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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-205-official-customs-seals-and-trader-sealing/notice-205-official-customs-seals-and-trader-sealing
This notice cancels and replaces Notice 205 (December 2017). Details of any changes to the previous version can be found in paragraph 1.2 of this notice.
1.1 What this notice is about
This notice explains, in general terms:
- how official customs seals are used and how to recognise them
- how authorised traders can use their own seals in place of official customs seals
1.2 What’s changed
The list of seals in Section 4 has been updated.
1.3 Who should read this notice
This notice is intended for:
- anyone whose work involves the use and inspection of seals applied for customs purposes
- traders who wish to use their own seals in place of official seals
1.4 How to find out whether your goods need sealing
The notices listed below detail the circumstances under which goods must be sealed.
This list is not exhaustive. For further information on the use of seals not covered by these notices, contact our helpline on Telephone: 0300 200 3700.
2. Official customs seals
2.1 What an official customs seal is
This is an indicative seal that a customs officer may apply to identify goods under customs control. It may be applied in addition to a trader’s commercial seal. If, in the UK, you receive goods secured by an official customs seal you must inform your local HMRC control office as soon as they arrive. Unless you’re an authorised consignee you must not remove an official seal without prior approval from customs. Interference with, or unauthorised breakage or removal of, an official seal is an offence under Customs and European Union law. It’s important therefore that you’re able to recognise these seals.
2.2 How to recognise an official customs seal
In the UK there are 2 types of official customs seal currently in use.
2.2.1 Acme ‘T’ lock
It consists of a metal strip inserted into a flat locking box. The metal strip is 230 millimetres (mm) long.
This seal can show either ‘HMC&E’ or ‘HMRC’.
The current version bears certain identification marks and a unique serial number. The underside of the box is in ‘British Racing’ green.
ACME ‘T’ lock seal
The ACME ‘T’ lock ‘HMRC’ version was introduced by HMRC on 1 July 2008.
These seals were introduced to reflect the change of name of the department and are being used concurrently with the seals shown in paragraph 2.2.1. Until the old version is withdrawn, you may encounter both designs.
The underside of the box is steel in colour.
2.2.2 Leghorn cableseal wire seal
The body consists of painted aluminium. It bears the words ‘Customs GB’ and a serial number. The cable is made of steel wire, 1mm in diameter and 180mm long.
2.3 What you should do if you discover that an official customs seal has been tampered with or broken
If you discover that an official seal has been tampered with or broken you must notify customs immediately.
|If the breakage is found on…||then you should…|
|your own premises||report the facts to your local control office|
|a vehicle or container in which you’re carrying goods under customs control||report to customs at your destination as soon as you arrive there|
|a vehicle or container and: there’s also extensive damage to the vehicle or container and/or the goods||report to your nearest customs office at once|
In all cases, the customs officer may ask you to explain how any seal breakage and damage occurred. In all cases of unauthorised seal breakage you must obtain a customs officer’s permission before you remove or unload the goods originally secured by that seal.
2.4 What you must do if an accident or other incident occurs during the transport of the goods
An accident or other unforeseen incident that occurs during a transit operation must be brought to the attention of customs at the first opportunity. Wherever possible, prior authorisation must be obtained from customs if seals have to be broken or the goods need to be transferred from one vehicle to another. An account of the incident must be noted on the transit declaration, and the goods and the declaration must be presented to the nearest customs authority. When customs are content that the operation may continue they will reseal the goods and endorse the declaration accordingly.
3. Trader sealing
3.1 What trader sealing is
3.1.1 Use of ‘special seals’
Under certain conditions, you may be authorised to use your own seals in place of official customs seals for securing goods under customs control. For details of how to use these seals, see the relevant notices listed in paragraph 1.4.
If you wish to be authorised to use your own seals, you may apply to the CCTO National Simplifications Team:
HM Revenue and Customs
National Simplifications Team
Telephone: 03000 575982
The CCTO will send an application form for you to complete and return, together with all relevant supporting evidence. If an application is rejected the CCTO will send a pre-notification Right to be Heard letter to the applicant stating the reasons why.
Where seals are used in this way, it’s an offence to remove them unless you:
- are authorised to do so by HMRC
- have evidence that the goods under seal have cleared customs control - for example, a removal note
3.1.2 Regulation 952/13 and Transitional Arrangements
The new Union Customs Code (UCC) came into force on 1 May 2016. After that date, businesses wishing to use their own seals are required to apply to us for authorisation under Article 233(4)(c) of Regulation 952/13. You’ll have to meet the conditions of Articles 39(a), (b), and (d). Traders who are approved as Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) are deemed to meet those requirements.
If you’re already authorised to use ‘special seals’ under paragraph 3.1.1, you’ll have to apply to be re-assessed under the new conditions by 1 May 2019 at the latest.
Regulation 952/13 has introduced the requirement that, for containerised transports, seals with high-security features are shall be used to the widest possible extent.
The UCC delegated act also stipulates that customs should accept seals approved by other member states unless they specifically state otherwise.
