2.4 Presentation of import declarations to HMRC

Import declarations (but excluding certain CFSP and paperless Route 6 entries) must be presented to the NCH:

HM Revenue and Customs

Fax: 0800 496 0699

Email: Northregionepuoperations@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk or NCHLAP@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Import declarations must be made directly following presentation of the goods to HMRC.

Import declarations can be pre-entered onto CHIEF up to 30 days prior to the arrival of the vessel/goods. This period includes weekends and public holidays. For declarations entered by DTI, goods which have not arrived within 30 days are expected to be removed from CHIEF by the importer or their agent until the necessary system changes have been made to allow the CHIEF auto delete facility to function in tandem with [air]port inventory systems.

The paper copy of the import declaration and any supporting papers for those entries which importers and/or their agents believe will be allocated a Route 1, 2 or 3 can be pre-lodged with the NCH up to 5 actual days prior to the arrival of the goods / vessel. This period includes weekends and public holidays.

Customs clearance is normally linked to the port or airport of importation but clearance facilities for goods transported in secure vehicles or containers are, with some exceptions, provided at specified inland clearance depots.

Goods must not be removed from the place of importation or clearance without customs authority.

2.5 Acceptance of import declarations

Legal acceptance of a declaration submitted in advance of the goods’ arrival will only occur:

  • after the vehicle, vessel or aircraft has arrived at its intended place of discharge, or another place designated by customs
  • the arrival of the goods in the UK has been notified to customs
  • the declaration is valid and contains no apparent errors

Notice of arrival will generally be effected by the delivery to customs of a manifest showing details of all goods carried by the ship, aircraft or vehicle. In certain circumstances (see schedule below) an individual notice of arrival (form C27) must be submitted to customs if the free circulation or home use declaration is presented prior to the arrival of the goods. This requirement does not apply to DTI declarations, where an electronic notification is required from either the declarant or the inventory system operator.

However, acceptance of a declaration input to CHIEF by a DTI agent after arrival of the goods, shall (except for SDIs and SDWs) be the date and time that the computers’ acceptance responses are output on the VDU screen of the DTI agent. This date and time is printed on the entry acceptance advice and is recorded on CHIEF.

The rates and amounts of import duties, and other rules and provisions relating to goods released for free circulation or home use, are those in force at the time the declaration is legally accepted by customs.

Where the rate of exchange advised by customs for the expected date of acceptance of the declaration differs from that in force on the date of presentation, the rate of exchange which will be in force when the declaration is accepted must be used when calculating any duties and taxes.

The circumstances when form C27 must be provided with the declaration are:

Goods liable to duty or VAT

Class of good Period during which form C27 is required
Those affected by an announcement:
– of a new or increased rate of duty
– of an increase in the rate of VAT
– that a temporary exemption from duty is not being renewed
From the time of the announcement until midnight on the day before the change takes effect, or for 6 clear days before the change, whichever is the shorter
Those affected by a seasonal increase in the rate of duty, or a seasonal change from an ad valorem to a specific rate of duty or vice versa (for example, certain fresh fruit)2 6 clear days before the day of increase or change.
Those wholly or partly liable to excise duties (except alcoholic liquor goods and tobacco products) and those on which VAT is to be paid at importation by exempt persons3 6 clear days before Budget Day and up to midnight on the Budget Day itself.
Goods liable to variable charges under EEC Regulation 3033/80 6 clear days before the day of a change in the rate of the fixed or variable charge.
Goods liable to agricultural charges covered by a CAP import licence. 6 clear days before the end of the period of validity of the licence.
Goods eligible for relief under quota. At all times.

A form C27 must also be presented with a declaration for certain goods, subject to countervailing charges under the CAP, during the period indicated in the following table.

