service offers a varied range of tailor made services to advise your business on supply-chain analysis, Duty/VAT analysis, customs regime analysis, and data analysis. In a post-Brexit trading environment, customs compliance and management of your businesses’ customs operations is more vital than ever. With new trade agreements and new laws and requirements being announced regularly, a health check of your business could open you up to new opportunities and offer savings in Duty, VAT, and process flow management.

Did you know? The Apollo 11 crew had to submit their samples from the moon to customs after landing in Hawaii!

AEO Consultancy

AEO or Authorised Economic Operator is an international WCO standard to confirm and certify that a business operates within the laws and regulations set by governing bodies, and certifies that a company operates compliantly and correctly within those boundaries. AEO accreditation opens up doors to large global companies, and proves that your business is compliant and here to stay. As well as this, AEO certification reduces the risk of your goods being stopped at a customs border point, and you are given priority as an AEO business.

To gain AEO, you need to be able to demonstrate document procedures of your compliant operations, as well as prove the safety and security of your business, staff, operations and agreements. While this may seem daunting, SSO consultancy takes away the jargon and headache surrounding your application by providing easy to follow guidelines and recommendations. Our AEO service is split into 5 stages:

  1. AEO preparation: this involves a gap-analysis of your current business and supply chain.
  2. Findings: Our team will publish a gap-analysis report of our recommendations which would need to be implemented in order to gain AEO
  3. AEO application: SSO will help you step-by-step in applying for AEO authorisation to HMRC
  4. HMRC: liaising with HMRC alongside your business, helping you answer their questions and respond accordingly
  5. Approval! When AEO has been granted, our team will perform a check-up one year after approval to ensure all guidelines are being followed

SSO are able to provide bespoke and detailed AEO consultancy, working alongside your company to advise on the best approach to gaining this accreditation.

Duty Regime

Anyone importing into the UK may have to pay duty depending on the country of origin of the imported goods. If you believe you currently pay duty on your goods, there is a chance that you would be able to benefit from a duty regime to reduce costs from your business. Duty regimes are varied and there are a multitude of options which would benefit your business. SSO are here to advise you of the different regimes and consult you on the best option for your business. Some of the examples are below:

Bonded Warehouse

SSO manage and operate numerous bonded warehouses on behalf of clients. A bonded warehouse allows goods to enter the UK without entering the UK market. This means if you regularly pay duty and VAT on goods entering the UK, this will be completely suspended while being stored within the Bonded Warehouse. This duty is only payable when the goods are then removed from the Bonded Warehouse into free circulation in the UK. If you re-export these goods, duty would not need to be paid at all! Why would you want to use a bonded warehouse?

  1. If you bring goods in in bulk preparing for peak seasons, a Bonded Warehouse will allow you to avoid paying large sums of duty up front, and instead only pay duty when you remove the product part-by-part from the customs warehouse.
  2. If the goods are re-exported after being stored in a Bonded Warehouse, you will avoid paying Duty in the UK

An appointed customs agent will need to be in place when your bonded warehouse is approved. They will then manage the declarations to HMRC on all ins and outs of your customs warehouse, as well as compliance management.


What is Inwards Processing Relief?
IPR is a HMRC Duty/VAT relief authorisation which allows full relief on customs duty for goods that are brought into the UK, then processed or re-worked before being re-exported. You can hold these goods under IPR for a set period of time to suit your business. For example, if you bring products in to be reworked that take an average of 1 month to be fixed, you would look to apply for a 2-3 month IPR allowance. If you are bringing parts in to build a machine, you will need a longer IPR allowance, up to 12 months for example.

Unlike Bonded Warehouse, while goods are imported into your IPR authorisation, they can move around the UK freely while being reworked. You do however need to keep stock and management records of your current IPR balance, and properly maintain and manage the declarations into IPR and your re-exports out of the procedure. In order to manage and maintain this, an appointed clearing agent should be used to manage compliance and stock records.

Should I consider an Inward Processing Relief Application?

SSO recommend that if you currently pay more than £1,000 per month in Duty, an IPR consultancy session is recommended.


Freeport’s were a major announcement for post-Brexit trading relations with the rest of the world. Whereas IPR and Bonded Warehouse both contain specific benefits, a Freeport will incorporate both elements and will provide looser regulations for management of the customs warehouse. By storing goods in a Freeport zone, you will have the benefit of full Duty and VAT suspension, as you would with a Bonded Warehouse. On top of this, if goods are then re-exported, this Duty will be completely avoided.

A Freeport regime will also incorporate the benefits of IPR. You can bring goods into a Freeport, re-work them and send them back out of the UK. However, if you manufacture products brought into the UK from overseas, you will have the opportunity to not have to pay this duty even if it is kept in the UK. For example, if you brought in a raw product from China at 10% duty, and manufactured it in the UK, you would then be eligible for the duty to be reduced to the lower finished rate, or avoided completely as the goods are now UK origin.

To qualify for Freeport, you need to prove that your business is up to AEO standards. You also need to be situated in one of the 8 Freeport zones in the UK. If you aren’t, you should look at companies within the catchment area. To get a full debrief on Freeport, you can book in a free introductory session with SSO.