Frequently Asked Questions

EU exit

What about if we get a deal? Will this funding continue? Will we have to pay back the money?

This one-off investment to support the customs intermediaries sector and help them expand their capacity as we prepare to leave the EU.

This investment will be beneficial under most future customs models and will help improve the quality of training available, increase capacity and encourage investment in automation in the sector. If a deal is reached, funding which has already been committed will not need to be paid back, and we will continue to invest the £16 million as planned to build customs capacity in the UK.


Eligible businesses

I’m not a customs intermediary, but my business imports and/or exports to the EU. Can I apply for a grant?

Training grant: Yes. If your business is based in, or has a branch in the UK, is in good standing with HMRC and is currently importing and/or exporting to the EU then you can apply for funding for up to 100% of the cost of training yourself or your staff to complete customs declarations and handle other customs procedures.

IT grant: Only if the business is involved in trade as an intermediary that supports other businesses to complete customs declarations and processes, or, wishes to begin performing this function for its customers and you meet the other eligibility criteria.

I’m a self-employed UK trader who exports to the EU. Can I apply for a grant?

Training grant: Yes. If you are currently importing and/or exporting then you can apply for funding for up to 100% of the cost of training to complete customs declarations.

IT grant: Only if the trade with the EU is as a customs intermediary, or you are a business that wishes to begin performing the function of completing customs declarations and processes for its customers.

I’m not currently a customs intermediary but I’d like to invest in IT improvements. Can I apply for a grant?

No, unless you are a business that wishes to begin performing the function for its customers (e.g. a haulier who wishes to offer a customs agent to its customers in relation to goods moved between the UK and EU) and you meet the other eligibility criteria.

Are these grants available to businesses based in Northern Ireland?

Yes. Both the IT improvements grant and the training grant are available to businesses which are based in, or have a branch anywhere in the UK if you meet the relevant criteria outlined above.


Eligible costs

What type of training will the grant fund?

The grant will cover training that provides you or your employees with skills to complete customs declarations or other declarations required to complete customs processes (such as safety and security declarations) and carry out the technical processes of customs procedures.

The training does not have to lead to a formal qualification. It cannot be used towards the existing cost of current training or for other unrelated training.

The training itself should either be delivery of a commercially procured training course, or alternatively a defined formal internal training course such as a trainer led session away from the desk or a programme of relevant eLearning. Ad hoc or informal ‘on the job’ training is not covered by the scheme.

I didn’t receive 100% of training costs in Wave 1. Given the changes in Wave 2, can I now apply to receive the outstanding amount?

No. Training costs in Wave 1 were distributed on a scale basis depending on the size of the organisation. This scale has been removed for Wave 2. No retrospective rebate action is available.

What type of IT improvements will the grant fund?

The IT improvements grant must be used to acquire packaged software that increases the automation and productivity of completing customs declarations and will cover the first year license. The funding can also be used to buy hardware needed to run the software, installation, configuration and related software training.

It cannot be used to commission bespoke software or unrelated networking costs. Costs relating purely to IT expenditure to facilitate the transition from interfacing with the CHIEF system (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) to the new CDS (Customs Declaration Service) system are also specifically excluded.

Will I definitely receive 100% of grant funding?

No. Please note for both grants the amount of funding is dependent on you confirming the grant would not put your business over the de-minimis state aid threshold of €200,000 over the last 3 years. De-minimis aid is defined in the EU Commissions Regulation No 1407/2013.

If my business is below the VAT registration threshold and I do not have a VAT registration number; will I be paid inclusive of VAT?

Yes. As per gov.uk guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-thresholds-remain-unchanged/vat-maintain-thresholds-for-2-years-from-1-april-2020) the VAT registration threshold is £85,000 turnover. Organisations under this threshold are not required to have a VAT registration number. In this situation, we will pay your grant inclusive of VAT. VAT registered businesses will be paid exclusive of VAT.

I want to enter into an annual or multi-year contract. However, I will be unable to submit evidence of payment within two months of receiving my grant offer. Will I still be able to receive payment as per my grant offer?

Sorry, only payments evidenced within two calendar months of the grant offer being issues will be honoured by the scheme. Grant holders should discuss with suppliers whether they can accept payment for annualised costs in advance. Please note only first year costs are eligible.


Application process

Can I apply for both grants?

Yes, if you are a customs intermediary you can apply for both the training and the IT improvements grants, provided you meet the eligibility criteria for each grant. All claims are subject to the requirement that the applicant can confirm this would not increase the amount of de-minimis state aid they have received in the last 3 years, to an amount which is in excess of €200,000. De-minimis aid is defined in the EU Commissions Regulation No 1407/2013.

Can I apply more than once?

Yes. For both the training and IT grants, funding will be dependent on availability and your confirmation that the (additional) grant would not put your business over the de-minimis state aid threshold of €200,000 over the last 3 years.

Can I claim funding for Training which I have completed previously, or IT equipment already purchased?

We are only able to consider eligible costs incurred on or after 31 July 2019, when the new investment was announced. Claims for costs incurred prior to this date cannot be considered.

I incurred my expenditure on or after 31st July 2019 but before applying. Do I have to go through the same process?

All grant applications should be made PRIOR to expenditure being incurred. However, in the case of expenditure incurred on or after 31 July 2019 and before the launch of Wave 2 (3 September) an exception will be made.