Combined Nomenclature Product Period during which form C27 is required
07020010, 07020090 Tomatoes 1 April – 20 December
07051110, 07051190 Cabbage Lettuce 1 November – 31 May
07052900 Endives 15 November – 31 March
07070011, 07070019 Cucumbers 11 February – 10 November
07091000 Artichokes 1 November – 30 June
07093000 Aubergines 1 April – 31 October
07099070 Courgettes 21 April – 30 September
08051011, 08051015, 08051019, 08051021, 08051025, 08051029, 08051031, 08051035, 08051039, 08051041, 08051045, 08051049 Sweet oranges 1 December – 31 May
08052010 Clementines 1 November – End February
08052030 Satumas 1 November – End February
08052050, 08052070, 08052090 Mandarins and other hybrids 1 November – End February
08053010 Lemons 1 June – 31 May
08061011, 08061015, 08061019 Table grapes 21 July – 20 November
08081091, 08081093, 08081097 Apples 1 July – 30 June
08082031, 08082033, 08082035, 08082039 Pears 1 July – 30 April
08091000 Apricots 1 June – 31 July
08093000 Peaches (including nectarines) 11 June – 30 September
08092010, 08092090 Cherries 21 May – 10 August
08094011, 08094019 Plums 11 June – 30 September

When the declaration covers more than one of the above classes the most restrictive period applicable operates.

2.6 Selection of imported goods for examination (including removal to private premises for this purpose)

All imported goods are liable to be examined by customs. If goods are selected for examination, the opening, unpacking and repacking must normally be done by employees of the dock company or an agent of the importer.

The examination of goods normally occurs at the place where they are being declared for importation. However, goods may be removed to private premises for examination subject to customs approval if, for example, they are dangerous or sensitive and need to be unpacked by people familiar with the risks involved. Customs retain the right to require goods to be examined at the place of importation.

Importers who wish to have any goods which are selected for examination removed to private premises for this purpose should consult customs before the goods are imported to prevent delay when the goods arrive. Notice 112A provides information about the charges which will be raised for the attendance of customs officers at private premises. It also gives directions as to how requests for such attendances are to be made.

2.7 Payment of customs duties and other charges

Customs duties and other charges that are due must be paid, deferred or secured before the goods are cleared by customs. The deferred payment of customs duties and other charges is subject to the provision of adequate security and to other conditions (see Notice 101: deferring duty, VAT and other charges). Notice 101 also contains details of the Simplified Import VAT Accounting (SIVA) scheme which allows approved businesses to reduce the security requirement for deferred import VAT.

Customs duties and other charges due for immediate payment are charged to a DTI authorised trader through an account maintained in CHIEF. This accounting procedure is known as the Flexible Accounting System (FAS) and goods will not be cleared from customs control unless the credit balance in the account is enough to cover all the charges due.

When the precise amount of duty or other charges payable cannot be assessed at the time the declaration is presented, clearance can usually be allowed on payment of a deposit or provision of security to cover that element of duty considered to be in dispute. This may be equal to the full duty amount or the difference between 20 potential duty amounts. For non-VAT registered traders, the amount of VAT consequently in dispute must be secured. For VAT registered traders VAT is normally paid outright based on the value which includes the highest potential duty regardless of whether this is secured by cash or cashless security. These traders also have the option to secure the disputed element of VAT.

The following methods of securing revenue charges are available.


All cash deposits will be by Miscellaneous Cash Deposit.

Dependent on the reasons for securing of charges, adjustment of the entry will be carried out by either National Temporary Admission Seat (NTAS) or the NCH.

In the majority of circumstances where there is a need for security, CHIEF is able to identify from other details on the entry, the Reason for Security Code (RFS) which the system will automatically generate after clearance.

The RFS code is an aid to the department for post clearance adjustment and will not appear on the declarants CHIEF screens or paper outputs.

In some circumstances there will be a need to insert a manual RFS code in Box 44. A list of manual RFS codes is in paragraph 3.1.1 under the information to be declared in Box 44.

A. Miscellaneous Cash Deposit (MCD)

MCDs are cash securities held in a suspense account by customs pending confirmation of correct charges/eligibility for refund. Payment of an MCD may be deferred when it is payable at the time of passing the entry.

Form C&E955 or C&E955D, as appropriate, must accompany all MCD entries.

