Time is running out to apply for Customs Training Grants

HMRC has issued an update regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and the upcoming deadline for companies to apply for training grants that enable them to complete customs declarations and other key trade processes.

Though the grant scheme lasts until 31 May, the government is advising that companies register no later than Friday 24 May to allow time for their application to be completed.

You can read the full story on the Institute of Export website here.

HMRC extends deadline for customs training funding

The deadline for applications for a government initiative to help businesses prepare for EU Exit has been extended to 31 May 2019. This will enable more businesses to benefit from the investment available and provide more time for applications.

The funding will support customs intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations, and can be used to help businesses meet the costs of employee training and IT improvements.

For more details please see our original news item.

Do you need to update your drugs and alcohol policy?

Employers have many responsibilities to their staff, especially when it comes to keeping them safe in the workplace. Legislation dictates many of the practices which take place within the UK’s businesses, but there is a grey area when it comes to alcohol and drug testing, which means that many companies have an out of date policy or simply don’t have one at all. Meanwhile, statistics from the Home Office show that 11% of adults had taken drugs in 2017/18, so it’s an issue which has the potential to affect any company.

Here at Vartan we have experienced consultants who can provide advice and guidance on drug and alcohol policies. We can help you update your existing policy or provide you with a bespoke policy to suit your business.

Please contact us for further information.



Customs Clearance training funding – 5th April deadline

Don’t miss the boat here. In September 2018 HM Treasury and HMRC announced a one-off investment of £8 million to support broker training and increased automation to help customs intermediaries and traders who complete, or intend to complete customs declarations post-Brexit.

Applications will close on 5 April 2019, or earlier once all the funding is allocated.

You can find full details of the scheme on the BIFA website and the application process itself on GOV.UK

If your grant application is successful you can get up to 70% of training costs, up to a limit of £1,050 for each employee, if your business employs fewer than 50 people and has an annual turnover (or annual balance sheet total) of less than €10 million.

You can also get help on IT improvements where you might need to invest in equipment and/or software up to a figure of £170,000 (the maximum amount of state aid available).

VARTAN Consultancy can provide you with a One Day Course content programme and formal quote, where we can train up to 8 people at a time, at a cost of £1k per day, which concentrates on procedures for Customs entry and regimes including: Customs and the Customs tariff; the C88 and documentation; Duty/VAT calculation and payment; Customs regimes and controls; entry completion; Customs procedures and reporting. The training includes interactive exercises which will include tariff classification and interpretation of C88s and E2s.

Trailer registration is now in force

If you’re using a trailer abroad after 28 March 2019, you will need to register it through DVLAs Register your trailer to take it abroad service.

The trailer registration scheme comes into force on 28 March 2019 as a result of the UK ratifying the UN 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Trailers in the mandatory categories must be registered when used internationally in countries that have ratified the convention.

Registration is mandatory for all commercial use trailers travelling internationally with a gross weight of over 750kg. Registration is also mandatory for non-commercial use trailers that travel internationally and have a gross weight over 3,500kg.

Non-commercial trailers that weigh less than 3,500kg can be registered voluntarily but there is no legal requirement.

Check DVLA’s guidance to see whether you need to register your trailer.

Once a trailer is registered through the new service, DVLA will issue a secure trailer registration certificate by post and send email confirmation which includes authorisation to get a number plate made up for the trailer. The number plate must be displayed on the trailer and the registration certificate must be available to present to a foreign authority upon request.

Irrespective of registration, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal some EU and EEA countries may also require a separate Green Card as proof of insurance for your trailer. If you are travelling with a trailer, you will need to contact your insurance provider to get two Green Cards; one for the towing vehicle, and one for the trailer. This does not mean that you will need to purchase separate insurance.

Platform Lifts safety alert

HSE have recently issued a new safety alert about Platform Lifts (also known as Vertical Lifting Platforms) and the risks of falls from height to employees or members of the public.

HSE is aware of a number of incidents involving tampering with safety devices or inappropriate maintenance of door switches or unlocking zone bypass switches during maintenance. Combined with deterioration of the doors and their hinges, landing doors have opened when the platform/lift car is not at that landing. This resulted in people potentially accessing the lift well when the lifting platform was not at the same floor level/landing. This has resulted in members of the public or workers falling down the open lift well or becoming trapped beneath a descending platform.

The safety alert looks to highlight potential dangers from:

  • Inadequate maintenance of door components
  • Inappropriate adjustment of door locks
  • Interference with zone bypass switches at doors
  • Unauthorised access to lift well (shaft) when the lifting platform (lift car) is at a different level
  • The risks from tampering with safety critical components (safety devices)and inappropriate or poor maintenance of such components/safety devices
  • Safety devices are designed to prevent doors from opening unless the platform lift is at a landing
  • Tampering with safety devices may allow the doors to open when the platform/lift car is not at the landing. This could result in a significant risk to the users of falling from height or being crushed.

HSE has also identified a number of issues as a result of wear or inappropriate maintenance:

  • Bent door lock switch contacts – The contacts on door lock switches have been bent to increase the switch contact force; however, this can prematurely signal to the control system that the door is locked, allowing operation of the lift platform when the locking pin is only partially engaged with the latch plate
  • Shortened door lock pins which do not provide adequate engagement with the door lock plate, allowing the door to be opened
  • Incorrect adjustment of Bowden cables
  • Missing screws securing door locks and latch plates
  • Poor adjustment of unlocking zone bypass mechanisms, meaning that the switch remains permanently activated, allowing the platform to travel between floors with the landing doors open
  • Damage to doors and door frames resulting in poor door alignment.

Actions required:

  • Lift maintenance companies should ensure maintenance activities are undertaken by competent personnel; in line with the manufacturer’s instructions and/or guidance; and in accordance with a safe system of work. Maintenance of the safety elements of the lift must not affect its safe operation. Modifications intended to keep a lift operating but which may result in unsafe operation must not be carried out under any circumstances
  • Review maintenance and inspection procedures to ensure that these tasks are carried out by persons competent to do so
  • Introduce simple tests into daily checks for the lifts to confirm that landing doors cannot be opened when the platform is not at the same level, and the platform cannot travel without the doors closed and locked. These checks should be carried out by a person who is competent to do so.

Trouw Nutrition awarded full AEO status

Project Managed by Vartan, nutritional products and services provider Trouw Nutrition GB have been awarded Authorised Economic Operator – FULL (or AEOF) accreditation, thereby reducing their customs and supply chain risk. This means a major part of the operating company’s strategy has been put in place to reduce the negative effects that a Hard Brexit might cause.

Trouw Nutrition GB’s Rod Prince said, “We started to prepare for this 9 months ago using Vartan as our consultants from the outset.  Without their expertise, knowledge and support throughout this period and especially during the very lengthy and demanding HMRC audits we would not have achieved this success.  I unreservedly recommend Vartan to any company considering applying for the AEO accreditation.  They have shown themselves to be valuable, reliable partners.  We intend to keep the links we have made with them through an on-going maintenance contract.”