How the British Chambers of Commerce Help UK Businesses Through ChamberCustoms Initiative

ChamberCustoms, a customs advisory, training, and brokerage service that is fast, accurate, and compliant with HMRC regulations. The service, delivered by British Chambers of Commerce, assists UK businesses in navigating the complexities of cross-border trade and customs declarations in the post-Brexit era.

How the British Chambers of Commerce Help UK Businesses Through ChamberCustoms Initiative
How the British Chambers of Commerce Help UK Businesses Through ChamberCustoms Initiative

Customs services play a critical role in facilitating international trade and ensuring the smooth flow of goods across national borders. They are an essential component of a country’s trade policy and regulatory framework, serving various purposes that are crucial for the functioning of modern economies.

ChamberCustoms is a unique initiative that was conceived in 2017 in response to the UK’s decision to leave the EU single market and customs union. It is the customs advisory, training and brokerage service delivered through British Chambers of Commerce across the UK. With three years of investment in business planning, system development, and training courses, ChamberCustoms is now delivering a range of customs services to over 2,000 traders across the UK, helping them navigate the complexities of customs declarations, training, and advisory services.

With customs agents based across 43 locations in the UK and in every nation, ChamberCustoms has over 100 highly trained customs clearance agents serving customers of all sizes. In the past year, ChamberCustoms has helped its customers import a wide range of products worth over £2 billion, including raw materials, machined components, pharmaceuticals, fresh produce, plants, agricultural seeds and fertilisers, clothing, electronics, and metals. In addition to imports, ChamberCustoms has also facilitated significant exports in support of household brands across various sectors, including manufacturing, automotive, and food and drink.

Direct access to port inventory systems

With the increasing volume of cross-border trade, customs departments are face challenges to process declarations quickly and accurately, while also maintaining compliance with various regulatory frameworks. One factor that significantly improves the efficiency of customs clearance is its direct access to port inventory systems. This access enables customs departments to obtain real-time data on the movement of goods and provides greater visibility and control over the entire supply chain.

One of the key factors that sets ChamberCustoms apart is its direct access to all port inventory systems in the UK, whether goods arrive or depart by air, sea, road, or rail. This means that ChamberCustoms never subcontracts its client work to other operators at the port and always acts as direct representatives of its clients, maintaining compliance with the UK trade tariff and border systems. This direct connection to port inventory systems has enabled ChamberCustoms to achieve a net promoter score of 68 in its latest research study, with customers describing the service as fast, accurate, and compliant with HMRC (His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) regulations.

The digital approach for a wider reach

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected global trade environment, the need for customs departments to become digital is more critical than ever. Traditional paper-based and manual customs processes are cumbersome, time-consuming, and prone to errors, leading to delays, increased costs, and compliance risks. In contrast, digitization offers significant benefits, including improved efficiency, accuracy, transparency, and compliance.

A notable aspect of ChamberCustoms’ approach is its “digital first” strategy, which aims to put the filing of a customs declaration to HMRC in the hands of its customers. The Exabler platform, launched in Q4 of 2022, is at the heart of this digital-first approach. With customer enterprise solutions already holding up to 80% of the data needed, the Exabler platform has the potential to reduce errors, improve efficiency, and increase visibility for clients, particularly high-volume customers, thus driving volume growth in the coming year.

ChamberCustoms: A strategic partner for UK businesses

While customs clearance remains the main source of income for ChamberCustoms, the initiative has also continued to support clients with training and advisory services. Advisory services focus on helping clients understand the impact of new customs rules that have been in place since January 2021 and assisting them in designing business processes to their advantage. ChamberCustoms has a small team of in-house, network, and external consultants delivering this work on its behalf. Income from training slowed down as planned during the past year, as ChamberCustoms shifted its focus to customs agency in anticipation of the changes ahead with HMRC switching off the CHIEF system and launching their new Customs Declarations Service (CDS). ChamberCustoms has invested in developing new courses for customs agents and traders on these changes, including external accreditation for its new agent course set to launch in 2022/23.

Looking ahead, ChamberCustoms sees ample scope for growth as it aims to become a sustainable and profitable business, aligned with the strategic goals of the British Chambers of Commerce. With its unique offering, including direct access to port inventory systems, a digital-first approach, and a dedicated team of customs clearance agents and consultants, ChamberCustoms is well-positioned to continue assisting UK businesses in navigating the complexities of cross-border trade and customs declarations in the post-Brexit era.