Here is another Incoterm which is creating somewhat of a stir at present. Whilst EXW means that the buyer takes full responsibility for all charges from the seller’s door, when it comes to customs, we have an anomaly. Let me explain.
For a company acting as a Customs Agent, in order to be protected by acting as a ‘Direct Agent’, one must be appointed by an entity established in the UK. In the case where one is acting for an entity not established in the UK, such representation is deemed as ‘Indirect’.
As you may have read in the section on ‘Direct Representation‘, in the case of the latter (Indirect), the Customs Agent is jointly and severally responsible for any potential debt that may arise.
Where a seller sells EXW, the buyer would appoint its carrier to collect. The UK correspondent of the appointed carrier would then handle export customs formalities and charge their foreign counterpart who in turn would charge the buyer. In doing so, there is risk. Therefore, even where the seller sells EXW, the party completing the export customs formalities should receive empowerment from the seller to act as Direct Customs Agent.
Our industry body has recently written an article which goes into greater detail and this can be found here starting at page 12. It takes a few reads, but as you will note, many UK forwarders are hesitant at transacting EXW exports for the reasons stated above.
Since January 1st this year, we have taken a wider view and have freely accepted such shipments on the basis that we have robust agreements with our foreign partners. However, as time ticks on, and the processes become more familiar with all, we will begin to insist that such consignments are supported with empowerment by the actual seller, certainly from 1st July onwards.
If anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.