When we select your goods for inland pre-clearance checks

Find out how inland pre-clearance checks affect you and what you need to do when we carry out checks on your goods.

HMRC may select your goods for inland pre-clearance checks if you’re:

  • a business importing goods into the UK
  • acting as an intermediary for imports to the UK

We select goods for checks to make sure everything relating to your customs declaration is correct before we release your goods.

We use inland pre-clearance to conduct our checks away from the border to reduce congestion.

What the checks include

The checks may include:

  • an examination of your declaration and supporting documents
  • an examination of your goods
  • sampling of your goods

What happens when we select your goods

  1. Your goods arrive in the UK and we select them for checks.
  2. We move them from the place of importation to one of our inland locations.
  3. We email you to invite you to the checks and set a date.
  4. We carry out full checks on your goods.
  5. We tell you the outcome and what you need to do next.
  6. We clear your goods from customs controls ready for their release (if we have not seized them or called for a payment of security).
  7. You arrange collection of your goods.

Before the check

If we select your goods for checks we’ll email you. Email will be our primary method of contact during the check process, but there may be instances where we may contact you by letter or phone. You’ll need to follow all instructions communicated to you.

Before the checks you’ll need to:

  • confirm you are content to communicate by email
  • tell us if you want to attend the examination of your goods
  • give us information if we request it

If you choose not to attend, you can email us to nominate a person to go in your place. But if you do not reply within the time frame we set we’ll still go ahead with the examination.

If you choose to attend the examination of your goods

You can either choose to attend, send a nominated person or attend with them. We’ll agree with you a suitable date and time for the examination.

You’ll need to:

  • give us the full names of those attending
  • have photo ID for attendees at the examination

If you are sending a nominated person, we may need to confirm whether they are authorised to represent you.

You must bring your own personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety footwear and a high visibility vest or jacket. You cannot attend without this.

How long checks may take

Checks may take up to 5 weeks to be completed. While many will be completed within this time, some checks may take longer. The time it takes starts with the selection of a consignment for checks and ends with the outcome of the checks.

The time it takes to complete checks may be due to the:

  • type and quantity of goods we examine
  • amount of time you or your agent take at certain points in the process

We will keep you informed of the progress of the checks.

If you feel there has been an unreasonable delay in carrying out the checks, you can email the ISBC Complaints team at We’ll consider the length of time for checks relating to the facts of your case.

Checking your goods

During the check we may:

  • ask questions about the declaration or the goods
  • examine any records relating to the declaration
  • take details from the declaration and documents
  • take samples to help classify and identify the goods
  • mark goods, documents or items to show we’ve inspected them
  • ask for your help when carrying out a physical inspection
  • detain or seize goods found to be held contrary to customs law

If you have any questions at any stage you can tell the officer dealing with the check. We can only answer questions about the consignment we examine.

If you have to pay financial securities relating to your declaration, you’ll need to pay this before so we can release your goods.

After the check

After the check we will:

  • tell you the outcome of the examination
  • either seize or release your goods

Check the email we send you about the time you have to respond to our decision.

If we need any further evidence you should provide us with any information and documentation you feel may inform our decision.

After the outcome of the checks we may also carry out post-clearance compliance checks. We will tell you if we are going to carry out a post-clearance check in our correspondence with you.

Releasing your goods

To release your goods you may need to complete a payment of security. You’ll find more information in the email we send you.

We’ll ask you to make arrangements to collect your goods if we release them after the checks are complete.

For further guidance you can check general information about customs inland pre-clearance checks (CC/FS1j).

Published 18 September 2020


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