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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-100-customs-flexible-accounting-system/notice-100-customs-flexible-accounting-system
1.1 What is this notice about
It is about how to pay for charges due on imported goods by using the immediate payment accounting system known as the Flexible Accounting System or FAS as it is commonly known.
1.2 Who can use FAS
You can only use FAS if you are a Direct Trader Input (DTI) agent, that is, if you process import entries through a computer terminal linked to HMRC Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.
1.3 What is FAS
FAS is an accounting sub-system within CHIEF and can (only) be used by DTI agents who wish to pay for charges due on DTI entries using an immediate payment method.
1.4 How does the FAS account work
The FAS account is used in a similar way to a bank current account, with the exception that there are no charges for using the account, no overdraft facility and no interest to be gained. Your account is identified by a combination of the Entry Processing Unit (EPU) number and your Trader’s Unique Reference Number (TURN) or Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI). You will need to lodge monies (CHIEF credits) to offset against charges due on DTI entries (CHIEF debits) awaiting clearance, that is, those entries that have satisfied all Customs requirements except for accounting.
1.5 Is there a minimum or maximum account balance
No, but your account balance can’t go below zero. The amount of money you deposit in your FAS account to pay entry charges is entirely at your discretion.
1.6 When can I use FAS
You can use FAS whenever you wish to pay for charges due on imported goods by an immediate payment method, or to withdraw funds from your account. FAS can only be used to pay for DTI entries and can’t be used to pay for entries input by HMRC.
1.7 How does using FAS help me
You will be able to control the clearance of your entries against the funds deposited in your account.
You can choose to:
- allocate a specific payment to a specific entry
- maintain a general balance to clear any entry, or use for minor discrepancies between actual payment and the amount charged for a specific entry
Note: the latter is dependent on the over and under payment limits you set within the Amend FAS Owner Details (AFOD) facility.
1.8 What is the purpose of the AFOD facility
This facility serves 3 purposes:
a. It helps you to control the use of the funds you have deposited in your FAS account by maintaining the following details:
- entry limit - the maximum amount that can be used by an entry from the general balance, for example if the charges on your entry are £5,200 and you have set your entry limit at £5,100, your entry won’t not clear from the general balance
- overpayment limit - the maximum amount that may be added to the general FAS balance, when a specific entry payment exceeds the FAS amount required to clear the entry (note that entry-specific funds that exceed the overpayment limit won’t transfer to the general FAS balance, instead, the overpayment amount will be held in reserve until appropriate withdrawal action is taken - see paragraph 6.2)
- also, note that funds that build up in your reserve account are subject to the ‘Duty of Care’ set down in paragraph 3.4 of this notice
- underpayment limit - the maximum amount that can be used from the general FAS balance when a specific payment is insufficient to clear the entry
b. Allows you to maintain your contact details so we are able to get in touch with you if we have a query (for example, regarding payment details). The details you can provide to us are:
- contact name
- phone number
- fax number
- contact email address
Note: it is essential you enter payment parameters and your contact details if you choose to allocate payments to specific entries.
c. Allows you to enter an email address, in a valid format, for the e-delivery of your monthly FAS statement. This may be a different email address from the contact email address provided at (b) above. For further information relating to e-delivery of FAS statements, see paragraph 8.1.
Note - there is no verification or validation undertaken on the email address entered, so make sure the email address entered is correct.
1.9 What charges can I pay using FAS
You can pay import VAT, customs duty, excise duty and other charges due at clearance by immediate payment.
1.10 What other charges may be credited or debited to my FAS account
Post clearance adjustments and Miscellaneous Cash Deposits (MCD) may be credited or debited as appropriate to your FAS account general fund (when considered necessary) by HMRC.
1.11 What is the role of Salford Accounting Centre
While your FAS account is set up and ‘held’ at each of the ports or airports where you are DTI active, Salford Accounting Centre are responsible for the accounting aspects of operating a FAS account, for example, allocating payments into an account and initiating withdrawal requests.
