Government customs grants issued “on a first come, first served basis” – firms urged to apply fast

Wed 29 Jul 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The government is urging firms that need support to make customs declarations to apply for its £50m fund as soon as possible.

“Grants will be issued on a first come, first served basis,” HMRC said in a statement this morning (Wednesday 29 July).

Declarations deadline

Applications will close on 30 June 2021 – the day before GB firms moving goods to and from the EU must begin to make declarations.

However, HMRC says it will close the scheme earlier if all funding is allocated.

‘Courses fully funded’

At a HMRC meeting this afternoon, the IOE&IT confirmed that employees are eligible to have several courses – such as those offered by the Institute and UK Customs Academy – funded by the grant.

“This is very welcome news,” said Sam Pileggi, commercial director of the IOE&IT who manages the UK Customs Academy, “as it means students can do IOE&IT one-day courses or progress to the Customs Academy’s Level 4, with their course costs fully funded”.


The IOE&IT also confirmed that firms throughout the UK, including those in Northern Ireland, are eligible for the grant.

The criteria for the grant scheme, which will be administered by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of HMRC, were issued this morning.

The grant can cover:

  • Training to help firms – be they traders or intermediaries – to complete customs declarations. The grant covers up to 100% of the cost of externally-provided training, up to a limit of £1,500 for each employee on a course such as those provided by the IOE&IT and UK Customs Academy

    It also covers the cost of internal training, up to a limit of £250 for each employee on the course

  • Hiring of new staff to complete customs declarations. Salary costs for new (or redeployed) staff, up to a limit of £12,000 per person, with £3000 for recruitment costs for new employees

  • IT improvements to help complete customs declarations more efficiently; there are grants for customs software and set-up costs, and related hardware. The grant covers 100% of costs relating to IT expenditure to help make customs declarations.

HMRC advised that grants per firm are capped at €200,000 – the maximum amount of state aid available.

In its statement today (July 29), HMRC said that up until now, it had provided £34m in grants to support firms grappling with changes to overseas trade rules because of Brexit.

The money had gone towards more than 20,000 training courses, nearly 15,000 units of IT and the recruitment of almost 600 new customs agents, HMRC said.