Identify goods for export correctly or risk fines

Posted: Sunday 27th November

Businesses risk heavy fines or the confiscation of their consignments if goods which they are importing or exporting are not correctly identified, a shipping expert has warned.

Nicole Howarth, managing director of award-winning Global Freight, said identification numbers attached to different types of goods, called commodity codes, can change at any time under the Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom.

Mrs Howarth said: “Importing and exporting are covered by European Community regulations so all European Union countries have the same commodity codes, duty rates and procedures, under the Tariff.

“We have recently been approached by businesses which have experienced problems with identifying which codes are correct for their goods and one company, not a customer of Global Freight, contacted us after being fined by the VAT office for using incorrect commodity codes for importing goods.

“Although it is the responsibility of the company importing or exporting to ensure the codes are correct, a good freight company will work with businesses to ensure the documentation is correct.

“The codes can and do change at any time without notification, and we are advising both our own customers and other companies to check theirs just in case. By selecting the right code and paying correct duties, you will avoid interest on outstanding amounts because of underpayment or your goods being seized or delayed by customs.”

Mrs Howarth said manufactured goods can be classified according to purposes, types and their constituent parts. Chemicals and pharmaceuticals follow a similar set of guidelines for commodity coding and require an accurate analysis of their composition.

“The system of commodity codes are used across the European Union. Classifying your goods can be a complex process that moves through a number of steps. As the importer or exporter you’re legally responsible for the correct commodity code being applied to your goods,” she added.

Midlands-based Global Freight works with a range of businesses importing and exporting goods, from household names to county SMEs. The company, based in Telford, is expert in import, export and cross trade delivery and contracting by air, sea or road, as well a packaging for UK forwarding.

If your company would like more information on trading overseas or would like advice on how Global Freight can assist with your logistics effort, please contact 01952 270699 or email

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