1.12 Should I read any other material
Yes. For further information on FAS and DTI facilities in CHIEF, including accessing the different types of transaction screens on your CHIEF terminal, you should read the following:
- Volume 3 of the Customs Tariff
- CHIEF Import Entry Trade User Guide: Ref USM 210 which can be found on the HMRC website
- CHIEF Accounts Maintenance Trade User Guide: Ref USM 260
- DES 244 - CHIEF Technical Interface Specification - Electronic Data Interchange for FAS statements which can be found on the HMRC website
These guides will also give information on the types of reports available.
2.1 How do I get approval to use FAS
FAS approval is automatic providing you are approved as a DTI agent.
2.2 What will my FAS approval cover
It will cover all FAS transactions processed through the specific ports or airports where you are DTI active.
2.3 What if I import goods through more than one port or airport
You will be automatically allocated a FAS account at each port or airport where you become DTI active.
2.4 Can sub-agents use FAS?
If you are an agent and another agent instructs you to make entry for an importer (perhaps because the other agent doesn’t have an office at the port or airport concerned) you can pay the charges due through your own FAS account. However, you need to be aware that this is a commercial arrangement and any disputes would need to be settled by the parties concerned. This wouldn’t be a matter for HMRC.
2.5 Can my approval be suspended or revoked
Yes. Although we have the facility to inhibit, and ultimately revoke, your approval this will only be necessary if your FAS account is being misused or if entries remain uncleared for an unacceptable length of time.
3. Funding your FAS account
3.1 How do I make payments into my FAS account
To make payments into your FAS account you must first send Salford Accounting Centre a notification of your intention to pay. You do this by accessing the relevant transaction screen Insert Entry Payment Notification - for specific payments (IEPN) or Insert Payment/Withdrawal Notification - for general payments (IPWN) on your CHIEF linked terminal.
You must then present a fully completed C&E 514 FAS Payment Advice, to the Salford Accounting Centre. Both the notification and the Payment Advice are required in order to match the information entered, with the actual payment made and to make sure the correct details are allocated to the correct FAS account.
3.2 What methods of payment are acceptable
3.2.1 Postal payment
Payments may be made by guaranteed cheque (by individual bank endorsement) or bank draft. These should be sent to Salford Accounting Centre with a completed C&E514. The address for the Salford office is:
HM Revenue and Customs
CHIEF Accounting (FAS)
3 Stanley Street
3.2.2 Electronic payment
You may make a payment by Faster Payment, Bacs or CHAPS at your bank counter or via the internet, or telephone banking, to the HMRC FAS bank account at:
Account Name: HMRC FAS
Sort Code: 08-32-00
Account Number: 12000962
In order to allow Salford Accounting Centre to easily identify a particular payment, and make sure the correct details are allocated to the correct FAS account, it is essential that you include a payment reference and use the correct bank account (details above) when making your payment arrangements.
The reference is made up as follows:
- the Entry Processing Unit (EPU) number - a 3-digit code of the port or airport of import
- the Trader’s Unique Reference Number (TURN) or Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) - a 12-digit code identifying whose FAS account the payment is to be allocated to
- the FAS notification reference - this can be up to 6 digits and is generated on completion of the required notification screen (IEPN or IPWN) on CHIEF
- entry number and date (if the payment is for a specific entry) - the entry number is 7 digits (there is no specific format for the entry date)
This reference must also be shown on the C&E514 FAS Payment Advice, and emailed to Salford Accounting Centre, ideally before actual payment is made.
Note: most delays in allocating payments to FAS accounts are caused by the lack of, or an incorrect, reference. It is important to stress to your bank when making payment that the reference must also be transmitted. Equally, if someone else is funding the payment (for example, you are the agent and the payment is being funded by the importer) make sure they are made aware of these referencing requirements.
3.3 Timing considerations when making a payment
It is very important that you take into account postal delays (for payments made by cheque or bank draft) and bank processing times (for payments made electronically) when you are arranging the clearance of goods. This is particularly important if you are importing perishable goods and/or intend to clear goods over the weekend or on a bank holiday.
In order to allocate electronic payments to the correct FAS account, Salford Accounting Centre have to have confirmation that the payment is in the HMRC FAS bank account.
