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Importers - take Action NOW to remain compliant

Where goods have been imported without a declaration these goods have been imported non-compliantly and civil penalties could be charged where HMRC considers it appropriate. Additionally, depending on the goods imported, there may be a liability for both import VAT and import or excise duty.

This non-compliance cannot be legally solved by submitting a retrospective declaration.

However, importers or their agents have two options (the second option is available if the first cannot be used).

Although neither of these options will constitute a legal import declaration (it will be a non-statutory declaration), it will allow the importer to settle any outstanding liabilities, which will be a significant factor in HMRC’s decision as to whether a civil penalty will be charged.

Option 1: submit a full import declaration for the free-circulation procedure as soon as possible

Goods have been imported non-compliantly, so it will not be possible to defer any liabilities to import duties by declaring the goods into a custom’s special procedure. You should submit this full non-statutory import declaration within one calendar month (subject to the additional conditions set out below) of the goods being imported into the UK. If you are already in this situation at the time of this publication you have until 6th August.

As the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight service (CHIEF) and the Customs Declaration Service cannot accept retrospective declarations, the date of submission of this non-statutory declaration will be the date for which any tax or duties due on imports will be calculated. To ensure that the right amount of any tax or duties due on imports is charged, you should:

  1. Check to see if the HMRC exchange rates have changed in the period between the actual date of import and the date of declaration (the intervening period). If exchange rates have changed you must convert any non-Sterling values at the exchange rate at the date of actual import.

  2. Check to see if the rate of any tax or duties due on imports has changed using the Trade Tariff tool. If the rate has not changed the full import declaration can be submitted.

If a full import declaration cannot be submitted (for example the one-month deadline has elapsed, or the rate of any tax or duties due on imports has changed) then you will need to use option 2.

Option 2: submit a supplementary declaration to HMRC as soon as possible showing the correct date of import

This requires the importer to be authorised for simplified declarations for imports or to appoint an agent who is so authorised.

If you’re already authorised for simplified declarations for imports or already have someone dealing with customs for you, you’re expected to make this non-statutory supplementary import declaration as soon as possible.

If you do not have authorisation to use simplified declarations for imports, you’re expected to get someone to deal with customs for you or get an authorisation as soon as possible after you become aware of the need to make the declaration. We expect that this should take no longer than four months. You will need to retain evidence of the steps you’re taking to pay your outstanding liabilities in case those goods movements are subject to compliance checks in the period before the supplementary import declaration is made.

This approach can also be used to declare goods to free circulation in a case where a transit movement has not been correctly closed. Submission of the non-statutory declaration can be used as evidence that the correct duties have been paid for these movements which should help get the movements discharged in the country of origin. They will not, however, ‘retrospectively’ close the transit movement - so these movements will still go into the transit enquiry process.

Finally, as goods have been imported non-compliantly, it is not possible for VAT registered importers to use postponed VAT accounting to account for import VAT on their VAT Return. You will therefore need to pay your import VAT when the non-statutory declaration is submitted.

Need help completing your customs declarations?

Source: HMRC

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