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Back Outsourcing your customs services

Outsourcing a whole department is never easy, but when it has to happen during the start of a pandemic and needs to be completed within 4 weeks to ensure a robust handover from the incumbent team, flexibility and experience are key.


A well-known Japanese company, specialising in optical, imaging, and industrial products, such as lenses, cameras, medical equipment, scanners, printers, and semiconductor manufacturing equipment.


Commercial and consumer technology


Outsourcing of customs clearance

An office move is disruptive for any business and adding an additional requirement of “Make sure the Customs team can still operate” might not be an obvious thing to put on the moving checklist. After announcing the new location of their head office, this well-known company in consumer goods did not expect the whole team of 4 internal customs specialists to choose voluntary redundancy.

Not only had they found themselves in a situation where in 4 weeks’ time they would not have a customs clearance team, the company was also right in the middle of their preparation for Brexit. They quickly had to re-evaluate their situation to ensure they could keep their goods moving and secure capability to cope with the increased workload after Brexit.

Their European Procurement team in the Netherlands sprang into action and started a rigorous tender process to find a safe pair of hands that could take care of all import and export declarations and clearances to ensure business. Kuehne+Nagel fitted the bill and were awarded the business in February 2020 just as the Covid pandemic was taking hold across the world.

Change is never easy but this transition also had to happen during the start of a pandemic and had to be completed within 4 weeks to ensure a robust handover from the incumbent team. This was going to take extra planning and flexibility.

Our amazing Customs team stepped in to ensure a smooth collaboration while keeping themselves, and our new Customer safe as we started to work together. National Customs Sales Manager, Layla Locke-Hart and Customs Operational Managers, Paul Jamieson and Jake Silver were on site twice a week from the beginning of March before everyone was working remotely when the UK went into lockdown in April.

The lockdown did not deter our team and they switched to alternative solutions with a clever use of technology for the handover to continue. This meant Layla and the team could fully understand the customer's complex supply chains and numerous legal entities so we could take on the HRMC communication, reporting, Imports and Exports Declaration & Clearance services they were outsourcing. The team were able to build relationships with a complex mix of global stakeholders over Zoom/Skype to great effect.

”Learning the internal systems and the operational process of a global customer coupled with a hugely complex network of internal stakeholders and external freight partners all over video conferencing was certainly a challenge. With hindsight, this was an extremely valuable learning lesson for us as little did we know at the time, this would be the new way of working with customers!” - Layla Locke-Hart.

The decision was made to extend one member of the existing team for an additional few months due to the unusual situation to ensure a successful handover.

Our Customs team took over the operations from the end of March 2020 as planned despite the challenges to implement a complex operation of this scale.  

Our customer's customs clearance are now all done by the Kuehne+Nagel UK customs team.  Our monthly business reviews with this client prove our success which has led to us now supporting them with their Brexit requirements too.

“Half way through the month of January 2021, we are pleased to say that both EU - UK import and export shipments have passed smoothly through the border. Despite the huge volume uplift following the end of the Transition Period, there hasn't been any service disruption to the management of the existing 3rd country customs requirements for this customer. To ensure continued success, we have put in place a hyper care solution with twice daily service review and planning calls." - Layla Locke-Hart

If you have a Customs question you can reach Layla and the UK Customs and Trade Compliance Team here

Our existing freight relationship with Kuehne+Nagel Netherlands coupled with the flexibility and proactive approach from the Kuehne+Nagel UK team was key to our decision

European Procurement Team

Our solutions for this customer:

Imports: Declaration & Clearance

  • Import clearance under CFSP Regime; supporting carriers with information for SFD and completing final import declaration before 4th working day of following month
  • Duty deferment account management and monitoring of import VAT payments for 5 legal entities.
  • Imports not covered under CFSP Regime; e.g. Home-Use, personal shipments

Exports: Declaration & Clearance

  • ATA Carnet shipments

  • Temporary import/export for loans and exhibitions

  • Shipments to global locations and EU (post Transition) and the creation of shipping paperwork.

  • Maintaining accurate records of all export shipments for transparency and audit purposes


  • Warehouses, carriers and forwarders; inbound/outbound shipments, arranging of transport, communication as required under CFSP regime

  • HMRC communications and updates


  • Intrastat, including ROS across 5 legal entities.