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A brief guide to import procedures

HMRC Reference:Notice 501 (April 2012) View Change History
 

Contents

1. What is this notice about?

2. Making an import entry

2.1 Trade with countries outside the European Union (EU)

2.2 The Tariff

2.3 Trade with other EU member states

2.4 Deferring payment of customs charges

3. Goods eligible for reduced rates of duty

3.1 What goods are eligible?

3.2 Preference and tariff quota arrangements

3.3 Temporary suspension of customs duty

4. Import procedures

4.1 'Season ticket' valuation statements

4.2 Customs Freight Simplified Procedures

4.3 Warehousing

4.4 Free zones

4.5 Inland Clearance Depots (ICDs)

4.6 Enhanced Remote Transit Sheds

4.7 Interport removals

4.8 Transit and transhipment

5. Reliefs

5.1 Inward Processing Relief (IPR)

5.2 Processing under Customs Control (PCC)

5.3 End-use Relief

5.4 Temporary importation and other conditional reliefs

Your rights and obligations

Do you have any comments or suggestions?

Putting things right

How we use your information

 

1. What is this notice about?

This notice outlines some of the more important customs import facilities and procedures you may be able to use when importing goods.

It also provides details of where you can obtain further information.

You can get copies of all our notices from our Helpline. (Phone: 0845 010 9000)

2. Making an import entry

2.1 Trade with countries outside the European Union (EU)

If you are in business and import goods into the UK, you must normally declare them by making an entry on form C88 the Single Administrative Document (SAD) and delivering it to us. You may either do this yourself or arrange for an agent to act for you. If you or your agent has approval you can input entry data direct to our computerised entry processing system. This is called Direct Trader Input (DTI).

2.2 The Tariff

The HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom (‘the Tariff’) is published by the Stationery Office as a loose-leaf set of three volumes. The Tariff:

  • explains how to make an entry
  • sets out the codes to be used
  • gives information on which reliefs from customs duty may be available, and
  • gives details of other arrangements for declaration, such as those used when goods are imported privately or by post.

You can get the Tariff from Government bookshops (see the Yellow Pages) or through good booksellers. You can also consult the Tariff at many reference libraries or you can also consult it online at the Businesslink-International Trade.

You can find further information in Notices:

2.3 Trade with other EU member states

If you import goods from another EU member state, you do not need to make a customs entry. However, you may be required to complete an Intrastat supplementary declaration if your EU imports (arrivals) exceed an annual value threshold.

2.4 Deferring payment of customs charges

When you import goods you must pay duty, Value Added Tax (VAT), agricultural levy, etc., which are liable under UK or EU law. However, you can defer paying most import charges and those due on the removal of goods from warehouses or free zones (including VAT) for an average of 30 days. To be approved for deferment, you must meet certain conditions, including:

  • providing an approved security, and
  • agreeing to pay by direct debit.

You can find further information in Notice 101 Deferring duty, VAT and other charges.

3. Goods eligible for reduced rates of duty

3.1 What goods are eligible?

The goods you import may be eligible for admission at a nil or reduced rate of duty if they:

  • originated in a preference country or were in free circulation within Turkey, or
  • are from a non-EU country and qualify for temporary suspension of customs duty.

3.2 Preference and tariff quota arrangements

Certain goods which originate in a ‘preference’ country may be imported into the EU at a nil or reduced rate of customs duty. The exporter must provide you with evidence in the form of an approved Preference Certificate issued by a recognised competent authority to present to us proving the origin of the goods. There may be a limit on the total quantity of goods which can be admitted at a preferential rate in a specified period. Preferences on Turkish goods are based on their being in free circulation rather than on their origin.

You can find further information in Notices:

You can find details of the preferences available in the Tariff.

3.3 Temporary suspension of customs duty

You may also benefit from a nil or reduced rate of duty on certain goods imported from non-EU countries. Each of these products is clearly identified by an individual classification code and a suspension shown in the Tariff volume 2 column 3.

4. Import procedures

4.1 'Season ticket' valuation statements

An individual valuation declaration should normally accompany the import entry for goods liable to customs duty where the value of the goods exceeds £6,000. However, if you regularly import dutiable goods, you can save time by completing and registering a general valuation statement. You need to complete this form only once every three years provided that the terms and conditions of supply in that period do not change.

You can find further information in Notice 252 Valuation of imported goods for customs purposes, VAT and trade statistics.

4.2 Customs Freight Simplified Procedures

Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP) are electronic declaration methods. These are designed to enhance and simplify customs procedures for clearing imported goods either at the frontier or upon removal from a free zone or customs warehouse.

CFSP offers a variety of procedures which may be operated in isolation or combined to best meet your particular needs. You can opt to use either the Simplified Declaration Procedure (SDP) or Local Clearance Procedure (LCP).

In both cases you submit the declaration in two stages. The initial declaration provides us with a minimum amount of data which effects the release of the goods. You can provide this either at the frontier in the form of a simplified SAD (SFD) or as an entry in your records. You then follow this up with an electronic SAD which contains the full fiscal and statistical data.

You can find further information in Notice 760 Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP).

4.3 Warehousing

If you import non-EU goods liable to customs duty and/or Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) charges, you can suspend payment of the import charges by placing the goods in an approved customs warehouse. Charges are only payable (but may be deferred, see section 2.4) when the goods are removed from the customs warehousing arrangements.

These facilities are also available for excise goods and for CAP goods imported from other EU states which are liable only to positive Monetary Compensatory Amounts.

