I am advised by Revenue that customs declarations can be made directly by businesses who have in-house customs software and an appropriate level of customs knowledge or by customs agents acting on behalf of businesses. Revenue has indicated to me that most businesses use customs agents with typically only large businesses having in-house customs arrangements to complete their customs formalities.
I am advised by Revenue that based on an analysis of businesses who submitted customs declarations to date in 2019 there are currently 10,542 businesses who are trading with non-EU countries. These businesses have the facility, either in-house or through customs agents, to complete customs formalities.
Revenue has advised that it is not possible to state the percentage of businesses that will have the facility to make customs declarations or have plans in place for a customs agent to make these declarations, post Brexit. This is a commercial decision for each business and not a decision in which Revenue has any involvement.
Earlier this year, industry raised concerns regarding the level of customs agent capacity in the market. As a result, the Deputy will be aware that the Government’s Clear Customs initiative was launched by Skillnet Ireland on 7 August. This is a new support measure to help customs agents, intermediaries and affected Irish businesses to develop the capacity to deal with the completion of customs formalities post Brexit. There are two components to the support – a training element, and a grant element to support businesses taking on new staff or training existing staff to carry out customs work.
I understand that over 1,000 applications from businesses have been received for the Clear Customs initiative to date. The training element is ongoing and is being provided by Skillnet Ireland in partnership with industry bodies from the freight, transport and logistics sector. 660 people have either completed the training course or are scheduled to participate on the course in the coming weeks. To date over 150 grants have been approved under the scheme by Enterprise Ireland. The Clear Customs initiative is making an important contribution to the preparedness arrangements of businesses by enabling them to build the necessary capacity to complete customs formalities post Brexit.
I strongly urge all businesses that intend to trade with the UK post Brexit to ensure that they have the capability to complete customs formalities, by either putting in place the appropriate arrangements in-house or engaging a customs agent.