B. Security by guarantee

As an alternative to cash securities, importers have the option of securing charges by the lodgement of a guarantee from an approved bank or financial institution. Such guarantees are available for one entry only, (individual guarantee) or for a number of entries (guarantee account).

i. Individual Guarantee

Blank forms are available from NTAS and the approved guarantee must accompany the entry.

ii. Guarantee account

Blank guarantee forms are available only from NTAS who will also require details of authorised users.

Telephone: 03000 579 0554

The level of the guarantee is to be set to cover the maximum amount of security considered to be necessary. The guarantee level will be monitored by CHIEF. Processing of the entry will be suspended if the guarantee level is insufficient.

Adjustment of MCDs and securities by guarantee

The following list shows the conditions under which goods cleared by securing the revenue in dispute will be controlled by NTAS:

  • evidence of value at the time of presentation of the entry is incomplete or unsatisfactory
  • an instruction authorising acceptance of a provisional value is in force
  • the goods are of a kind allowed to be entered for ‘official test’
  • admission is claimed under intra-EU or preference arrangements but the evidence is incomplete or unsatisfactory
  • exemption is claimed from levy but the evidence is incomplete or unsatisfactory
  • exemption is claimed from Anti-Dumping Duty but the evidence is incomplete or unsatisfactory
  • a quota rate is claimed but evidence is incomplete or unsatisfactory or quota critical procedure has been introduced
  • tariff classification is in dispute (note that this applies to genuine disputes and entries are not acceptable with security if the importer, or their authorised agent, has simply failed to determine and declare the Tariff declaration)
  • specific directions have been issued by a customs headquarters branch allowing entry by security

C. Bonds and undertakings

(i) A bond is an instrument, under seal, by which the person entering into it bind themselves to pay to the Crown specified sums of money on breach of any of the terms mentioned.

Bonds should not be used for securing customs duties and similar EU import duties. This will also include Anti-Dumping Duty and all customs duties on agricultural goods. Alternative methods of security need to be used.

Bonds are classified as follows:

  • Ordinary bonds each covering a specific transaction.
  • General bonds covering a number of transactions of a similar kind, or relating to conditions which are likely to be observed for an indefinite period or during the continuance of a concession; or given by a parent company to cover transactions by that company and associated companies.
  • Premises bond covering both the premises and their contents.
  • Comprehensive bonds covering liabilities under both general and premises bonds.

(ii) An undertaking is an official document, signed by an importer, or an authorised agent, by which they undertake to pay duty and any other charges due on goods imported under duty relief provisions, if there is a breach of any of the conditions of the relief. Undertakings may also be made for the subsequent production of certain documents.

2.8 Diversion of imported goods including part and/or split consignments from one location to the NCH

If, after a declaration has been presented at and all or part of the consignment of goods are diverted solely on account of:

  • unforeseen transport or labour difficulties
  • being short shipped
  • being on carried
  • being imported through a place of discharge and/or examination other than that entered

The goods may be cleared without the need for a new entry at the other location. This concession is subject to the following conditions:

  • after the goods have been landed the application must be made to the NCH where the entry was originally presented
  • the application must be made on form C6, fully completed in duplicate, supported by a copy of the entry and the removal note (if already issued by customs)

During the period between the date of presentation of the entry and the date of importation of the goods there must have been no change in:

  • the value for duty and/or VAT
  • the period rate of exchange except where invoiced in sterling
  • the rate of duty and/or VAT
  • other charges payable on importation or any relief or restriction affecting the goods

Where there have been changes a fresh entry is required.

Goods normally subject to Notice of Arrival (form C27) procedure, for example tariff quota and CAP goods, are not included (these goods are not eligible for C6 diversion procedures).

Minor diversion within the same port

Where a ship is diverted to another wharf in the same port, an application by letter to use and amend the original entry is normally acceptable. A letter of request would also apply to entries where the import vessel has been amended from the entered vessel.

‘No Goods’ Entries

As an alternative to the above procedure a consignee/declarant can request an entry to be made ‘NO GOODS’ at the NCH, supporting invoices will be returned if necessary, and a new entry submitted for the second location if this is more convenient.

Note to container operators

Certain intentional transport arrangements known prior to importation are not covered by these special concessions. An example of such arrangements are mixed consignments of containers entered to one entry, the full loads (FCL) intended for clearance at the port of import and the part loads (LCL) intended for removal to an ICD for clearance. Requests for such arrangements will not be accepted.