You can find further information in Notices:

4.4 Free zones

You can move imported goods into a free zone without paying import charges (although relief from excise duty is available only if there is an approved excise warehouse in the zone). You pay customs duty and import VAT only if you:

  • bring goods out of the zone into the EU market, or
  • use or consume them in the zone.

Within the zone you may, with the appropriate authorisation, process imported goods free of customs duty and import VAT except that:

  • customs duty is payable when products are intended for the EU market, and
  • import VAT is payable when processed goods are delivered for the EU market.

Any supplies of goods and services within the zone are subject to the normal VAT rules.

You can find further information in Notice 334 Free zones.

4.5 Inland Clearance Depots (ICDs)

Instead of having your goods cleared at a port or airport, you can obtain customs clearance at an approved inland depot. There are depots throughout the UK. Normally only goods in containers, rail freight wagons or road vehicles which can be sealed may be removed for clearance inland. However, in some cases we may allow the use of another means of conveyance which cannot be sealed.

You can find further information in Notice 199A Temporary storage and approved depositories.

4.6 Enhanced Remote Transit Sheds

If you are a freight agent and are approved by us to do so, you can remove non-EU goods from the port or airport of arrival in the UK to premises inland, namely, an Enhanced Remote Transit Shed (ERTS) where the goods will be placed in temporary storage. We will then clear the goods at the ERTS once an entry has been made at the National Clearance Hub.

You can find further information in Notice 199A Temporary storage and approved depositories

4.7 Interport removals

The interport removal facility enables you to move uncleared goods from the place of import to another approved port or airport for customs clearance. The procedures are similar to those which operate for removal to an ICD (see section 4.5).

You can find further information in Notice 199A Temporary storage and approved depositories.

4.8 Transit and transhipment

The simplified transit procedures allow goods to be taken through the EU and on to a third country without payment of import charges. Whilst the goods are in transit they can, under certain conditions, be regrouped or repacked but they must not be altered.

Goods in transit should normally be delivered to their destination within eight days. If you wish to hold the goods within the EU for a longer period, goods arriving by sea may be held for up to 45 days under the Temporary Storage Procedure.

You can find further information in Notice 199A Temporary storage and approved depositories.

Or in the Transit Manual.

5. Reliefs

5.1 Inward Processing Relief (IPR)

You can obtain duty relief on imported goods from non-EU countries which you process in the EU and then re-export to a non-EU country provided that the trade does not harm the interests of EU producers of similar goods.

You can obtain relief from customs duty, specific customs duty (previously CAP charges), Anti-Dumping Duty and Countervailing Duty but not excise duties. Import VAT is not due if the goods are entered to IPR suspension but is due if the goods are entered to IPR drawback. Processing can be anything from repacking or sorting goods to the most complicated manufacturing.

You may also qualify for relief if you obtain the goods from someone who is approved for IPR in the EU or if you dispose of finished goods other than by re-export.

You can only use IPR if you meet certain conditions and record keeping requirements, and we have given our approval. You can find further information in Notice 221 Inward Processing Relief.

5.2 Processing under Customs Control (PCC)

In most cases you will not be able to claim duty relief on imported goods which are processed but not subsequently re-exported. However, if the duty due on the raw materials used in the process is greater than it would have been had you imported the finished product, you can declare the goods to free circulation at the lower rate that applies to the finished product rather than at the rate that applies to the raw materials.

You can only use PCC if you meet certain conditions and record keeping requirements, and we have given our approval. You can find further information in Notice 237 Processing under Customs control.

5.3 End-use Relief

End-use provides duty relief on imported goods in order to promote certain EU industries and trades. To qualify for relief:

  • the goods and/or processes must be eligible for end-use relief
  • you must be authorised by us for the relief (except for certain denatured products), and
  • the goods must be put to their prescribed end-use within agreed time limits.

End-use relief applies only to customs duty. VAT, if due, must be paid, unless any separate VAT relief applies.

You can find further information in Notice 770 Imported goods: end-use relief.

5.4 Temporary importation and other conditional reliefs

You may not have to pay customs duty and other import charges when goods are either temporarily imported or imported finally for particular purposes. In either case certain conditions must be met.

A large range of other reliefs are also available. Temporary importation and all other conditional reliefs with references to the appropriate Notice, are listed in the Tariff, volume 1, part 10.

Your rights and obligations

Your Charter explains what you can expect from us and what we can expect from you. For more information go to Your Charter.

Do you have any comments or suggestions?

If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this notice, please write to:

HM Revenue & Customs
Imports Policy and Procedures
10th Floor Central, Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
Southend-on-Sea
SS99 1AA

Please note this address is not for general enquiries.

For your general enquiries please phone our Helpline 0845 010 9000.

Putting things right

If you are unhappy with our service, please contact the person or office you have been dealing with. They will try to put things right. If you are still unhappy, they will tell you how to complain.

If you want to know more about making a complaint go to hmrc.gov.uk and under quick links, select Complaints and appeals.

How we use your information

HMRC is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. We hold information for the purposes specified in our notification to the Information Commissioner, including the assessment and collection of tax and duties, the payment of benefits and the prevention and detection of crime, and may use this information for any of them.

We may get information about you from others, or we may give information to them. If we do, it will only be as the law permits to:

  • check the accuracy of information
  • prevent or detect crime
  • protect public funds.

We may check information we receive about you with what is already in our records. This can include information provided by you, as well as by others, such as other Government departments or agencies and overseas tax and customs authorities. We will not give information to anyone outside HMRC unless the law permits us to do so. For more information go to hmrc.gov.uk and look for Data Protection Act within the Search facility.

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