Avoid the risks involved with customs compliance

Tue 11 Apr 2017
Posted by: IOE&IT News

man holding a sign saying what are yur obligations


The Institute’s 2017 Export Optimism survey showed that international trade is high on the agenda for British businesses, with 54% of firms crediting it as their single biggest opportunity for the year ahead.

However, the report also uncovered that 70% of the same firms currently have no plans in place to avoid the risks associated with customs compliance.

A figure that sets alarm bells ringing, especially when you consider the complex forms, costly fines, delayed shipments, or risk of company blacklisting at customs. 

So, we asked corporate member and expert in export procedures, XDS Solutions to spell out the pitfalls and set out its advice as a jargon-free FAQ guide:

Chantelle Rowe, Director at XDS Solutions says: “The importance of businesses effectively managing customs compliance risk is a critical part of safeguarding the supply chain.  Those new to export must consider that Certificate of Conformity programmes and Country of Origin requirements are mandatory, and that it is the exporter, not importer who is responsible. 

Businesses who begin shipping to new international markets without the required export documents in place will quickly come unstuck.   Failure to clear customs will result in delayed shipments, and frequently businesses will face costly fines and repeat offenders will suffer blacklisting.”


XDS Export Document FAQs

Customs compliance can seem like a maze, so XDS has put together a list of frequently asked questions to help businesses avoid the risks:


What is a Certificate of Conformity?

Several countries in Africa and the Middle East have introduced a customs clearance programme known as the Certificate of Conformity Programme or the Certificate of Assessment Programme.  This means that consignments / shipments cannot be cleared through customs without the Certificate of Conformity issued by an approved / accredited body.


Which countries require a Certificate of Conformity?

Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Syria, Kuwait, Iraq, Kurdistan, Qatar and Lebanon.

Africa: Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria, Libya, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Botswana.

Which products / commodities require a Certificate of Conformity?

Each country has a detailed list of products that require a Certificate of Conformity. However, this list is constantly evolving and changing.  To find out if your products / commodities are currently included please contact XDS and we can update you.


Are Certificates of Conformity required for both Air Freight and Sea Freight?

Yes, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Kurdistan, Qatar and Lebanon.  Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Algeria and Botswana have the same Certificate of Conformity programme across all ports.


What happens if I don’t get a Certificate of Conformity before shipping my consignment?

A lot depends on the country of import but in most cases, the importer will either receive a warning, have to wait for customs officials to carry out a very costly inspection in the importing country, or the consignment is rejected and has to return to the exporting country. Both the exporter and importer’s details are held on record.  If this happens repeatedly then the export business is at risk of customs blacklisting.


How can I apply for the Certificate of Conformity?

At XDS Solutions we work with approved and accredited inspection agencies and can apply for the Certificate of Conformity for you. All you have to do is contact one of our team of experts to discuss the requirements for your import country, send us the documentation and we do the rest.


What documents do I need to send to apply for the Certificate of Conformity?

In most cases you will be required to provide a commercial invoice, packing slip and test reports. However, this does depending on the country you are exporting to, our technical experts will provide up to date information.

What if I don’t have the relevant test reports required?

We appreciate that not all companies or products are the same. We work with your company in order to tailor the most cost effective and efficient solution.  If you do not manufacturer the product you plan to export, then we can also help you to organise receipt of testing reports from your suppliers.


How do I organise testing?

XDS Solutions specialist partner laboratories test a wide range of products, including:

    Medical & Therapeutic                                                                              

    Scientific & Laboratory


    Household Appliances

    Industrial Equipment & Machinery

    Information Technology & Audio Visual

    Security, Fire & Smoke

    Electrical Fittings & Surge Protection

    Mobility Aids & Assistive Technologies

    Road & Rail

    Energy & Environmental


If your product falls outside of this list, we will help identify suitable specialist laboratories who can provide the service you require.

What are the fees for the Certificate of Conformity?

This varies on the country of import, to get a quote, please contact XDS >>

How long does it take to get a Certificate of Conformity?

Again, it depends on the importing country. In most cases 2-3 days if an inspection is not required and 5-8 working days, if an inspection is. Our expert knowledge and world-wide contacts enable us, on most occasions, to turn this around quicker than anyone else.


Can I also apply for my Country of Origin Documents through you?

XDS Solutions offers a packaged service for all Country of Origin requirements.  Including:


EC Certificate of Origin


Arab Country of Origin

EC Arab Country of Origin

We can also assist with certifying and legalising Invoices.


If a 3rd party inspection is required what should I do?

XDS Solutions has a global team of inspectors, your eyes anywhere in the world.


Next Steps:

Exporters who are concerned about the complexities of international compliance can boost their knowledge base by enrolling staff on the Institute’s Diploma in World Customs Compliance. The pioneering 18 month to two-year online course offers part-time blended learning, with modular assessments, and leads to a full customs qualification at level 5 diploma level.


About XDS Solutions

Chelmsford-based XDS Solutions was launched in 2013 to offer export managers a fast and simple way to manage customs clearance. With more than 12 years’ experience in export compliance, its founders knew well the frustration felt at being unable to find a straightforward route. Instead of slow, complex, web-based conformity assessment programmes which fail to take into account unique business requirements, an XDS expert advisor personally manages every step of each client’s export compliance journey.

To discuss your firm’s export procedures, including streamlined SASO & SONCAP customs clearance documentation, visit XDS-solutions.com.