How road transport companies and their drivers must secure their vehicles to stop people using them to enter the UK illegally, and to avoid being fined.
Owners, drivers, hirers and operators must secure their vehicles to prevent unauthorised access by clandestine entrants. Otherwise, you could receive a fine under the UK’s clandestine entrant civil penalty scheme.
Clandestine entrants may seek to enter the UK in different ways, such as by attempting to pass through UK border controls while concealed in a vehicle or detached trailer. This includes UK immigration controls based at juxtaposed locations in northern France.
If you are found carrying a clandestine entrant, even if you are a tourist, you could get a fine. You may face a fine of up to £10,000 for each clandestine entrant you carry.
If you are driving a goods vehicle, and it is not adequately secured you could also get a fine, even if no clandestine entrant is found. You may face a fine of up to £6,000 if you drive a goods vehicle that is not adequately secured. This applies whether you are entering or departing the UK.
A vehicle’s owner, hirer or driver can be fined. For detached trailers, a vehicle’s owner, hirer or operator can be fined. Companies may be liable for fines imposed on their drivers.
This page contains information and guidance about the penalty scheme.
The law which establishes the penalty scheme can be found at Part II of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
Further legal requirements, including the security standards we expect owners, operators, hirers and operators to adhere to when securing a vehicle, can be found in the Carriers’ Liability Regulations 2002 and the Carriers Liability (Amendment) Regulations 2023.
How to comply with the UK law
We have published a leaflet on preventing clandestine entrants in English and other languages as well as specific guidance on securing your vehicle. These explain the steps drivers need to take to secure and check their vehicle, and to record the steps they have taken.
We have also published a checklist which drivers of goods vehicles can use to record the checks that they have made. This will be made available in other languages.
If you suspect someone is hiding in your vehicle
You should not approach anyone hiding in a vehicle. You should contact the local police, port security or inform Border Force.
You must not go through UK border control, or board transport to the UK, if you suspect there is someone hiding in your vehicle.
If you are stopped by Border Force
You may be interviewed about your journey, the checks you have made to secure your vehicle and any records you have of those checks. You may also be interviewed about any security devices you are using.
Your information will be used to help decide who will be fined and by how much. You can refuse to be interviewed and leave at any stage, but if you do not answer our questions, this could mean we have incomplete information when deciding who to fine and how much to fine them.
What happens after you are stopped
The legal requirements are set out in the Carriers Liability Regulations 2002 (as amended).
You should also read ‘Guidance on preventing clandestine entry’ - a downloadable leaflet available in English and other languages.
You can also use the new vehicle security checklist to help you show that you have complied with the legal requirements. This is also available in English and other languages.
If someone has gained unauthorised access to your vehicle or you suspect someone has gained unauthorised access to your vehicle you should report this to the police in the country where this happened, before you reach immigration control, where it is reasonable to do so.
If it is not reasonable to report this to the police, you should report this to an immigration officer at immigration control outside of the UK as soon as possible
At UK border control
You must not go through UK border control, or board transport to the UK, if you know or suspect that there is someone hiding in the vehicle you’re driving. You must report your suspicions to an immigration officer.
If you find signs of damage to your vehicle or signs of tampering or damage to any of its security devices, which you think may have been caused by a person gaining or attempting to gain access to your vehicle, you should report this to an immigration officer.
You shouldn’t approach anyone hiding in a vehicle. You should stay in the cab of the vehicle and contact the local police.
The police will take your details and your company’s details, and tell Border Force about the clandestine entrants.
It is important that you keep accurate records of the measures you have taken to ensure that you have secured your vehicle effectively.
You may be interviewed about the security devices and how they are meeting the new requirements if the vehicle is not properly secured, or if clandestine entrants are found in your vehicle at UK border control.
You can refuse to be interviewed and leave at any stage, but it’s in your interest to give as much information as you can. Your company and the vehicle’s owner or hirer may also be asked for information.
You and your company may get letters from the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Team, which is part of Border Force, asking for more information about what happened. You might also be asked for information about your actions and those of your company before and during the vehicle’s journey.
Your information will be used to help decide who will be fined and by how much. For guidance on how this is decided, read Level of penalty: code of practice.
Again, your information will be used to help decide who will be fined and by how much. If you do not answer our questions, this could again mean we have incomplete information when deciding who to fine and how much to fine them.
If you get a fine
You will get a form (form IS11) showing the amount of the fine. You must pay it within 60 days of the form’s issue date.
When your fine may be reduced
If you are fined, you may be eligible for a reduction, as set out in our Level of penalty: code of practice. Circumstances in which you could be eligible for a reduction include where you have complied with our security regulations and where you are member of our Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme. You may also be eligible for means testing.
Object to a fine
You have the right to object to a fine. You must do this within 28 days. Your form IS11 explains how to object.
You can also read the guidance on objections and appeals.
Appeal against a fine
You have the right to appeal against a fine to a country court. You must do this within 28 days of:
the issue date on your form IS11 if you did not object to the fine
the date your objection is decided if you objected to the fine
Use form N161 to appeal. It includes guidance notes.
How to pay your fine
You can read the guidance notes on how to pay your fine.
If your vehicle is detained
If your vehicle is detained, you should email the clandestine entrant civil penalty team straight away.
Your vehicle will only be released when all outstanding fines have been paid, plus the costs of the detention.
You can reduce your fines by complying with the Carriers Liability Regulations 2002 (as amended). Additionally, you can join the clandestine entrant civil penalty accreditation scheme to help reduce your fines. Further details are in our new level of penalty: code of practice.
The civil penalty accreditation scheme is being relaunched. Existing members will be notified when the changes take effect. Membership will transfer from the existing scheme to the new scheme. In the meantime, companies can still apply to the scheme using the existing application form.
Civil penalty accreditation scheme
Our civil penalty accreditation scheme works with companies to promote best practice in preventing clandestine entrants from gaining unauthorised access to vehicles. To qualify for membership, your company must have an effective security system for your vehicles. You must also make sure the system is used properly. This includes training and checking drivers.
You can apply for the accreditation scheme using the application form. Foreign companies can also apply to the scheme.
We are planning to relaunch the accreditation scheme in 2023.
Companies in the scheme must continue to meet all the requirements to reduce any fines.
Contact the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Team
You can contact the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Team to get more information about fines and the civil penalty accreditation scheme.
Clandestine Entrants Civil Penalty Team
Border Force South East
Ground Floor, Martello House
Shearway Business Park
Telephone: 0044 (0)3000 710104
Lines are open 7am to 6.30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).