Oh dear – I’m going to sound like some grumpy old man. Another rant:
I am trying to organise the importation of a consignment of plants from Australia from next week.
In order to do this, I must be registered with the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (part of the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs). I’ve always got on well with PHSI – they’re a grotesquely under-funded and under-staffed bunch who try their best to prevent another Colorado Beetle or Dutch Elm Disease type problem from wiping out horticulture, agriculture and our native fauna. Our local inspector in Chichester is a part-time copper and a great laugh.
Anyway, in order to make the application for registration, I need something called a TURN. This stands for Trader Unique Reference Number and is issued by HM Customs and Excise. For most businesses, their TURN is their VAT number plus an additional three zeros on the end.
All well and good if you are already VAT registered, but my business isn’t. So, I need to apply for something called a Pseudo-TURN. This is issued by HMCE to businesses and entities that don’t have a VAT number.
Following so far?
So, I contact HMCE and they kindly put me through to a chap who is responsible for issuing Psuedo-TURNs. I explain the situation and he sends me a form by email straight away. Excellent so far. However, in order to complete the form, I have to tell them the flight details of the plane carrying the inbound consignment as well as something called the Air Way Bill number (or AWB – anyone who has ever had anything to do with international air frieght will know what this is).
The problem is that I don’t have this information. I can’t get a Pseudo-TURN until I get the AWB and flight details. I can’t get the AWB and flight details until I orgainse the consignment. I can’t orgainse the consignment until I’ve registered as an importer. And I can’t register as an importer until I’ve got a Pseudo-TURN.
I explained this to the man at HMCE. Utter intransigence. He simply refuses to budge from their policy and push a couple of bits of paper to issue a number to me and free up the logjam. Thankfully, PHSI, as usual, are completely flexible and have agreed to register me as an importer subject to me supplying them with a Pseudo-TURN as soon as I have it, so we can now get things moving. But the head of importer registration at PHSI in York was, frankly, astonished at HMCE’s reluctance to do this. The whole system was introduced earlier this year in order to make life simpler. It’s failed to do that for me.
Hels has just looked over my shoulder and told me that this is all utterly boring and nobody will want to read it. Probably true, but it’s my site and I don’t care. So nerr.