Traders need certainty and clarity when they import goods, and sometimes it is better to seek the opinion of the customs authorities rather than attempt to classify goods themselves, or even rely on their broker to classify the goods. In more complex circumstances, or in situations where the potential duty liability is particularly high, even a broker will recommend obtaining the opinion of Customs.
In EU countries including the UK, Binding Tariff Information (BTI) is the best way to obtain such an opinion, and it may be applied to any of the customs procedures:
- Release for free circulation,
- Special procedures, or
As the name suggests, it is binding, which means that the decision is a formal one which must be observed by the customs authorities of all member states, as well as the holder of the BTI, and is valid throughout the EU. In this sense, it acts as an insurance policy for the trader - it guarantees that there will be no nasty surprises when the goods are imported.
Some important aspects of BTI include:
- The applicant must have an EORI number
- The decision is legally binding on the holder of the BTI
- The BTI must be declared in the customs declaration
- The BTI decision is legally binding on all EU Member States
- It has legal validity throughout the EU, regardless of which Member State issued the BTI
- It is valid for three years
- All BTI decisions are included on the EBTI (European Binding Tariff Information database)
- Those decisions that do not contain confidential information are included on the public version of the public version of the EBTI (access to the full database is not available to members of the private sector).