Customs Clearance FAQs - UK & EU Frequently Asked Questions

All you need to know about Customs Clerance between the UK & EU. Helpful tips & info from experienced customs agents in Dover. Your questions answered here!

Customs agents offer a professional processing service between an importer / exporter and HM Customs & Excise. A customs agent is an expert at filing declarations accurately in the format required to expedite customs clearance efficiently through border control. Our team of experienced customs brokers are ready to help you with your customs clearance declarations now!

If you plan to bring goods from outside the UK into the UK or would like to send UK based goods abroad then these items will require accompanying documents. These are needed to be presented to the customs authorities at a border. The term customs clearance refers to this process, meaning these goods have passed all required procedures, any taxes or duties had been accounted for, and will have “cleared” customs.

You will be required to provide a commercial invoice, packing list, transport document known as a Bill of Lading / CMR. You will also need to ensure the fore mentioned documents contain freight rate, commodity codes & country of origin. If you need any assistance with any of these just give us a call and we can help 01227 722 247.

In the UK, for import a C88 (Single Administrative Document (SAD)) or for export an MRN are the returned documents that a customs agent will receive once a customs declaration has been submitted. These show the acceptance of a live declaration. Route dependent, providing all the required conditions have been met, the goods will then be cleared. For import, these will include payment (or deferment) of import duty and VAT. In addition, any customs examinations and port health checks have been successfully completed and subsequently cleared (usually for plant or animal-based products, also called SPS goods). For Export, customs will check that the carrier has tied a DUCR to the export manifest.

If your goods are passing through a UK border you will require custom clearance processing. Don’t risk it. It is very important to be aware that all goods entering or leaving the UK via a road, tunnel, airport or seaport will need customs clearance. Please be aware that customs have the power to seize goods and the vehicle they travelled in as part of any border investigation. We can complete UK customs declarations at the following Seaports

  • Any UK port including Felixstowe
  • London Gateway and Purfleet
  • Southampton
  • Grangemouth
  • Tilbury
  • Thames Port
  • Dover
  • Greenock
  • Sheerness
  • EuroTunnel Folkestone

Yes absolutely. However, if your business is not VAT registered it will not be able to reclaim the VAT paid on imports. Non-VAT registered businesses can still apply for an EORI number, and it is possible to reclaim any VAT paid should you choose to register for VAT later in the same tax year.

Only if you are a VAT registered business in the UK. You will also need to have an authorized GB prefixed EORI number. The EORI number is a declaration code that your company uses to identify as an importer of record & this intern allows you to reclaim the import VAT via a C79 certificate.

Yes, if you want to save time and money on your clearance of goods! But it’s not a requirement. The value of using a customs clearance agent is the expertise of getting your documents accurately filed and fast. The last thing you want is for your goods to go into unnecessary inspections because something simple was missed. This can be very, very costly indeed.

A commodity code is a code that is used as an international product identifier. Almost all countries in the world use this system for border control. Everything has a commodity code. This code will determine the tariffs to be applied for duty & tax (VAT in the UK), also highlight if licenses and or additional health and border checks are required. Correct commodity codes are very important and must be accurate. Do not risk using incorrect commodity codes to avoid paying more tax or evading border checks as this is illegal. You can view the tariff finder here, however HMRC can give you advice if you are unsure.

The commodity code of your items will determine the rate of duty to be paid. This will be calculated during the customs clearance process and is done so based on the value of your goods, your selected INCOTERM, and origin of the goods (which is where the goods were originally manufactured). In the UK the VAT is charged at 20% at the standard rate, however some commodity codes have reduced rates of 5% or 0%. If you think you may qualify for relief, we advise checking the tariff that applies to your commodity code regards any VAT relief being considered.

The quickest and most cost efficient to the Customs Duty is via your own deferment account, as for the VAT using the PVA (postponed VAT accounting is the fastest and cheapest method – most VAT registered businesses in the UK are allowed to use PVA, please talk to your accountant if you’re unsure)

If you haven’t got your own deferment account or can’t use PVA then you can normally use agent’s account. We can allow payments via our account if you have not got your own.

Depending on Incoterm used, but generally at any time a shipment leaves a customs authorized area or facility or before it crosses a customs border.

