Customs asking shippers to pay more guarantees

ESC together with the other associations, such as CLECAT and IRU, has asked the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union to reduce the administrative and financial burden related to the guarantees against customs debts.  

According to the Union Customs Code, an economic operator (a shipper) should provide a guarantee if there is a risk of a customs debt for the goods that this operator is transporting or processing; or, if the shipper does not have a secured warehouse. A “customs debt” means the obligation of a person to pay the amount of import or export duty which applies to specific goods under the customs legislation in force. Thus, if the goods get stolen from a warehouse or during transportation, and a debt occurs, customs authorities can recover the debt from the guarantee. This can be done even if the company is not solvent anymore.

This rule also applies to the companies that have a status of the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO). In this case, customs authorities have already a good view on the risks in solvency and compliance of these company. By asking for an additional guarantee from the reliable companies, customs are getting a double safety net which is a comfortable situation for customs but is a difficult situation for the operator (shipper).

Under the previous customs legislation, the guarantee was already applied and considered disproportionate. But under the present legislation (Union Customs Code) this is even more the case. The mitigation of a guarantee is accepted less frequently and more cases are subject to the guarantee deposit.  The companies providing the guarantee deposit or a guarantee from a bank, cannot use this money for internal investments, and the guarantee becomes “dead money.”

For this reason, ESC has co-signed a letter with other Associations such as CLECAT and IRU, to reduce the number of cases and the amount of the guarantee. Hopefully DG TAXUD will respond positively to this request.