In this circumstance, please provide your invoice and payment evidence at application stage. A quote is not necessary. Your application will be subject to the same eligibility and due diligence checks. If you are successful you will be awarded a Grant Offer and asked to provide your bank details so that your payment can be processed as soon as possible.

When is the deadline and how do I apply?

Wave 2 of the grant program will close on 31 January 2020, or earlier once all the funding is allocated. You can find details of how to apply online at customsintermediarygrant.co.uk. If you prefer to apply offline an application form can be downloaded from customsintermediarygrant.co.uk and submitted by email or post. Further details are available on the website. A Welsh language form is also available on the site.

When will I know if my application has been successful?

All applications will go through a review process to check eligibility and complete due diligence checks. Processing times will vary depending on demand but we expect you to be informed within two to three weeks from the date of a completed application.

What happens if my application is rejected?

You will be advised if your application is incomplete or we require further information. You will have the opportunity to submit any additional information online. You are encouraged to carefully review the requirements and submit all the required information at the point of application as this will greatly speed up the processing of your application and increase your likelihood of receiving a grant offer (as the scheme will close for applications once fully committed). Incomplete applications will be rejected in this scenario.

If your application is rejected, you can appeal the decision if any of the following grounds for appeal have been met;

  • You believe the rejection is unfair or discriminatory
  • There are special merits to this case which should be taken into account
  • We have failed to follow the process published in our Terms and Conditions and Application Pack documents.

Please note the appeals process will be open for 1 calendar month from the date of rejection

When will I receive the funding?

The grants will be paid following receipt of your claim form with proof of payment and supporting invoice for either training or IT improvements depending on the grant you were offered. The grant will be paid to you within 30 days of your valid claim for reimbursement being accepted. It’ll be paid by BACS to a UK bank account in the name of the business who applied.

As the final date for submission of evidence is 31 January 2020, all payments will be made on or before 30 April 2020.

How will I receive the funding?

Payment will be made by BACs transfer to a UK bank account in the name of the applicant business.

How will you use the information I give you?

In line with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) PwC is strongly committed to protecting individuals’ personal information, including personal data that we hold or process about our clients, employees, vendors or other stakeholders. We protect your personal information by only collecting applicant data that is essential for deciding on the allocation of funding, erasing data that is not relevant in the application process, and limiting the data that we share. Relevant information will be shared with HMRC.


Transition - Wave 1 to Wave 2

Why is there a Wave 2 of the grant programme?

Wave 2 was made possible by new funding announced by the Chancellor on 31 July 2019 to double the support made available for customs agents. Wave 2 of the grant programme was launched on 3 September 2019 and will close on 31 January 2020, or earlier once all the funding is allocated.

What’s the difference between Wave 1 and Wave 2 of the grant programme?

Wave 2 has the same aim as the previous wave, to increase customs agents’ capacity so that more businesses can get the support they need to complete customs declaration. Key Wave 2 changes include:

  1. Scaling in relation to the amount of training grant you received based on organisation size has been removed, with all eligible businesses able to apply for 100% funding. Training caps have also been changed:

a. For externally delivered training, the cap per trainee per training course is £2,250. Should eligible training costs exceed that amount, grant support will be limited to £2,250 per trainee per training course.

b. For internally delivered training, the cap per trainee per training course is £250. Should eligible training costs exceed that amount, grant support will be limited to £250 per trainee per training course.

  1. The training grant can now support training for other declarations required to complete customs processes in the UK or the EU such as safety and security declarations.
  2. The IT grant eligibility criteria has been widened to include businesses that wishes to begin performing the function (complete customs declarations and processes) for its customers (e.g. a haulier who wishes to offer a customs agent to its customers in relation to goods moved between the UK and EU).
  3. Non-VAT registered applicants will now be paid in full.
  4. Applicants must submit evidence of payment within 2 calendar months of the grant offer being issues.

Can I apply for the Wave 2 grant scheme, if I applied in Wave 1?

Yes, you are eligible to apply for funding in Wave 2. However, your previous application (Wave 1) will be taken into account when reviewing your Wave 2 application. You will need to confirm the grant would not put your business over the de-minimis state aid threshold of €200,000 over the last 3 years. De-minimis aid is defined in the EU Commissions Regulation No 1407/2013.

I applied for a grant in Wave 1 but didn’t submit sufficient evidence within the time frame. Will my application transition into Wave 2?

No. The Wave 1 grant window has now closed and all applicants who remained within the grant process have been informed of this. You will have to submit a new application during the Wave 2 window. Please note expenditure made before 31 July 2019 will not be eligible for Wave 2.

I spent money in July 2019 which I believe is a grant eligible cost. Am I able to claim for this expenditure?

Qualifying expenditure must have been made on or after 31 July 2019 to be considered eligible for Wave 2 of the grant program. This is the case for both the training and IT grants.


Application support

I need help with my application. Who can I contact?

Please contact the grant administrators at the following e-mail address referencing your application number in the email header.

E-mail: customsintermediarygrant@uk.pwc.com

Helpline: The helpline will be available between (9.30am-4pm, Monday-Friday). The helpline will operate a call back system outside these hours; please leave a message and we will contact you during the operational hours outlined above.

The helpline number is: +44(0)28 9041 5471

My login doesn’t work. What can I do?

Please reset your password as per instructions on the customs intermediary grant websites login page.

I’m having problems with the system.

Our customs intermediary grant website works best on the Google Chrome operating system. Please check you are using Chrome. If your problem persists, please contact us using the dedicated email address or helpline number. Please reference your application number in the email header.