If importing goods into the UK there are only specific procedures that allow for the items to enter without the payment of Duty & Tax. These include but are not limited to:

  • Movement in transit where the destination is not the UK
  • Goods are due to be re-exported known as inward processing relief or temporary admission.
  • Goods that were originally exported from the UK and are now returning.

Proof is required and authorization when applicable.

When exporting goods, it is not usual for you to pay Duty & Tax (depending on Incoterms used). A transit document may be required to prevent a tax demand at the first country on entry after leaving the UK, where that country is not the destination.

Depending on the type of customs clearance, a Duty & Tax Suspension can be declared 2 ways.

  1. A CPC (Customs Procedure Code) is used to show a movement is non-taxable. HMRC requires this on every customs declaration indicating the need for the suspension. This could apply to returned goods, inward processing relief, bonded warehousing or other unique CPCs for procedures involving duty & vat suspension.
  2. C88 tax line declaration. This uses a commodity code and license declaration to highlight that there is a unique VAT or Duty suspension applied to the code.

We have a whole page dedicated to this topic here and we can certainly help you with this. In brief, if you are importing your goods into the UK, you will need a TOR1 form (you will need to obtain this from HMRC before your departure) , proof of your address and that you have owned the goods for over 6 months prior to the movement. This only applies for goods coming from the EU to the UK. If you are leaving the UK, you will need to sign non-cession form and declare your movement to EU customs, which we can do for you. If you fail to do this, you could end up having to pay tax, be fined, and to bring your items back to the UK, so it is worth speaking to us before arranging your move.

All your documentation submitted on your behalf to HMRC will be copied and forwarded to you. If you also require help with the delivery of your goods, we also offer haulage and freight forwarding. Find out more here.

If you have any doubts about your goods, please contact us straight away on 01227 722 247. If you think you may have restricted goods it is always best to check prior to shipment. A great resource is the website and have provided a handy link to their restricted goods guidance here.

Some foodstuffs will require additional information to be submitted to port health for clearance. Many foodstuffs are permitted for importation when all the required documentation accompanies the movement. All importers are obligated to ensure that ALL documents are complete before a shipment is booked.

This depends on Incoterms, but it will never be the carrier. It is either exporter, importer or both! First things first, there are always two customs processes that need to be completed for every movement; export and import declarations – these are two separate declarations can be completed by one or both traders. Possibly the best choice is for the exporter to arrange export declaration and importer to arrange import declaration.

Both exporter and importer can of course delegate this task to an agent (some carriers, like Salvatori, are also the agents at the same time).

It is always the importer that is responsible for taxes and duties. If the exporter decides to “act as an importer“ for the movement, they will then be responsible for tax and duty.

It can sometimes happen that carriers will not stop at customs office or designated area and deliver the goods prior to customs formalities being completed. In these cases, it is always the importer that is responsible before customs. Hence it is very important for the importers to engage into the process and only use trusted and professional carriers for clearing goods through customs.

Yes, if you will be able to prove the export. For this reason, exports should always engage into the process and only use trusted and professional carriers. If you leave the export formalities to your buyer (which may or may not be the importer) you run the risk of no proof of export being available. HMRC may challenge your 0% VAT which could lead to issues and fines.

It is the haulier or carrier that is responsible for GMR, however they will need an export or import declaration to be handed to them first, for them to be able to obtain GMR. If you struggle with this step, please ask us for help, we can complete GMR’s both ways export and import.

Transit Accompanied Document (T1 being most popular) is a document that allows deferral of customs procedures on Import. This is used to transit through different countries without having to stop at customs offices, on the way to a final destination. Just imagine you are shipping to Greece via road, you will have many countries to cross on the way, from France, through Italy and then to Greece. A T1 customs clearance will allow you to enter and transit France and Italy without having to custom clear your goods there. In the EU, you can however choose to clear your goods at “first point of entry”. So, in this case, you could custom clear your goods in Calais, France, and then be able to go to Greece (or any other EU country) without worrying about customs procedures anymore – in this case you would not need TAD (T1).

Although we are a Dover clearance agent & are very close to Dover Port, we can help anyone in the UK or internationally with their customs and clearance. Our digital customs clearance portal allows documentation to be processed anywhere, anytime. Or we offer our real customs handling agents during working hours if required.