Importers may wish to consider appointing a person to make customs declarations on their behalf (an agent).
If you are required to submit a customs declaration you may wish to consider appointing a person to make customs declarations on your behalf (a customs agent). Whilst there is no mandatory requirement for anyone to use a customs agent, they can help find the information needed to complete and submit customs declarations and are often familiar with customs procedures. What they can do for you, and who will be liable, depends on:
- the services they provide;
- what you want them to do;
- the commercial agreement you have with them.
It should be noted that there is currently no requirement for a customs agent to be licenced to provide these services in the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
Section 13A of the Customs and Excise (General Provisions) Bailiwick of Guernsey Law, 1972 ("the Customs Law") and Regulation 25 of the Customs and Excise (Customs Export Declarations) Regulations, 2020 provide that a person may appoint any other person to act on their behalf for the purposes of making a customs declaration in respect of import duty or an export declaration. Section 74 of the Customs Law is relevant in all other cases where a person has appointed another person to undertake a customs transaction on their behalf. Normally, a customs agent will need to be established in the Bailiwick in order to undertake customs functions.
A customs agent can act for you in one of two ways; as a direct agent or as an indirect agent.
A customs agent acting for you as a direct agent will act in your name and on behalf of you. You'll still be solely liable for:
- keeping records;
- the accuracy of any information provided on your customs declarations;
- any Customs Duty due.
You are still considered as the declarant in this scenario and are obliged to meet all the customs obligations arising from the customs transaction, including paying any import duty that may be liable. However, if you give clear instructions and they make a deliberate or unreasonable error, they may become jointly and severally liable.
A customs agent acting for you as an indirect agent will act in their own name. In this scenario they will be:
- equally responsible for making sure the information is accurate;
- jointly and severally liable for any Customs Duty.
In some cases, only persons established in the Bailiwick can undertake customs formalities. In these circumstances, if you're not established in the Bailiwick and need to make a declaration to Guernsey customs then you will have to ask someone to act indirectly on your behalf.
In order to establish legal responsibilities and liabilities, the Guernsey Border Agency may ask for evidence to confirm the appointment of your customs agent. If you are asking someone to make customs declarations on your behalf you should ensure that the terms and conditions of your representation are confirmed in writing and a copy of this agreement is kept for your own records. The instruction should show whether they're acting for you directly or indirectly.
A list of Guernsey based business that may be able to make customs declarations on the importers behalf can be found below: