Export experts at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce are helping hundreds of firms and individuals every month grapple with complex documentation to ease movement of goods abroad – and stave off potential fines of thousands of pounds.
The demand for Carnets from West Midland firms has risen dramatically from 40 to 400 a month since the UK left the European Union in June 2016 – and the Chamber’s documentation experts have stepped into the breach to keep the wheels of industry turning.
David Harris, who heads the documentation team after 25 years at Chamber House, said: "The ATA Carnet simplifies the customs procedure into a single document and makes the importation process much quicker and easier to handle."
"The world of export documentation can be difficult and complicated to those who are new to international trade. Even the most seasoned exporters can experience problems when completing the necessary paperwork for their shipments."
"Here at the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce we have more than 50 years’ experience in assisting exporters and issuing them with a wide range of documents and we are able to streamline the whole process for members in our free ATA Carnet consultation with one of our ATA Carnet experts."
"The process is incredibly efficient and could save members thousands of pounds in potential fines from HMRC."
David said the international trade landscape had changed significantly since the UK’s departure from the European Union with several new trading requirements introduced since the end of the transition period.
"As of January 1, 2021, temporary movement of goods from the UK to the EU have needed to undergo customs formalities such as customs declarations or an ATA Carnet."
"Previously, goods have been able to move around Europe without an ATA Carnet thanks to the benefit of free movements of goods that being an EU member granted the UK – but this is no longer the case."
David said post Brexit demand had seen the clamour for Carnets increase tenfold to 400 a month. "ATA Carnets are issued for three reasons. There’s exhibition use, taking commercial samples to show potential buyers or for professional equipment – camera crews taking equipment out to film documentaries for the BBC, for example."
"We do a lot of work for automotive companies when they are taking their vehicles out for cold and warm weather testing or we help jewellers taking briefcases of jewellery out to show potential buyers."
"Since Brexit we are now issuing 400 ATA Carnets a month as there is no longer freedom of movement and we are no longer in the customs union. If you want to take your goods into the EU, you need a Carnet."
"For those of you attending exhibitions in the EU this year and carrying articles to display and subsequently return to the UK you need to be aware that in a post-Brexit world some sort of customs formality will apply."
"Regardless of whether you are flying and carrying goods in the hold of the aircraft, driving via the Tunnel or ferry, or using a third party such as a freight forwarder your goods will need paperwork otherwise you run the risk of having your items impounded or having a fine applied."
"The simplest method to avoid this is the use of ATA Carnet, a document that acts as a passport for your goods and allows them to pass through customs without the need to pay import duties or leave large cash deposits."
Head of documents David and his team – business manager Jon Crosbie, senior documentation officer Sarah Barton and documentation officer James Paddock – can often find themselves coming to the aid of exporters stuck in tricky situations in foreign climes.
"You can be dealing with first-time exporters – since Brexit we have seen grown men in tears on the phone saying that they are with French or Spanish customs officers threatening to seize their goods. We have helped people from classic car enthusiasts to lawnmower racing teams right up to Formula One teams."
Over the years David and his team have helped smooth export transactions of tens of thousands of UK goods to some of the most far-flung countries on the planet, giving the stamp of approval to documents such as Certificates of Origin, Preference Documents and Arab-British Certificates of Origin as well as ATA Carnets.
The Chamber House export experts currently process around 18,000 Certificates of Origin, providing legal documentary proof where goods have been manufactured.
David added: "I’ve probably dealt with every country on earth, even if it was just a query or an email. The work can be very complex and in some ways the job has changed, in other ways it has not."
"When I started 25 years ago somebody would have walked in with documents waiting for them to be stamped. Documents would arrive by post – but the end product is still a piece of paper every time."
"The job is unpredictable – when you arrive in the morning you do not know what phone calls or emails you are going to get. But it is ultimately the same document stamped by a wet ink stamp."
David urged any firms or individuals with fears about their export and import needs to get in touch. "Our expert international team offer a range of services, including export and import documentation, overseas market information and contacts, interpreting and translation services and training in a variety of subjects."
Exporters with queries should contact David at 0121 274 3218 or at firstname.lastname@example.org