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Understanding and Using National Export System (NES)

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 24 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Export System International Trade

When you export goods from the UK, your business must account for any customs duty that may be payable on the consignments. International trade is closely tracked by HMRC (HM Customs & Excuse). In order to monitor the transport of goods overseas, electronic system have been developed that your business must become intimately familiar with. This is in your enterprises best interest as this detailed knowledge will mean your business always pays the right customs duty on all its international trade.

The export system you need to become most familiar with is called NES or National Export System. Remember that when you export goods this means you will transport your consignments to a country outside of the European Union (EU). This is called a Third Country.

NES itself operates as part of a larger electronic system called CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight). CHIEF tracks all of the UK’s transport of goods as they exit the country. As NES is so closely associated with CHIEF, you must gain authorisation to use the CHIEF system first before you can start to use NES to make your international export customs declarations.

NES, CAP and CPEI Systems

Your business should also be aware of how NES operates with the Customs Procedures with Economic Impact (CPEI). The idea behind the system is to allow importers to suspend any VAT or customs duty they would normally have to pay. Consult the HMRC for guidance as your business could benefit from suspending any payments it would normally have to make on trade that would usually attract VAT or duty. You should also be aware of how NES and CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) work together as your business could qualify for customs refunds under the scheme.

The HMRC website contains all the information you need to set-up the CHIEF system for your export business. You can obtain the NES application form (C&E 42) and return this to HMRC from their website. Once processed you will be given access to CHIEF and therefore can start to make declarations using NES. To save you time, if your business does not currently have a TURN (Trader’s Unique Reference Number) that is your business’s VAT number plus a three digit suffix, apply for a TURN before starting your application process to use the CHIEF and NES systems.

How to Use NES

Once your business is set up on the NES system you can start to make declarations in support of the exports your business will transport to its international customs. Remember these must be outside of the EU. If you use an agent to help with your NES declarations, they should provide your export trade with a customs reference number. This number can be either a Declaration Unique Consignment Reference (DUCR) or a Export Entry Reference (EPU, Entry Number and Date) and must appear on your NES declarations.

You can make a declaration using NES in three main ways:

Standard Full Pre-entry
Using this form of declaration, you or your agent can make a full submission to NES about the goods you want to export. This is done by completing the SAD (Single Administrative Document), which is also known as form C88 (Copy 2). Note that a new system is also being introduced that will impact on any international business you complete that involves and export to a Third Country. The new system is called Export Control System (ECS). Your export agent can help you as the new and old systems are still working together.

Simplified Declaration Procedure
Only authorised users are allowed to submit declarations using this method that is linked to the CHIEF platform. Using this system two customs declarations are made: The Pre-Shipment Advice otherwise known as the PSA that covers your consignments before export, and the a full Supplementary Declaration that is made within two weeks of you transporting your goods to their customers. Remember that you must quote the Unique Consignment Reference number on the PSA and Supplementary Declarations.

Local Clearance Procedure
Once again, only authorised users are allowed to make declarations using this system. A formal application to transport your goods must be made via the CHIEF system. Only after this is granted can you then export the goods from your premises. After your consignments have been moved to the port of export, you can transport them, but you must then make the usual Supplementary Declaration within the two week time limit.

NES and Ports of Exit

When your export goods are moved to the port from which you wish to transport them to their destination, the NES and CHIEF systems give the port authorities the information they need to confirm your business’s authorisation to trade. So your goods can clear customs efficiently it is vitally important to ensure your declarations on NES via CHIEF are accurate and complete to avoid costly delays. If you are using a port that is now currently linked to CHIEF you can still use them to export your consignments. You will, though, have to complete forms C1601, C130EX and C88 Copy 2.

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