Payment by Bacs normally takes 3 bank working days but you should always check timings with your own bank. Payment by CHAPS is guaranteed same day, but your bank may not immediately transmit the payment to HMRC and it is possible that the payment may not be confirmed until after the public enquiry facility at Salford Accounting Centre has closed for the day. Whenever possible, you should make your payments as early as possible in the day.
How to contact the Salford Accounting Centre
If you have an enquiry telephone: 0300 322 7064 and select option 1.
The phone line is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and is closed on weekends and bank holidays.
Any changes to these times will be notified on the CHIEF Notice Board.
3.4 Duty of care
If you are an importer - if you choose to fund payments to clear goods using FAS, it is the responsibility of your agent as the FAS account owner, to handle these responsibly, for example, to make sure the correct import entry is cleared. It is therefore in your interest to satisfy yourself as to the identity, integrity and reliability of the companies or individuals you employ to act on your behalf. Any disputes are a matter between you and your agent (as the FAS account owner) and not HMRC.
If you are an agent - you have a duty to handle payments funded by a third party responsibly. It is your responsibility to make sure that the correct import entry is cleared. You will find the specific payment facility will help in this respect (IEPN CHIEF screen) and HMRC strongly recommend its use.
Equally, you are responsible for ensuring reimbursement of overpayments to the correct party. Any disputes are a matter between you and your customer and not HMRC.
3.5 Queries about payments
If you wish to know whether your payment has been received and processed, if payment was made electronically, you should first check its status with your bank (that is, have they transferred it to HMRC’s bank account). For all types of payment, you should check CHIEF using format Display FAS Account Details (DFAD) before making enquiries with Salford Accounting Centre. The best method of contact with Salford Accounting Centre is via email to email@example.com.
4. Paying charges through FAS
4.1 How will the funds deposited in my FAS account be used to pay import charges
The charges on entries processed through CHIEF will be offset against the funds deposited. To use your FAS account you must input the appropriate code for FAS payment in the Method of Payment (MOP) box when processing your DTI entry. You should make sure that there are sufficient funds in your account to cover all charges due on the entry so that it can be cleared, otherwise the entry will be held in your FAS suspense account with clearance withheld pending payment of additional funds, or an amendment to the entry.
4.2 Can I match payments against specific entries in FAS
Yes. In order to use this facility, you must notify Salford Accounting Centre that a specific payment is being made, by completing the transaction screen IEPN on your CHIEF linked terminal and make sure the entry reference (EPU, entry number and date) are included on the C&E514 FAS Payment Advice, which must be sent to Salford Accounting Centre.
Whether you choose to match payments, or maintain a general balance, it is important you closely monitor your FAS account through the available interrogation screens (Transaction DFSA - Display FAS Suspense Account and Transaction DFAD - Display FAS Account Details) on your CHIEF linked terminal to help you control the allocation of payments to entries.
Note: it is essential you enter payment parameters and your contact details within the AFOD screen if you choose to allocate payments to specific entries.
4.3 Can I decide whether charges on entries go through my FAS account
Normally yes, by inputting the appropriate MOP code on the import entry. However, where you are attempting to pay import charges through your own deferment account and there is insufficient security in the deferment account to cover the transaction, or the deferment account can’t be operated for any other reason, the charges due on your entry will be automatically posted to your FAS account.
4.4 What if deferment processing fails whilst using an importer’s deferment account
If the deferment input fails, and the deferment account being used isn’t your own, the charges due won’t be automatically posted to your FAS account. In this instance you must inform the importer of the circumstances and, if instructed to make immediate payment, you will need to amend the MOP code to that associated with FAS payment to use your FAS account. Alternatively, you will need to wait until the deferment guarantee limit is sufficient to clear the entry.
4.5 Can I amend the entry from FAS to deferment
Yes. You may wish to amend an entry from FAS to deferment, for example, at the start of a new deferment accounting period. You can do this by using the relevant transaction screen (Transaction AIME - Amend Import Entry) on your CHIEF linked terminal. CHIEF will then re-attempt clearance by deferment.
