The rules governing customs procedure applying to the introduction of goods to the UK from places outside the European Union (EU) from their arrival until they’re entered to free circulation or another customs procedure are prescribed in:
- UCC Council Regulation (EU) No. 952/2013 (Articles 12 to 14)
- Commission Regulations 2015/2446 and 2015/2447
- Statutory Instrument 1991
- No. 2724 (The Customs Controls on Importation of Goods Regulations 1991) as amended by Statutory Instrument 1992
- No. 3095 (The Customs and Excise (Single Market etc) Regulations 1992) prescribe forms, procedures and the penalties for breaches of the rules
When an importing ship or aircraft arrives at the place where goods are to be unloaded, the goods must be ‘presented’ to customs by the person who brought them into the EU or by the person who assumes responsibility for their onward carriage (this includes freight haulage companies, shipping and aircraft lines).
Goods may be presented by either:
- using an approved computerised trade inventory system linked to customs
- lodging form C1600A at the designated customs office
Goods which have been moved under a transit procedure should be presented to customs under the rules applicable to that procedure.
All goods must be electronically presented immediately upon arrival at the designated customs office approved by customs authorities. If the customs office is closed, presentation must be made within an hour of it re-opening.
Goods can only be ‘presented’ to customs when they’ve actually arrived at the place of unloading.
After presentation the goods must be covered by a declaration to a customs procedure or a temporary storage declaration containing the information needed to identify the goods. The declaration should normally be made at the same customs office as presentation.
The declaration must be made by any of the following:
- the person who conveyed the goods into the EU
- the person who assumes responsibility for their onward carriage
- the shipping, airline or haulage company
- the representative of any of the above
Use form C88 for declarations in the UK. Customs may accept commercial documents or computer records if they contain the necessary details. Acceptable commercial documents include:
- bills of lading
- air way-bills
- container manifests
- load lists
- consignment records (on computerised inventory systems)
Where goods have travelled under a transit procedure, the copy of the transit document retained by the office of destination will be the declaration.
A declaration must be made 24 hours after presentation. If the goods are entered or re-exported from the EU, or destroyed before declaration has been made the declaration might be waived. Contact the customs office at the place of unloading for advice about these waivers.
Following declaration the goods may be put to a prescribed procedure (for example, entry to free circulation, a transit procedure or warehousing regime). Goods which are placed under the EU transit procedure must be presented at the office of destination together with the Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) (or copies 4 and 5 of the Single Administrative Document (SAD) under the fallback procedure) to end the transit movement before they can be placed under another prescribed customs procedure.
An import declaration is only required for the following categories of goods on arrival in the UK:
- goods from a non-EU country direct
- goods from a non-EU country via another EU country which have not already been cleared into free circulation
- goods from the following special territories of the EU:
- Channel Islands
- French Overseas Departments of Martinique
- Reunion and French Guiana
- Canary Islands
- Mount Athos
- Vatican City
When goods are imported into the UK it’s the responsibility of the importer or their authorised agent to declare them to customs. In most cases a SAD is used for this purpose.
When the SAD is used as an import declaration a plain paper print of the information may need to be declared after the input of data by the importer or agent to the customs entry processing computer (CHIEF). The plain paper print must conform, in terms of the location of the information, to the standard document laid down by EU legislation. Alternatively pre-printed forms may be used, this includes forms that have been partially completed in another member state, any missing information must be added to the forms before they are signed and submitted to customs at the place of import clearance.
The input of data by traders to CHIEF is known as Direct Trader Input (DTI). The use of these facilities where they exist, though of substantial benefit to traders and customs alike, is not compulsory. Goods imported for clearance at these locations may be declared to customs on pre-printed SADs instead, without using DTI. These declarations will then normally be input to CHIEF by customs staff before the goods are cleared for importation. This method is known as customs input of entries (CIE).
Where declarations are lodged at a customs computerised locations, such as the National Clearance Hub (NCH) they should be given on a single copy of plain paper or pre-printed stationery (printed pads of copy 6 are available from the VAT: general enquiries helpline). Copy 6 of a set originating in another member state, properly completed and signed in the UK may also be used.
Where goods are declared by the use of manual declarations the dual purpose 4-part set provided in the UK should be used with the reference to export copy numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 deleted. It’s necessary for carbon paper to be inserted between the last 2 copies if the declarant requires a copy for their own use. Copies 6, 7 and 8 of a set originating in another member state, properly completed and signed in the UK may also be used, but carbon paper has to be inserted between all copies prior to completion.
Manual declarations consist of copies 6, 7 and 8. On declarations at DTI and CIE locations a copy 6 is required.
In signing an import declaration the signatory accepts full legal responsibility for all the information it contains, including that which was provided in the export country, or utilizing the specified requirement in a ‘paperless entries’ environment, the signatory accepts full legal responsibility for all the information. The accuracy of the information already on the form must be checked. Any inaccuracies must be corrected and these corrections must be drawn to customs’ attention when the declaration is presented. If necessary a fresh import declaration should be completed.
Information declared on a SAD completed in the export country must not be erased.
Additional copies of the declaration may be required when the goods are subject to certain procedures. These additional copies will be either:
- extra plain paper prints
- extra copy 6s from UK produced pads
- photocopies of copy 6
This part provides detailed information about how to use the SAD as an import declaration, additional documents which may have to be provided, the range of special import facilities available and special requirements relating to certain goods or the circumstances under which they are being imported.