Over the last few years it has become much easier for people to access the goods available to them overseas. With the likes of Alibaba and Made In China.Com pretty much anyone can source what they need and import it.
This is great. It means more business for the suppliers, more opportunities for the buyers, more products for consumers and more customers for me.
But there is a downside.
It also means that more and more inexperienced people are trying to import products but they are making mistakes.
If you’ve ever had dealings with HM Customs & Excise you’ll know that they’re not fun to play ball with. They’re strict, serious and a little bit unreasonable too. If you don’t meet their regulations, then you don’t get your goods into the country. Period. No ifs, no buts and no negotiations.
There are many rules and regulations on importing, and the average Joe Bloggs just doesn’t understand them well enough to be able to navigate the red tape HMRC places before them.
When it comes to importing, a simple oversight can cost you a lot of time and money.
Like in the case of the noodle sauce.
About six months ago we came across a guy who had tried to import some noodle sauce. He’d been on a trip to China, fallen in love with it and decided to sell it wholesale to restaurants here in the UK.
He’d found a supplier, arranged sea freight and made payment of $5000 for several pallets of sauce. The supplier had shipped the produce and it had arrived safely in the UK.
All good so far.
But he had overlooked one very important thing.
When it comes to importing food products, you have to know EXACTLY what is in the food you’re bringing in. Not just the main ingredients, but the specifics. You need to know every ingredient PLUS the specific amounts of each one, and you need the documentation to prove it.
Now, my poor noodle man thought he had done the job right. But he’d missed one tiny thing. He knew the sauce included wine alcohol, but he couldn’t tell Customs exactly what percentage it was.
He went to the supplier. They wouldn’t help. He went back to Customs, they said no clearance without it.
This poor guy bounced back and forth from supplier to Customs for months. All the while, he was being charged for storage at the port for the goods he wasn’t allowed to collect!
Now six months has passed since the goods landed on UK soil. There’s still no clearance granted.
It’s a noodle stalemate.
I don’t know what will happen here, but it doesn’t look good for him. Without the documentation it will never get cleared. The chances are the goods will be destroyed and he’ll be out of pocket $5000 for his investment and the extra storage charges for the last half a year too.
The lesson here is that while importing from China can be easy, it is important that you make sure you know your stuff before making the purchase.
A good freight company, like Millennium, will know their stuff. They’ll help you avoid the pitfalls and make sure that you have all the information you need for a fast and easy customs clearance.
So, if you’re thinking of importing, get in touch and we’ll help make sure you never end up out of pocket in a noodle stalemate too!