From 1 September 2015 HMRC’s classification will shift from a telephone based system to an e-mail based system. Full details of the change can be found in CIP 27(2015). In essence, a separate e-mail must be submitted for each product with prescribed supporting information, including:
- Company name;
- Contact name and details;
- Description of the goods, including what the product is, what it is made of, what it is used for, how it functions and how it is presented or packaged;
- The commodity code envisaged.
More detailed information will be required for some products including footwear, food, chemicals, textiles and vehicles.
In our view:
- All the information requested is necessary to determine the classification of an item and it is what we would ask a client for if asked to review this matter and so the information requirements look fair.
- A weakness of the current system has always been lack of contemporaneous evidence should the classification be latter challenged by HMRC. We understand the classification decision will still not be binding on customs (or business). Businesses will still need to apply for BTI for binding rulings. However, it will be interesting to see what approach HMRC will take when disagreeing with the e-mail decision made.
- The BTI application struggles to cope with attachments to the online application. This service looks to side step this particular annoyance by using ordinary e-mail rather than the tortuous online form.
- We trust the classification officer will call the contact if he/she had any questions as sometimes a discussion can save a significant amount of correspondence. Why else ask for a contact and contact details.
Our advice is that clients contact us in cases of classification uncertainties that have a material impact on your business. We can work with you to review the classification options, ensuring full disclosure of the relevant facts and drafting supporting arguments in support of a BTI application in these instances.