Goods diverted to an inventory linked location

When goods are diverted to an inventory linked location, a form C21 (using CPC 00 09 00) will be required.

2.9 Examination of the goods by the consignee or declarant before a declaration is made

When a consignee or their declarant is unable to complete a declaration because they don’t have enough information about the goods they may ask customs at the place of clearance for permission to examine or sample the goods under their supervision.

Whenever sampling is requested (and in some other cases) a written application will be required, signed by the person making the request and containing:

  • the name and address of the applicant
  • the location of the goods
  • all other information necessary to identify the goods

2.10 Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI)

EORI was introduced in the EU on 1 July 2009.

EORI replaced the previous national system Trader Unique Reference Number (TURN). A UK EORI number is prefixed with GB followed by a 9 digit VAT or Non VAT number suffixed by 3 digits normally 000. VAT Group registration numbers will have suffixes higher than 000.

Example EORI number is: GB123456789000.

The EORI number will be required if you are submitting a customs declaration a C88.

Get an EORI number.

Evidence of import VAT is in the form of a monthly VAT certificate, form C79, direct to importers at their VAT registered address. Individual declarations are listed on the certificate under the EORI number.

Consignees must ensure that they pass details of their EORI number to their agent or courier acting on their behalf. The EORI number is used in the production of the VAT certificate C79. Use of incorrect or out of date EORI numbers could lead to a VAT certificate not being issued.

Under the old TURN system it was possible to identify imports/exports and revenue due against individual branches/divisions. Under EU legislation branches and divisions will not qualify for an EORI number. HMRC has designed some solutions to assist economic operators to associate declarations to individual branches/divisions. These are optional.

Option 1

HMRC have set up 2 additional information codes statements (UK Trade Tariff: additional information codes for harmonised declarations) at header level in Box 44 of the SAD (C88) declaration. The codes are:

  • BR followed by a 3 digit numeric code for importers/exporters
  • AG followed by a 3 digit numeric code for agents/declarants

These codes allow identification of the branch importing, exporting or acting as declarants as appropriate for example BR001, AG008 when a customs declaration is made. It is likely the 3 digit numeric code could be the same as the old TURN suffix, however you are free to choose any number you wish. It is acceptable for both codes to appear on the same declaration if necessary.

There are 4 EORI branch code reports available to importers and exporters and agents/declarants as appropriate on a monthly basis. These reports are provided free of charge. They list all entries made where the BR or AG code has been entered in box 44 to assist reconciliation to be carried out, in particular C79s. If no code is entered in the box 44, the entry will not appear on the MSS report.

The 4 reports available will be:

  • BR imports
  • BR exports
  • AG imports
  • AG exports

Information on the reports include entry number, date, EPU, agent’s reference and BR/AG code in box 44.

Import reports will be provided from the 4th working day of the month and export reports will normally be provided from the 19th of the month.

Apply for MSS reports at:

HM Revenue and Customs
Trade Statistical Unit
3rd Floor Central
Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
Southend on Sea
SS99 1AA

Email: frontiersmssteam@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Get full details about the EORI branch code reports including the registration form by reading about the Economic Operator Registration and Identification scheme.

Option 2

This solution applies to importers only and involves including the branch identifier as part of the agent’s reference in box 7 of the SAD (C88) declaration for example TGR12867498/002 or 001— FWAYU561829. Box 7 of the declaration also appears on the C79. The C79 is a form detailing each month all your imports where VAT has been charged. Adding the agent’s identifier to box 7 may help with reconciliation of your imports against branch(es) and may be used in conjunction with or instead of the MSS report option.

Submitting traders/paying agents authorised before 1 April 2009.

If you are submitting trader/paying agent with more than one branch/TURN who:

  • also acts as an agent to submit declarations on behalf of others
  • submits declarations for your own business

The following will apply:

  • you will need to acquire an EORI number for your parent company/head office if your details are required in Box 2, 8 or 14 of the customs declaration
  • however you may continue to use your existing badge/role (to submit declarations) as well as access existing FAS accounts

This concession will not apply to any new badges/roles which are set up on CHIEF after 1st April 2009 which will only be set up against an EORI number.

