Guidance

Apply for grants if your business completes customs declarations

Find out what grants you can apply for to get funding for recruitment, training and IT improvements if your business completes customs declarations.

You can apply for 3 grants to help your business complete customs declarations.

You can apply to get funding for:

  • training that helps your business to complete customs declarations and processes
  • hiring new staff to help your business complete customs declarations
  • IT improvements to help your business complete customs declarations more efficiently

Who can apply

Your business must:

  • have been established in the UK for at least 12 months before the submission of your application and when the grant is paid
  • not have previously failed to meet its tax obligations – we’ll check our records to decide if we can offer your business a grant

In addition, your businesses must meet one of the descriptions below:

  • complete or intend to complete customs declarations on behalf of your clients
  • be an importer or exporter and complete, or intend to complete, declarations internally for your own goods
  • be an organisation which recruits, trains and places apprentices in businesses to undertake customs declarations

What you must use the grants for

Recruitment

You must use the funding to cover the recruitment and salary costs of new employees, where the new employee started on or after 12 June 2020, who will help your business complete customs declarations.

You can also use the funding to cover the salary costs of employees who are redeployed from another part of your business to undertake customs declarations. These new roles for redeployed employees must increase the capacity of the company to deal with customs declarations.

Training

The training must give you or your employees the skills to:

  • complete customs declarations
  • carry out customs processes – this can include relevant training in safety and security

The training does not have to lead to a formal qualification.

If you want to arrange the training internally, you can use the funding for the cost of delivering the training, like related stationery, room hire, catering and travel and subsistence costs.

If the training will be delivered by an in-house trainer, you can also use the funding to cover the reasonable day rate of the trainer.

You can also use the grant to reimburse what your business has spent on relevant training since 12 June 2020.

You cannot use the funding for other unrelated training.

IT improvements

You must use the funding to buy software that will help your business to complete customs declarations more efficiently.

It must be a ready-made solution. You cannot use the funding to commission bespoke software.

You can also use the funding to:

  • buy hardware that’s needed for the software to run
  • install and configure the software and hardware
  • buy the first year licence
  • train employees to use the software

You can also use the grant to reimburse what your business has spent on relevant IT improvements since 12 June 2020.

You cannot use the funding for unrelated networking costs.

Amounts of funding available

Recruitment grant

The grant will give you £3,000 towards recruitment costs for each new employee. Upfront recruitment costs will not be covered for an employee redeployed from another part of the business, unless this is part of an external recruitment campaign.

You could also get up to £12,000 to cover the salary costs for each new or redeployed employee.

Training grant

The grant will give you up to 100% of the actual costs of externally-provided training for your employees, up to a limit of £1,500 for each employee on the course.

It will also cover the cost of training you run internally, up to a limit of £250 for each employee on the course.

IT improvements

The grant will give you 100% of the costs relating to your IT expenditure to improve the efficiency of making customs declarations.

State aid limitations

These grants will give you up to 200,000 euros, which is the maximum amount of state aid available. This limit applies to the total of all grants applications received in the last 3 years.

General Block Exemption Regulations (GBER) training aid

There will be an opportunity to apply for funding under GBER training aid as well as the grants offered now. The eligibility requirements are the same.

However applications for training aid under GBER work differently from applications to the existing scheme. There’s also greater flexibility in what you can claim for.

The difference is, if you apply for GBER training aid you must define your own ‘training project’ and confirm that you need the aid before work begins. Once the project is approved, aid can be claimed.

When you apply you’ll need to provide the following information about your training project:

  • name and size of it
  • a description of it, including start and end dates
  • its location
  • a list of costs, including quotes relating to individual items
  • the amount of funding you need, and how you’ll want it paid

Eligible costs can include:

  • trainers’ costs
  • operating costs relating to the project
  • trainees’ personnel costs for the hours during which they took part in training

Valid training includes training on how to:

  • complete customs declarations
  • manage customs processes and use customs software and systems

The limits to grants limit are:

  • a maximum of 2 million euros
  • not to exceed 50% of the eligible costs – this may be increased up to a maximum of 70% of the eligible costs as follows:
    • by 10% if the training is given to workers with disabilities, or disadvantaged workers
    • by 10% if the aid is granted to medium-sized enterprises
    • by 20% if the aid is granted to small enterprises

Applicants cannot claim aid under GBER for the same activities that aid has already been been granted for, or use this aid as a co-investment.

We will update this page with further details about the application process soon.

What you’ll need

When you apply, you’ll be asked for your business’s:

  • registered name and number
  • contact details
  • VAT number, if this applies
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
  • most recent utility bill

You’ll also need to provide information about what you’ll use the funding for and advise us of your expected growth in capacity to complete customs declarations or take on new clients.

Recruitment

You’ll be asked to complete an application setting out how the money will be used. You’ll need to give information about:

  • why you expect your business to need more staff
  • the stage your recruitment process is at

Training grant

You’ll be asked for:

  • a quote for the cost of the training – where appropriate this can include but is not limited to trainer costs, venue hire, training materials, and travel and subsistence
  • the CV of the trainer if the training will be delivered internally

IT improvements grant

You’ll be asked for:

  • details of the software you intend to buy
  • quotes for the cost of:
    • buying and installing the software
    • buying and installing related hardware
    • training employees to use the software

How to apply

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is administering the grants for HMRC.

Apply online through PwC.

After you’ve applied

If your application is successful you’ll get a grant offer letter.

You will receive the funding for the cost of recruitment and then 50% of the eligible salary costs once the grant offer is issued. The remaining 50% of salary costs will be paid when you have provided the new employee’s contract, signed and dated, and first payslip.

You’ll need to submit proof of how much you’ve spent on IT improvements or training within 2 months of getting the grant offer letter.

You’ll then get the grant within 30 days. It’ll be paid by BACs to a UK bank account in the name of the person or organisation who applied.

Following a successful grant application we will contact you for further information to check how the funding has supported your organisation to deliver its plans.

How to treat the grants for tax

When calculating your business’s taxable profits, you need to match the treatment of the grant to the expense covered by the grant. For example, if the training expense is deductible, then you should include the amount of grant in your calculation of taxable profits so that the expense is offset.

If your business has spent more on capital expenditure than is covered by the grant, like IT equipment, you can get capital allowance on the amount not covered by the grant.

Your business cannot get capital allowance on the amount of grant covering the cost of your business’s capital expenditure.

Published 22 November 2018
Last updated 30 October 2020 
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