Exporting Common Agricultural Policy goods
How to export food and agriculture products covered by CAP: export licences, duty, export quotas and relief from CAP charges.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) uses a system of refunds and levies to maintain pricing levels and availability. If you want to export or import licensable goods or claim refunds you must be registered with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), which manages the CAP schemes.
This guide shows you whether you require a licence to export your goods, how to obtain one and how to manage the export process, including claiming refunds and paying levies.
If you are moving goods to or from the UK then you need to Classify imports and exports using the UK Integrated Tariff.
Common Agricultural Policy export licences
There’s a wide variety of goods covered by specific CAP schemes. Each has its own specific requirements for licensing and management of refunds and levies. You should check what the export licence requirements are with the RPA before exporting any of the following products:
- dairy products
- live animals
- fresh or processed meat (including edible offal)
- sugar, syrup, molasses and honey
- cereals and rice (including milled products, starch, gluten and insulin)
- animal fodder, residues and waste from food industries
- fresh or processed fruit and vegetables
- live plants and trees and cut flowers
- coffee, tea and spices
- cocoa beans and shells
- oils and fats
- fish, crustaceans and molluscs (fresh or processed)
- fermented drinks
- flax and hemp
- processed goods, eg products such as biscuits which have one or more of the goods listed above as a basic ingredient
You can also find a guide to licence requirements.
Processed goods and the recipe system
If you are exporting processed goods you may apply to the RPA for a recipe code. This will allow you to claim a refund more simply by calculating the percentage of each eligible ingredient used in the processed goods as opposed to claiming each separate ingredient. You can find the trader’s guide to exporting processed goods - leaflet ET17.
You can apply for a recipe code using an ET/PG1 form.
To find out about the requirements for the various CAP schemes and to see the full listing of schemes (organised by product type) operated by the RPA, read the trader’s guide to importing and exporting CAP goods - leaflet ET1.
Getting the right licence
If you’re exporting goods that require a licence or intend to claim export refunds, you must register with the RPA.
To register with RPA and receive your trader registration number, call the Rural Payments helpline on 03000 200 301.
UK licences are issued by the RPA and lodged with HMRC through their Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) computer system. For exports, the following three types of licences apply.
Advance Fixing Certificates/World Trade Organization (WTO) licences
If you wish to claim an export refund on your goods, you may need an export licence with advance fixing of the refund, known as an Advanced Fixing Certificate or a WTO licence. For processed goods an export refund can be claimed from the small exporters reserve or you can apply for a refund certificate and have the option to advance fix the refund rates. There are significant benefits to obtaining a licence with advance fixing. The licence confirms the rate of refund you can claim and helps you plan your cash-flow. For more information you can read the trader’s guide to importing and exporting CAP goods leaflet ET1.
Mandatory export licences for certain goods
If you’re exporting sugar, cereals or rice, you may require an export licence to do so. This requirement is determined by the product type, weight and destination.
If you have tendered to supply CAP goods to public authorities outside the EU, you should apply for a tender licence in advance. This will speed up the process if you win the tender.
Checking licences through CHIEF
While licences are issued electronically through CHIEF, in some circumstances you may require a paper licence, eg for use in other EU member states. You should make this clear on the licence application form. If an electronic licence has already been issued, the RPA will issue a paper licence provided there’s sufficient remaining unused quantity on the licence.
Lodging security to support your licence
You may have to provide financial security to the RPA - usually a bank guarantee - in order to support your licence and this may have implications for your cash-flow. You can find out how the CAP works.
Applying for a Common Agricultural Policy export licence
There are three ways to submit your licence application - by post, fax or email.
If you intend to submit your application by post, you must address it to the relevant commodity department at the RPA. You should check with the RPA which department is most appropriate. You can call the RPA External Trade Helpline on Telephone: 03300 416 500.
If you apply by fax or email and it arrives before noon, the licence will be lodged the same day. To apply for licences by email, you must be pre-approved by the RPA and lodge registered email addresses with them. All faxed applications must be signed.
