We have been exporting goods for many years and suddenly we’ve come across something called “known shipper status” which we are told we MUST HAVE or our goods won’t get out of the country by air freight. It appears to be run by the Department for Transport (DfT) and we have been told it will cost us about £400 to obtain and then it has to be renewed annually (at a cost), and this doesn’t include the costs required to train staff to an acceptable standard or the time involved. We’re a small business; surely this can’t be right? I’ve heard about a supply chain security approval being run by HM Revenue & Customs which is free — I think it’s called AEO — would it be advisable for me to get this instead of incurring the costs for this “known shipper status”? Alternatively, if we did incur the cost of this DfT accreditation, is it quick to get, would we be limited to the number of shipments we make, and is it recognised worldwide? Which is the quickest to get?

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