New information released by HMRC has shown that penalties from customs audits have increased by 34% over the last 12 months.

This more aggressive stance by HMRC doesn’t come as a huge surprise at a time when the UK Government is leaving no stone unturned in seeking out revenue, but the figures should come as a stark warning to import businesses: accuracy in customs declarations is critical and the cost of mistakes has never been so high.

It’s long been the case that errors on customs declarations have slipped through the net, with just 2% being inspected at the time of import.  This has resulted in a natural complacency towards the accuracy of declarations, which are often compiled by various employees across many parts of a business – with no-one taking overall responsibility.

Declarations remain open for audit for three years.  This means that when an audit uncovers a current issue, further investigation may show that it dates back historically – with penalties snowballing over time.

Adam Wood, Commercial Director at Barbourne Brook said:

“We are urging businesses to review their customs management and operations and be prepared for an audit.

Any errors that are discovered and voluntarily disclosed will avoid the imposition of penalties, which are likely to be significant.

It can be challenging to review customs operations as they are likely to span many departments including finance, logistics, procurement and sales but there are now software solutions available to facilitate the process.”

An image of lorries with shipping containers

CAT 360 is a plug and play software programme that provides an instant insight into the accuracy of declarations – which can include identifying potential customs duty reclaims.


If you found this article interesting, you may like to read:

Contact Us

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your customs management or operations, please contact Adam Wood on 01905 914031 for a no obligation conversation.

About Barbourne Brook

Barbourne Brook are a proactive team of customs duty planning experts with a wealth of knowledge and insight in the customs sphere, offering scalable solutions backed by industry-leading technology.

Get in Touch

The Hop Merchant
21 Sansome Street

+44 (0)1905 914031


Powered by Odyssey New Media