You’ll usually need to lodge security to ensure you comply with the CAP scheme you’re exporting under. The values required are defined by the specific CAP scheme and can vary. For example, you may be required to lodge a security to the value of your goods plus a set percentage depending on the commodity. These securities must be in place before you can export your goods. There are 3 key types of security:
- block guarantee - Similar to a bank account - guarantees are deposited before the shipment takes place and refunded when all the criteria are met. These transactions continue on a rolling basis. You can use an approved guarantor or run the account yourself. This is usually the best system to use if you export frequently.
- single transaction guarantees - An approved guarantor provides payment to guarantee your responsibilities on a transaction-by-transaction basis.
- cash and cheque securities - You can provide the RPA with security in the form of a banker’s draft, bank transfer, building society cheque or cash which will be returned when the transaction is satisfactorily completed.
The RPA provides a customer guide that explains the various processes in greater detail. You can download a customer’s guide to securities and guarantees from the RPA website (PDF, 1.02MB).
Note that if you fail to fulfil an obligation, you risk forfeiting the appropriate amount of security and an invoice specifying the forfeited amount will be sent to you.
Refunds under the Common Agricultural Policy
Under the CAP, the supply and pricing of specific goods is ensured and kept competitive by a system of refunds and levies in the EU. Refunds are provided when the market price of your exported goods is lower in your target market than in the EU. This ensures your product is priced competitively in your export market while you still obtain a fair price for the goods.
In most cases, you’ll be dealing with refunds, as prices are generally lower in non-EU countries.
What you need to prove to obtain a refund
To obtain a refund, you must prove that the goods:
- tally with the details provided on the export refund application form
- were exported within the prescribed time limits
- are of sound, marketable quality
- are in free circulation
- have not altered while in Customs control
- are of EU origin
However, there are instances where other regulations could override the right to receive a CAP export refund. When transporting live bovine animals to third countries, for example, respect of the animal welfare rules is a condition for any refund claimed. See this guide on Live transport: welfare regulations.
How to claim refunds
How you receive your refund will depend on whether it’s ‘undifferentiated’ or ‘differentiated’.
Undifferentiated refunds are processed when the goods leave the EU. These are applicable when the CAP scheme has a flat refund rate, regardless of the non-EU country to which the goods have been exported. Differentiated refunds are applicable where the refund amount is dependent upon the destination of the goods.
Undifferentiated refunds are payable when the goods satisfy Customs’ checks on the information provided by your licence or claim for a refund.
For differentiated refunds you’ll have to provide proof of export and depending upon the refund value proof of import into the non-EU country to the RPA for the refund to be paid. You can find out about the requirements for the various CAP schemes and see the full listing of schemes (organised by product type).
If you use a World Trade Organisation licence with advanced fixing, the value of your refund is determined when you take out the advance fixing certificate, making it easier to plan your cash-flow.
You’ll usually have to lodge a security, the amount of which is defined by the type of goods you’re exporting.
You must keep to time limits to ensure you receive the full level of refunds due. Goods must leave the EU within 60 days of an export declaration being accepted and papers must be received within 12 months. If you fail to meet these deadlines, the amount of refund could be reduced. In addition, to make sure all of your licence security is returned, you must return the used licence to the RPA within two months of its expiry. If you return your licence between two and 24 months after expiry, the RPA will only release 85% of the security.
An additional 28-day deadline applies if your goods leave the UK and enter another EU port to change their method of transport - a process referred to as transhipment. Goods being transhipped must usually leave the port within the original 60-day period and within 28 days of the re-arrival to qualify for full refund.
You can also receive advance payment of refunds once goods have been put into Customs control. In order to do this, you must make a 110% deposit security on the refund you’re claiming. The security will be released when proof of export is received.