4.6 What happens if an entry fails both deferment and FAS
If the entry fails both deferment and FAS processing it will be held in your FAS suspense account until you have deposited adequate funds into your FAS account or an amendment to the entry is made. You will be notified of entries held in suspense by an E9 ‘Entry Account Advice’ report produced from CHIEF on your own printer.
An entry in the FAS suspense account won’t automatically revert to deferment even if the guarantee is subsequently increased sufficiently.
4.7 What action do I need to take if I identify an error on an entry post clearance and feel a revenue repayment is due
If you identify an error on an entry post clearance and feel a revenue repayment is due, you should contact:
The National Duty Repayment Centre
St Johns Road
Further details can be found in Notice 199 Imported goods: Customs procedures and Customs debt.
5.1 What is FAS suspense
FAS suspense is a log of entries awaiting clearance within your FAS account. If there are insufficient funds to clear an entry in your FAS account it will be held in suspense until you have deposited adequate funds or an amendment to the entry is made.
5.2 How does the FAS suspense work
Depending on the type of transaction, items will be suspended in 1 of 4 priority groups - 1 being the highest priority and 4 being the lowest. Groups 1 and 4 are for input entries, Groups 2 and 3 are for adjustments.
Within each group, FAS will create a queue of items in chronological order. Entries will be processed according to priority and the availability of funds. All suspended entries will initially be placed in Group 4. However, HMRC are able to re-prioritise entries by promoting them to Group 1 in certain circumstances.
Adjustment transactions input by HMRC will be suspended in Groups 2 and 3 dependant on the type of adjustment being made.
Note: if a specific payment is made to clear an entry in suspense, as soon as IEPN is invoked, the entry ‘disappears’ from suspense, even though at this stage it won’t have actually cleared. It therefore won’t be displayed in Display FAS Suspense Account (DFSA). Instead, the transaction List Payment/Withdrawal Notification (LPWN) can be used to display information on entries set aside for specific payment.
5.3 What are the four suspense groups
Group 1: Priority Entries - HMRC will place entries in this group on your behalf. However, this will only be in exceptional circumstances, normally where hazardous or perishable consignments are involved.
Group 2: Debit Contra Transactions - only available to HMRC. Transactions in this group will derive from the cancellation of a previously posted payment or adjustment credit.
Group 3: Post Clearance Debit Adjustments - again only available to HMRC. Transactions in this group will derive from post clearance demands.
Group 4: Non priority entries - available to both FAS account holder and HMRC, the majority of suspended transactions will be held in this group.
5.4 Can I change the order of entries in the suspense queue
As a FAS account holder, you will have the facility to re-order entries within Group 4 - this is called re-prioritising. In exceptional circumstances, and provided they meet the criteria, you can ask Salford Accounting Centre to promote entries from Group 4 to Group 1. Only Salford Accounting Centre can re-order items within Group 2 and Group 3.
5.5 How do I re-prioritise entries in group 4
You use the relevant CHIEF transaction screen (Transaction Amend FAS Suspense Queue (AFSQ)) on your CHIEF linked terminal to change the order of entries within Group 4. It should be noted that this only applies to entries being paid from the general fund.
Whenever amending your queue you should interrogate all suspense groups. If there is an item in either Group 1, 2 or 3, this will take priority over any item in Group 4. It is best practice to always check that the entries are in the correct order before making payment. Funds should be paid in to match the order of entries in the suspense queue.
Extra care should be taken when presenting multiple payments and form C&E514 to Salford Accounting Centre. The order in which these payments are subsequently credited to your FAS account can affect which entries clear from the suspense queue.
Further information on re-prioritising entries is contained in the CHIEF User Guide: Ref USM 260 which is available from the HMRC website.
6.1 What if I need to make withdrawals from my FAS account?
You will be able to withdraw previously deposited unused funds from your FAS account at any time.
6.2 How do I make withdrawals from my FAS account?
You must give prior notification to Salford Accounting Centre of your intention to withdraw funds from your FAS account. You do this by accessing the relevant transaction screen (Transaction Amend Entry Payment Notification (AEPN) for withdrawal of specific funds or IPWN for withdrawal of general funds) on your CHIEF linked terminal.
