Manchester-based customs clearance firm expands into Northern Ireland

Avocet Clearance set to assist businesses navigate challenging customs rules

By Claire Cartmill
Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 5:00 pm
Co-founders, James O’Neill and Holly Tonge, alongside Patrick Stratford, who will lead the team in Northern Ireland
Co-founders, James O’Neill and Holly Tonge, alongside Patrick Stratford, who will lead the team in Northern Ireland

Avocet Clearance, based in Manchester, has recently expanded its services to Northern Ireland, due to demand for specialised knowledge and experience, particularly surrounding new customs declaration requirements.

Holly Tonge and James O’Neill, who are both customs consultants by trade, founded Avocet Clearance when they identified a gap in the market for customs brokerage as the Brexit discussion ensued.

The company has experienced a high uptake for its services since the implementation the NI Protocol, growing from two members of staff to over 20 in less than 12 months.

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James explained: “We initially set up our office in Manchester concerned at how unprepared for the changes many traders were, and we now support over 600 clients across an array of industries, based in both the UK and Europe. It especially helped that we had experience in handling more complex consignments such as live animals and excise goods.”

Holly continued: “When speaking to traders moving goods through Northern Ireland, we have found they are often very confused about their responsibilities, or how they are meant to go about fulfilling them in practice. We were shocked to hear that many importers are opting to pay unnecessary customs duties for fear of the consequences of non-compliance.”

There are two main systems used for customs declarations in Belfast; the Customs Declaration Service (CDS), recently replacing CHIEF to handle rest of the world imports and exports, and the Trader Support Service (TSS) which was introduced to handle the new admin requirements and declarations between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. These are in addition to the National Computerised Transit System (NCTS) which supports movements within the EU. Avocet Clearance, with an experienced and proficient team, removes the need for companies to try to navigate the complexities of these systems and processes.

Having established a city centre office in Belfast, Avocet Clearance appointed Patrick Stratford to lead the team in Northern Ireland. Patrick has worked with a number of local companies and has extensive knowledge of Northern Ireland trading procedures with the UK, EU and the rest of the world.

Patrick added: “I was delighted to join the team and lead the operations in Belfast. It has been highly rewarding taking the stress away from traders, who no longer need to worry about outstanding TSS declarations, or who were looking for alternative solutions to move goods into, out of or through Northern Ireland. We have also helped many importers save significant amounts of duty.

“Of course, as a company, that’s not all we offer support with. We are often arranging transport and origin or destination clearance for them as well, for a complete end-to-end solution through our network of partners, especially across Europe. My previous experience lends itself perfectly to this role having worked and assisted companies in the agriculture, retail, pharma and manufacturing sectors.

“It’s Avocet Clearance’s mission to remove any administrative barriers for Northern Irish companies and become the ‘go to’ for those that require assistance when moving goods. With a team founded on extensive experience and excellent customer service, and having achieved the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status within our first year in business, we are sure we can deliver.”

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