To find out more about refunds and levies, see pages 33 to 46 of leaflet ET1. You can use the trader’s guide to importing and exporting CAP goods leaflet ET1.
Levies under the Common Agricultural Policy
Under the CAP, if your goods are in short supply in the EU or their price outside the EU exceeds EU levels, exporting will be restricted by raising a levy on the goods.
Levies will only apply to consignments from the EU. You don’t have to pay a levy if:
- the goods aren’t of EU origin and aren’t in free circulation
- an export refund has been fixed in advance
If levies are raised on your goods they become due at the time of export. However, you may be able to defer payment of levies if you have securities in place that cover the value of the levies, go to section 2.4 of Notice 800.
If you wish to re-enter goods to Customs control when an export levy applies to another part of the EU, you must submit form T5 to HMRC and lodge a security. The security will be released once proof of the goods re-entering the EU is supplied to HMRC.
To find out more about export levies, read the trader’s guide to importing and exporting CAP goods - leaflet ET1 and go to the section on ‘Export refunds and levies’.
CAP export procedures - standard procedure
All export declarations go through the CHIEF computer system. Most exports of CAP goods also go through the standard procedures for Customs clearance.
It’s best to make your declaration electronically through CHIEF as manual declarations will first have to be processed by the Customs National Clearance Hub. When you’re making the entry, you’ll also have to enter details of any refund claim you’re going to make. Once you have made the entry correctly, the refund process will be started.
To start the refund claim, you must supply:
- the RPA claim reference and type
- your RPA reference and guarantee numbers
- your RPA licence details
You must also supply specific paperwork or details of electronic documentation, dependent upon the destination of the goods. In all cases, you’ll need to supply details of your CAP export licence. Read more about the documentation required for export and claim refunds for CAP goods in section 4.2 of Notice 800.
You must make the entry into CHIEF in sufficient time to allow the goods to be checked by Customs.
Once you have made the entry in the form of a Goods Arrival Message, you must wait to receive a Permission to Progress (P2P) message before your goods can be loaded. When the goods have left the port, the loader must submit a Goods Departure Message to CHIEF.
Alternatively, you can use C88 (CAP) CIE procedures. This means you present the C88 (CAP) CIE form at the port with your goods. If the goods can be examined and the required paperwork is present, Customs will input the data onto CHIEF and forward details to the RPA.
When completing a C88 (CAP) CIE, you must:
- list the type and quantity of goods you’re exporting
- provide details about their destination
- only list a maximum of 99 export items per form
You’ll also need a form T5 for goods exported via another EU member state and all relevant licences and advanced fixing certificates.
Late submission of documents
If you fail to provide all the relevant details when using the electronic system or fail to present a C88 (CAP) CIE to HMRC, you won’t receive any refunds.
To find out more about export procedures for CAP goods, read the trader’s guide to importing and exporting CAP goods - leaflet ET1 and go to page G1.
If you don’t submit your goods or any Customs forms to Customs before you try to export them, HMRC will give them ‘undeclared export’ status. You won’t be able to get a refund, even if HMRC accept a late declaration.
Using Local Clearance Procedure
You can also apply to use the Local Clearance Procedure. This means that Customs inspections can be carried out at inland premises approved by HMRC before export which can save you time and money. Inspections and sampling at the inland premises will still require you to open, unpack, weigh and repack any goods as requested by HMRC, as well as providing any requested paperwork. Go to the guide on Customs Freight Simplified Procedures.
You can also use Designated Export Places but cannot use simplified procedures on goods where an export refund is being claimed.
Simplified scheduling procedure and the Common Agricultural Policy
There’s a simplified scheduling procedure you can use when exporting CAP goods which can minimise your paperwork by summarising several consignments.