Also, all withdrawals must be accompanied by a written request from the owner of the FAS account on company headed paper, signed by an authorised person and sent to the Salford Accounting Centre address at 3.2. These must be originals only, that is, faxes and emails aren’t acceptable.
6.3 What details are required in the request?
The request must state when the monies were originally paid in, what the monies were in respect of, and the reasons for the request for withdrawal. Salford Accounting Centre may also require you to provide them with a print of the committed notification of withdrawal screen. If the request is authorised, and funds are available in your FAS account, you will receive a payment in due course.
6.4 Can anyone else make a withdrawal from my FAS account?
HMRC can use funds in your FAS account to process any post clearance demands (form C18 Post Clearance Demand Note) that may have been issued to you, or to make any debit adjustments that may be necessary where a cleared entry requires amendment.
7.1 Can I interrogate my FAS account
Yes. You are able to interrogate your FAS account through your CHIEF linked terminal, to receive up to date information on entries cleared and balances in your account for the current month and the previous quarter.
7.1.1 Transaction screen DFAD - Display FAS Account Details
This facility allows you to display details of your FAS account (including current balances) with options for displaying particular transactions for a particular calendar day at an EPU.
The transaction can be invoked by downward selection from the FAS account EPU field displayed by other transactions. The transaction displays current details, including balances, with options for further display of:
- all transactions for a particular calendar day
- all transactions relating to an import entry on a particular calendar day
- all payments and withdrawals (including contras) on a particular calendar day
- contact details and entry limits (from AFOD )
- general and reserved balances
- total value of entries in the four suspense groups
The suspense figures are for transactions awaiting general funds and don’t include entries awaiting specific payments. The suspense total for each priority group is displayed so that DFSA can be selected via the field to display details for the priority group.
DFAD also provides a field for selecting LPWN to obtain a list of FAS payment and withdrawal notifications and their status.
7.1.2 Transaction screen DFSA - Display FAS Suspense Account
This facility allows you to display current details of your FAS suspense account.
8.1 Do you provide me with written details of my FAS account?
Yes. A monthly e-statement can be provided if you so wish.
If you have inserted a valid email address in AFOD (see paragraph 1.9) requesting a FAS statement, you will receive one as an attachment in an email.
If you elect not to insert a valid email in this screen, you won’t receive a statement.
8.2 What information is contained on my FAS monthly statements
Your FAS monthly statements will advise of the following:
- summary of trader account
- payments and payment deletions
- withdrawals and withdrawal deletions
- duty adjustment credits and deletion contra debits
- duty adjustment debits and deletion contra credits
- cleared entries
- cleared entries with MCD method of payments
You should keep details of each entry input to the system for use in checking statements.
All FAS accounting queries and enquiries regarding non-receipt of FAS statements should be made in writing to the centralised site at Salford.
8.3 Can I receive this information in other forms
Yes. Your FAS account is also available for interrogation and for print outputs from your own CHIEF linked terminal throughout the current period, using the facilities outlined in section 7. You may consider this as an alternative, or in addition to, your monthly statements.
8.4 Can I get duplicate copies of statements
In exceptional circumstances you may be able to get copies of statements from the Salford Accounting Centre.
You will, however, be able to interrogate transactions processed within the current month and the previous quarter from your own CHIEF linked terminal. See details contained in section 7.
9. Glossary of terms and abbreviations
|Bacs||Bankers Automated Clearing System|
|CHAPS||Clearing House Automated Payments System|
|CHIEF||Customs Handling of Import Export Freight|
|DTI||Direct Trader Input|
|EORI||Economic Operator Registration and Identification|
|EPU||Entry Processing Unit|
|FAS||Flexible Accounting System|
|Immediate payment||Payment methods are guaranteed cheque, bank draft, Faster Payment, Bacs or CHAPS|
|MCD||Miscellaneous Cash Deposit|
|MOP||Method of Payment Code. For FAS payments:>br>
D = Immediate payment debited to cash account (DTI/FAS)
P = Security from agent’s cash account (MCD FAS).
|TURN||Trader’s Unique Reference Number (used prior to EORI)|
If you have a question about VAT, excise or customs duty
If you need general advice or more copies of HMRC notices, please telephone the Excise Helpline.
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