3.2 Acceptable trader seals
3.2.1 International standards
The new seal requirements are set out in Article 301 of the UCC Implementing Regulation (2015/2447). These requirements are assumed to be met by any seal that conforms to the International Standard No 17712: 2013 ‘Freight containers - Mechanical Seals’. Those seals shall be deemed to fulfil the requirements of paragraph 3.3 and paragraph 3.4.
3.2.2 UK standards
The types of trader seal that we accept for control purposes fall into the following categories:
|1||Seals that can withstand a force of 1,000kg (security seals)|
|2||Seals that can withstand a force of 250kg (indicative seals)|
|3||Other acceptable seals|
|Bar box group||Seals used to secure aircraft bar boxes|
We maintain a list of acceptable seals in groups 1, 2 and 3 which is shown in Section 4.
Trader seals must comply with the characteristics and technical specifications set out below to be acceptable to us.
3.3 Essential characteristics
The seals must:
- remain intact and securely fastened in normal use
- be easy to check and recognise
- be manufactured so that any breakage or removal leaves traces visible to the naked eye
- be designed for single use, or if intended for multiple use, be so designed that they can be given a clear, individual identification mark each time they are re-used
- bear an individual identification mark, on the basis of which customs can identify the person concerned - the mark must be uniquely numbered
3.4 Technical specifications
The seals should have the following specifications:
- form and dimensions of the seals can vary depending on the method of sealing used but the dimensions must be such as to ensure that identification marks are easy to read
- identification marks of seals must be impossible to falsify and difficult to reproduce
- material used must be resistant to accidental breakage and prevent undetectable falsification or re-use
For information on how seals manufacturers may apply for acceptance of their products, contact:
Security Seal Testing Authority
90 Fenchurch Street
3.5 Conditions of use of acceptable trader seals
If you’re authorised to use your own seals in place of official customs seals, you must meet the following conditions:
|1||Your seals must each bear a permanent unique identifying mark, be serially numbered and used in sequence|
|2||You must keep all seals and sealing equipment under lock, with the key being held by a responsible person of your company|
|3||You must keep a permanent stock record showing the receipt, serial numbers, use and disposal of seals, which must be produced to a customs officer on request|
|4||You must regularly inspect and balance your seal stocks to guard against interference or substitution|
|5||All defective seals, and seals you remove after use, must be kept available for inspection by customs, with whom you must agree a method for their disposal|
|6||The marks and numbers of the seals used must be clearly shown on documents accompanying the goods|
|7||Seals may be applied or removed only by you or by responsible employees authorised by you to act for you|
It has come to our attention that counterfeit trader seals are available. We strongly suggest you to use legitimate manufacturers seals, for example, those on the list at Section 4.
4. Seals acceptable to HMRC as at 20 July 2018
4.1 Group 1: seals that can withstand a force of 1,000kg
Acme Bolt Seal
Mega Fortris 5mm Plastic Covered Maxi Cable Lock Seal
Mega Fortris Klicker 2K
Mega Fortis Cable Lock 350
Mega Fortris Cable Lock 350/500
Mega Fortris Container Bolt Lock
Mega Fortris Klicker Bolt Seal
Mega Fortris MCLZ 350
Tydenbrooks Flexsecure FS35
Tydenbrooks Flexsecure FS50
Unisto Hi-Genius Bolt Seal
Unisto Ferrolock Anti Spin
4.2 Group 2: seals that can withstand a force of 250kg
Mega Fortris Cable Seal MCLZ 250
Mega Fortris Cable Lock 250
Mega Fortris Cable Breakaway 250
Mega Fortris Cable Breakaway 500
Mega Fortris Mega Lock
Mega Fortris – MCLS 150
Mega Fortris Mini Cable Lock Premium 2k
Mega Fortris Mini Cable Lock Premium MCLP 150
Mega Fortris Mini Cable Lock Premium MCLP 180
Tydenbrooks EZloc 1 / 8 “
Tydenbrooks Ezloc 1/ 16”
Unisto Ferrolock Standard
4.3 Group 3: other acceptable seals
Acme “T” Seal
Mega Fortris Domino Metal Strip Seal
Mega Fortris Mega Twister SP
Olimp SRL Meterlock
Your rights and obligations
Read Your Charter to find out what you can expect from HMRC and what we expect from you.
Comments or suggestions
If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this notice, you can write to:
HM Revenue and Customs
10th Floor Central
21 Victoria Avenue
Southend on Sea
This address is not for general enquiries.
For your general enquiries, phone our helpline on Telephone: 0300 200 3700.
Putting things right
If you’re unhappy with our service, contact the person or office you have been dealing with. They will try to put things right. If you’re still unhappy, they will tell you how to complain.
If you want to know more about making a complaint, read Complain to HMRC.
How we use your information
HMRC is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. We hold information for the purposes specified in our notification to the Information Commissioner, including the assessment and collection of tax and duties, the payment of benefits and the prevention and detection of crime, and may use this information for any of them.
We may get information about you from others, or we may give information to them. If we do, it will only be as the law permits to:
- check the accuracy of information
- prevent or detect crime
- protect public funds
We may check information we receive about you with what is already in our records. This can include information provided by you, as well as by others, such as other government departments or agencies and overseas tax and customs authorities. We will not give information to anyone outside HMRC unless the law permits us to do so.