You can only use the simplified scheduling procedure if you’re:
- approved by HMRC and the RPA to use it
- an exporting victualling supplier for ships and aircraft in the EU
- supplying international organisations in the UK which are allowed to receive duty free goods
- supplying armed forces within the EU who aren’t in their home country
- providing catering supplies for oil or gas rigs on the EU shelf or naval vessels at sea flying a member state’s flag
- receiving regular, scheduled consignments of less than 5,000 kilograms of cereal or 500 kilograms of other goods per month
You can use the simplified procedure to summarise several consignments. Each claim must be for:
- one type of good, with the same product code
- one calendar month’s consignments
Claiming a refund for scheduled goods
You can use your own records to claim a refund. You should do this at regular intervals which you have agreed with Customs. You should:
- copy details from your Export Control Register (ECR) onto schedule forms C1226A and C1227A
- send the schedules to HMRC to check
Customs will send the forms to the RPA after they have checked them.
Completing your ECR
These are the basic rules for keeping an ECR. You should record:
- a sequential number and date for each entry
- the commercial description of the goods
- commodity product codes
- net weight of the goods
- for packaged goods - the number of packages and a packing list - unless the packages are all the same
- the number of any CAP export licence or advance fixing certificate
- the number of any Special Export Refund form
- where the goods will be exported and the name of the importer
- the date you’ll be exporting the goods
- cross-references to any other documents such as T5, C1226A, transit form so they can be checked against each other
- where the goods will leave the UK
- any port of transhipment
Date of acceptance
Customs will advise you about the timings of making entries into your ECR. The date you make entries in the ECR counts as the date of acceptance.
For scheduling, Customs use the date of acceptance to work out:
- your refunds
- any time limits that apply to your goods
You use different paperwork and manage your own records for claiming refunds if you use this system. To find out about simplified scheduling, read the trader’s guide to importing and exporting CAP goods - leaflet ET1
Exports via the EU and the Common Agricultural Policy
If you’re exporting CAP goods via another EU member state before they leave the EU, you must follow a specific procedure.
Goods must remain under Customs control until they leave the EU. If the goods are going to or through a European Free Trade Association country, you must use Community Transit forms and form T5. The control copy of form T5 must travel with the goods. In most cases, the Community Transit form you use comprises copies of the C88 (SAD). You’ll need to supply Customs with a C88 (CAP) CIE or use the CHIEF computer system to lodge an entry.
You should attach a red label to the T5 form to ensure it’s easily identified. When the goods leave the EU, Customs in the final EU country will stamp the T5 form and return it to the RPA via HMRC to enable the processing of any refund.
You must make an export declaration if you export CAP goods to an ‘entitled destination’. ‘Entitled destinations’ must meet certain criteria but in general are:
- armed forces not based in their own country
- naval and auxiliary ships
- oil and gas rigs
- ships and aircraft
- victualling warehouses
- international organisations
If you are exporting to entitled destinations, you will also need to complete the following forms which you can find on the HMRC website:
- C1226A - CAP export refund consignment schedule
- C1227A - CAP export declaration and claim form for export refund and advance payment
For more information on exporting CAP goods via another EU member state, read the trader’s guide to importing and exporting CAP goods - leaflet ET1 and see page H1.
Sources of help and support for Common Agricultural Policy goods exporters
Exporting CAP goods and managing refunds and levies can be complex. Refunds and levies can change quickly, so you’ll need to keep up to date with all the latest developments.
Detailed guidance is available in the RPA’s Trader’s Guide to Importing and Exporting CAP Goods. You can read the trader’s guide to importing and exporting CAP goods - leaflet ET1.
For day-to-day enquiries, you can call the RPA Helpline on Telephone: 0345 603 7777.
For more detailed guidance on Customs procedures related to the export of CAP goods, you can view Notice 800.
You can find help with queries on Customs processing for CAP goods by calling the HMRC VAT Helpline.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for policy in agriculture. The RPA is an agency of Defra. You can find out about Overseas trade in food, feed and drink.
RPA External Trade Helpline
Telephone: 03300 416 500
Published: 8 October 2012
Updated: 26 May 2015
- removed out of date registration form.
- First published.