Apply to pay less duty on goods you export to process or repair 

When you export goods outside the UK for processing or repair and then re-import them, you can use outward processing to reduce your duty payments.

From 1 October 2022, you will not be able to make import declarations on the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system. 

If you import goods, you need to use the Customs Declaration Service. It can take time for your businesses to complete the move and the sooner you start the easier it will be. 

If you already make import declarations using CHIEF, we have transferred your existing customs authorisations to the Customs Declaration Service. You do not need to apply for a new authorisation to use the Customs Declaration Service if you already hold an active authorisation. This means:

  • to make declarations on Customs Declaration Service, use the reference number we have given you
  • your existing authorisation letter remains valid

Find out more information about the Customs Declaration Service.

If you’re authorised to use outward processing, you can get customs duty and import VAT reduced on goods that you both:

  • export from outside the UK for process or repair
  • re-import to the UK

Who can apply

You can apply for an outward processing authorisation if you are established in the UK. You do not have to own the goods that are exported, and you do not have to be the person re-importing them. Another person can do that if they have your permission.

You must also:

  • be financially solvent
  • have a good history of compliance with customs requirements
  • have (or be able to keep) appropriate records

You cannot apply if you’re a:

  • freight forwarder
  • fast parcel operator
  • customs agent

What goods you cannot get relief on

You cannot use outward processing for any of the following:

  • where the export results in a repayment or remission of import duty
  • the goods were, prior to export, released to free circulation at an end-use rate but the goods have not been put to an Authorised Use (other than repair)
  • goods where their export results in an export refund
  • where any other financial advantage under UK Agricultural Policy is obtained by the export of the goods

Before you apply

Before you start the application process, you will need to:

You will also need to have the following information:

  • your EORI number
  • details of where your records are or will be held
  • how the goods will be sent out (for example by export or post)
  • where the goods will be exported from
  • whether you will be using simplified declarations or not
  • details of any guarantees (if applicable)
  • how long the goods are going to be out of the UK
  • details of the goods being sent for processing (commodity codes, description, value)
  • the amount of goods you are going to export
  • details of the process to be carried out

You will also need to show the quantity of goods to be re-imported (rate of yield). The rate of yield shows how may products result from the amount of goods exported.

For example:

  • if goods are sent for repair, the rate of yield will be 1:1
  • if 500 yards of material are exported to manufacture 100 dresses, the rate of yield will be 5:1

How to get an authorisation

There are 4 types of authorisation you can get to use outward processing:

  • full
  • retrospective
  • by declaration
  • an authorisation covering Northern Ireland and the EU

Full authorisation

You’ll need a full authorisation if you want to use outward processing regularly.

You should apply at least 30 days before you start exporting.

You’ll need to sign in to apply online for authorisation. If you do not already have sign in details, you’ll be able to create them.

If you cannot do this online, you can use the outward processing print and post form.

If you are applying for authorisation in Northern Ireland and Great Britain you will need to fill the form out separately for each.

Retrospective authorisation

You can ask for an authorisation after you have exported the goods. This is called a retrospective authorisation. You can only apply for it once every 3 years.

You’ll need to show us records to prove that:

  • the goods are eligible
  • you have a business need
  • you have followed the outward processing procedure correctly
  • there are reasonable grounds that stopped you from getting prior authorisation — a lack of knowledge alone does not qualify as reasonable grounds

The maximum period for a retrospective authorisation is 12 months before the date you apply on. Where the goods are sensitive, the maximum period is 3 months.

If you’re asking to retrospectively renew an expired authorisation, a retrospective authorisation can be backdated to the date the previous authorisation expired. If we grant the authorisation, you’ll have to amend your declarations and update your records.

You’ll need to sign in to apply online for authorisation. If you do not already have sign in details, you’ll be able to create them.

If you cannot do this online, you can use the outward processing print and post form.

Authorisation by declaration

This is where we authorise you when we accept your export declaration at the border.

You can only use this type of authorisation when you’re sending goods outside the UK for repair.

You can only use this type of authorisation up to 3 times in a rolling year.

You cannot use this type of authorisation if:

If you’re a private individual sending your own goods for repair overseas you can follow this process. It might cost more than the tax owed, so you should check with your carrier before sending your goods.

Authorisations covering Northern Ireland and the EU

If you carry out work on your goods over sites in both Northern Ireland and the EU, you can get a single authorisation rather than having one for each site.

You need to apply for this type of authorisation by emailing

We’ll need your:

  • name
  • contact email address
  • address of your Northern Ireland operation
  • EORI number starting XI

We’ll reply within 5 days and provide a link to the EU Customs Trader Portal where you can access the application form.

If your application is successful then, whenever you use your inward processing or outward processing authorisation, you will need to submit a standardised exchange of information using the EU Customs Trader Portal.

After you apply

When we authorise you, you’ll get a letter that sets out the authorisation conditions.

Conditions include things like:

  • paying customs duty and other charges
  • keeping detailed records

You should write to the address on your letter if you want your authorisation to be:

  • amended
  • renewed
  • cancelled

Find out what to do when your goods have been processed or repaired.

If your information changes after you’ve applied

We may need to contact you after you apply. This could be to request additional information or to organise a site visit.

If any of your contact details change (for example, your address or telephone number) you must let us know by email or by writing to the address on the acknowledgement letter we sent you.

We may delay or refuse your application if you do not provide all the information we need to complete it.

You should also write to us if there has been a change to your business which may affect your authorisation, such as:

  • changing your trading name
  • being taken over by another business

Other ways to pay less duty or import VAT

Find out more information about other ways to:

Updates to this page

Published 20 August 2020
Last updated 20 April 2023 + show all updates
  1. Information about the reasonable grounds for getting a retrospective authorisation and how you should amend your declarations and update your records has been added.

  2. Information about what to do if your contact details change after you've applied has been added.

  3. Information about not being able to make import declarations on the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system from 1 October 2022 has been added.

  4. Updated the links to the outward processing print and post form which you should use when applying for full authorisation and retrospective authorisation

  5. This page has been updated because the Brexit transition period has ended.

  6. This page has been updated with information about multi state authorisations in Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.

  7. An online form has been added.

  8. First published.

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