What is a clearance authorisation?
A clearance authorisation is a document authorising a customs representative to submit one or more customs declarations in the importer’s or exporter’s name. It also authorises them to represent the importer or exporter in terms of customs inspections, discrepancies over tariff classifications, applications for the recovery of sums unduly paid and penalty procedures, etc.
Is a clearance authorisation always necessary?
In reality, an authorisation is not always necessary. Exporters and importers can deal with customs formalities and submit customs declarations themselves. However, in practice, most companies prefer to entrust customs representation to a forwarder or customs agent because it is difficult and costly work.
In addition, when the customs representative is an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO), clearance is quicker because there are usually less documentary and physical cargo checks involved.
Hence, delegating customs clearance to forwarders with AEO status is advisable.
The following legislation regulates customs representation:
- Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2913/92, of 12th October 1992, establishing the Community Customs Code.
- Spanish Decree of 17th October 1947 in which the General ordinance on customs and excise duties was approved.
- Spanish General Taxation Law.
- General regulation on tax management and inspection procedures and on the implementation of common standards governing tax application procedures approved by Spanish Royal Decree 1065/2007 of 27th July.
- Spanish Royal Decree 335/2010, of 19th March, governing the right to make customs declarations and the role of customs representatives.
- By a ruling on 16th July 2010, the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court suspended the derogating provision of Spanish Royal Decree 335/2010, of 19th March, governing the right to make customs declarations and the role of customs representatives with regard to sections b), c) and e).
Under what circumstances is an authorisation necessary?
Whenever customs clearance is necessary and the taxable person (the exporter or importer) has chosen to have a customs representative.
“But I sell EXW…”
Sometimes we come across exporters who tell us that, because they sell EXW and don’t handle anything themselves, they do not need to sign an authorisation. This is a common mistake that we would like to clear up.
The EXW or Ex works Incoterm states that the cargo is delivered by being made available at the seller’s factory or warehouse. However, the seller must provide, on request and at the buyer’s risk and expense, specific assistance in obtaining any export licence or other official authorisation where appropriate.
Hence, any exporter should provide the forwarder with a clearance authorisation, regardless of the Incoterm used in the sale.
What types of authorisation are there?
There are two types of authorisation:
- A single authorisation allows the customs representative to represent their client in a single operation. This operation is identified in the authorisation by the sales invoice details on the international sale.
- A general authorisation allows the customs representative to represent their client in all operations and dealings with customs for an indefinite period so long as the authorisation is not cancelled. General authorisations tend to cover any customs offices that may be used.
General authorisations are preferable as they are more flexible. Without one, the client will have to provide their customs representative with a new, signed authorisation for every clearance (export or import).
What details should be included on a clearance authorisation?
Full details of the importer or exporter, including name or company name, address, corporate tax identification number (CIF) and EORI should be provided along with details of the customs representative.
Single authorisations should also include sales invoice details. The particular details included will depend on the forwarder’s authorisation form. However, they are usually the invoice number, date, currency and details about the packages including weight and value.
General authorisations also require signature verification which we will discuss below.
What are the different types of clearance authorisation form?
Each forwarder or customs agent will have their own.
What kind of signature verification is required for a clearance authorisation?
For general authorisations, the customs authorities accept two types of signature verification:
- Bank signature verification: the bank verifies the signature and certifies that the signatory has the power to sign the authorisation. This procedure is usually quick and easy as the bank keeps a copy of the customs power of attorney and a record of the authorised signatory’s signature.
- Inclusion of sufficient power of attorney details: the details of the customs power of attorney (number and date) under which the signatory has the power to sign the authorisation must be shown on the authorisation. The client must also provide their forwarder with a copy of the customs power of attorney.
As both types of signature verification are perfectly valid, the client can use whichever method suits them best.
Single authorisations can only be signed by an authorised signatory of the company requesting representation.
Can a clearance authorisation be revoked?
Yes, of course. A clearance authorisation can be revoked by notifying the customs representative who, in the case of a general authorisation, must notify the customs authorities.
Can the clearance authorisation be sent by email or fax?
No. The customs authorities require forwarders to have the original, signed and verified clearance authorisation in their possession at the time of customs clearance.
The customs authorities do not accept copies or scanned copies, etc.
Why does TIBA ask me for the original clearance authorisation when other companies don’t or they accept it by email?
The law is clear in this respect: we must have original authorisations (with verified signatures for general authorisations). As an Authorised Economic Operator and a responsible company, we believe the only way to offer a good, reliable and consistent service to our clients is by complying with current legislation.