Manchester firm sets up in Belfast in response to demand for customs clearance services

Avocet Clearance co-founders, James O’Neill and Holly Tonge, with Patrick Stratford.

A MANCHESTER-based customs clearance firm has opened a new Belfast base in response to demand for its services under the Northern Ireland protocol.

Avocet Clearance was founded by customs consultants Holly Tonge and James O’Neill after identifying a gap in the market for customs brokerage in the Brexit era.

The company said it has gone from two staff to more than 20 in under 12 months after experiencing a high uptake for its services since the implementation the protocol.

It has now set up shop in the Scottish Provident Building next to Belfast City Hall.

Firms here are getting to grips with both the Trader Support Service (TSS), for moving goods between the north and Britain, and the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) for rest of the World imports and exports.

“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,” said James O’Neill.

“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,” added Holly Tonge.

“We were shocked to hear that many importers are opting to pay unnecessary customs duties for fear of the consequences of non-compliance.”

Avocet Clearance has appointed Patrick Stratford to lead its team in Northern Ireland.

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