Customs Clearance Routes & Authorities – Reminder

1st Apr 2020

It has been a busy 12 months for our Litigation team with clients instructing us from not just the UK and Europe but from all corners of the world. The devastating effect of Covid -19 has led to additional enquiries from new clients looking to import a variety of products. We have also seen a reduction of imports from China.

HMRC and UK Border Force

As a reminder, all goods that are imported into the UK need to clear customs before they’re allowed to enter, the most important part of that process relates to the National Clearance Hub (NCH).

The NCH is the only site/service that controls the movement and processing of international goods into and around the UK.

The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and processes around 360,000 import and export declarations each year. If any entries need to be altered and amended, the NCH also takes responsibility for this – although that service is only open from 9am to 4.30pm.

The NCH has a wide variety of duties and responsibilities that include the customs clearance route system. When the NCH processes goods, they will allocate them a route – this decides how they’ll be cleared through customs and what checks will need to be performed.

  • Customs Clearance Route 0 means that they’re waiting on another government system’s response before they allocate a route
  • Customs Clearance Route 1 is the most common route; it is a full document check that requires all of your original documentation to be examined in detail. This can take up to 12 working hours to clear
  • Customs Clearance Route 2 consists of a physical examination of your goods as well as your documents, your original paperwork is still required. Route 2 has no time limit; however, customs do try to keep examinations brief
  • Customs Clearance Route 6 allows goods to be instantly cleared without any paperwork needing to be presented

The majority of goods normally fall into category 1 or 2, so the need to have documents accurately prepared is crucial.

Depending on the type of product you’re importing, the authority examining it may be different.

While most products will be tested by Trading Standards, some may be controlled by Port Health.

Port Health is the dedicated body for preventing diseases from entering the UK. Due to the nature of their specific field, Port Health mainly focus on food and food-related products that touch food (such as cutlery).

It is common for people to be caught out by innocuous items such as food containers, plates and cutlery, but as these touch food products Port Health requires more information than you’d need on a typical import

If you are importing goods that Port Health may be involved with then it is important to have all the necessary test certificates and certificates of origin.

The litigation team have a wide experience and understanding of the systems and processes controlling the worldwide importation of goods into the UK, including from China and other Far Eastern countries and from South America and the United States of America. We are well versed in dealing with Border Force in relation to the detention, stoppage and seizure of goods at all major points of entry, including Felixstowe; London Gateway; Heathrow; Gatwick and Stansted.

If you need advice and guidance with the systems we have discussed, or in dealing with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), UK Border Force, Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Medical Regulatory Health Authority (MRHA) then contact us immediately for a rapid response.