Applying for an EORI number

The Eori application form is available from the HMRC website www.gov.uk/eori

You can also phone the HMRC helpline on 0300 200 3700.

If you are not VAT registered you can apply for a non VAT EORI number. Once you become VAT registered it is in your own interest to apply for a VAT EORI number by completing another application form.

Only a UK VAT EORI number will generate a C79 VAT certificate which is required to reclaim import VAT paid.

A non VAT EORI number is required if:

  • you wish to enter goods to a public (type A/R) customs warehouse and remove them from there to free circulation or to another customs procedure
  • you are the person removing goods to free circulation or to another customs procedure from a private (type A, D, E or U) customs warehouse

For private importations, GBPR should be entered in Box 8 of the SAD when the ‘goods’ being entered are for Personal use.

There are certain goods that need special treatment.

Motor vehicles – for private importations, goods classified under UK Trade Tariff chapters 8703 and 8711 should be entered using CPC 40 00 074 (‘means of transport permanently imported by private persons on payment of Customs Duty and VAT’). For commercial imports where a VAT registration number is not in existence, a non VAT EORI number should be used.

Firearms – if you are importing firearms classified within the UK Trade Tariff chapter 93 that require a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) licence you should not enter these goods to GB PR, even if they are for private use. BIS require the importer to be in possession of either a non VAT EORI number or an EORI number prior to issuing an import license.

Racehorses – if privately owned and for non-business use, GBPR should be entered. If the horse is owned by a syndicate/other legal entity for business use then an EORI number should be obtained.

Personal effects – for example personal possessions, holiday purchases, human remains – further guidance on relevant forms to be used in specific circumstances is found below.

GBPR has no value limit and therefore should be used for all non-commercial, non-business related entries regardless of value.

2.11 Plain paper declarations

Applications for approval to use plain paper declarations should be submitted at least 1 month before the facility is required, enclosing a plain paper declaration specimen and a removal note (if required) produced by the applicant’s terminal equipment for each of the plain paper versions of DTI entries or declarations that the applicant intends to use.

Approval is subject to the following conditions:

Type Conditions
Paper All versions must be produced on A4 paper or continuous stationery perforated at A4 length, with a minimum weight of 55 grams per square metre. A tolerance of 1/2 inch wider and/or longer than A4 is acceptable.

The paper size and quality will be acceptable if produced within reasonable manufacturer’s tolerances.

Printing All copies of the plain paper declaration must be clearly legible otherwise they may be rejected when lodged at the entry processing unit. Paper should be properly aligned to avoid a page of the declaration overlapping the perforations. Any pages of the declaration which do overlap the perforation will be rejected by customs.
Declaration format The format must be in accordance with the appropriate official form. In particular the following features are required:
– each line should contain 10 characters to the inch and there should be 6 lines to the inch vertically
– the position and length of fields (including plain language fields) should conform
– box numbers must be computer printed onto the plain paper and aligned as shown for easier identification
– box numbers should be made easily distinguishable by printing the box numbers in a type-size half that of the coded data – this is possible for standard dot matrix printers capable of a variety of pre-set type sizes – if daisy wheel printers are used and variable type size is impossible, box numbers should be distinguished by bold (heavier) type, alternatively standard size box numbers may be printed but must then be underlined
– if the space provided for any of the boxes is insufficient, information should be continued on separate worksheets and box(es) endorsed ‘see worksheet attached’ (as part of the software print program)
Data The:
– plain paper declaration should be printed following entry input to, and acceptance by CHIEF
– plain paper declaration as well as meeting requirements for plain language information, should also reproduce the data finally accepted by CHIEF taking into account any errors corrected following initial entry input
– EPU code, entry number (including check digit) and date should be captures automatically from the CHIEF acceptance response and included in the plain paper declaration

Customs changes to printed declaration forms will require corresponding changes to plain paper declaration formats. This will require changes to traders’ plain paper declaration software programs at their own expense for implementation on the required date.

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