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Becoming a
customs and
trade tax

Starting from scratch

After finishing university, I fell into the trap of my part-time job becoming my full-time job. After 5 years, I decided I wanted something different. I applied to HMRC because I was looking for something a bit more challenging and with more sociable working hours.

To be totally honest, I didn’t know a huge amount about HMRC before I started working here. I had heard from friends that HMRC had a really good reputation and that they treat staff well. I also knew that they took money from my wages every month and that sometimes, if I was lucky, they gave me a tax rebate. Other than that, I was pretty clueless.

Rachel smiling at the camera wearing an orange dress

Learning the ropes

When I first started in my role as a Compliance Caseworker, I completed nine months of tax training in a specialised Central Training Unit (CTU). For the first 3 or so months, I did general training on what the role involved, and I also learned about several different tax types. The training was varied and included virtual workshops, online courses and case studies.

For the next 6 months I was allocated to my current tax, which is Customs and International Trade. I was really excited to get into the specifics of this tax and start working on my own live cases, where I would work directly with customers. This training was intensive at times, but it really helped me to be a better Compliance Officer. It improved my knowledge and made a lot more confident in my abilities.

Becoming a specialist

At the end of this 9 month period, I was allocated to a team of customs caseworkers within Taskforce and Specialist Compliance. Our main job is to contact traders who’ve had goods stopped at the UK border. We do a full check into their import procedures to ensure that they’ve paid the correct amounts of Customs Duty & Import VAT.

Our role is also in a state of constant change due to the ongoing situation with Northern Ireland in the EU after Brexit. I’m based in Belfast dealing with NI-based companies, which means that I’m constantly learning in my role to ensure that any information I give customers is up-to-date.

No two days are the same

A typical day for me would be difficult to describe because of how varied the work is. One day I could be in the office reviewing a customer’s records or updating case information. The next day I could be down at the docks interviewing a shipping company, ensuring their shipping procedures are in line with HMRC’s expectations. Some days I could be doing some more learning, and later this month I’m visiting another HMRC office for specialist training.

After years working in a role where every day was the same, I love that my job is so varied and each week brings new challenges. One of my favourite things about my job is the team of people I get to work with every day. We all worked in different sectors before this, so we’ve developed a range of skills and knowledge that we share with one another. My colleagues are so supportive, making my transition into the new team so much easier.

The best is yet to come

Joining HMRC and training to become a Compliance Caseworker has been one of my best decisions to date. The job can be stressful, but this is massively outweighed by how rewarding it is.

I’ve made some great new friends in my wonderful and supportive colleagues. I’m really looking forward to seeing how my career develops over the next few years in HMRC.

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