How to get approval to use the Flexible Accounting System if you’re an agent, and how to use the system to pay customs charges on goods your client has imported.
Who can use the Flexible Accounting System (FAS)
FAS is an accounting sub-system which can be used to process import entries through a computer terminal linked to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system, it can only be used if you’re a direct trader input (DTI) agent who wants to pay for charges due on DTI entries using an immediate payment method.
FAS approval is automatic if you’re approved as a DTI agent.
The FAS team are unable to set up a FAS account.
What your FAS approval will cover
It will cover all FAS transactions processed through the specific ports or airports where you’re DTI active.
If the goods are imported 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.
How does the FAS account work
The FAS account is used in a similar way to a current bank account, except that:
- you will not pay any charges to use the account
- there is no overdraft facility
- you cannot earn any interest
Your account is identified either by:
- the Entry Processing Unit (EPU) number
- your Trader’s Unique Reference Number (TURN)
- the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI)
You’ll need to put money in your FAS account (CHIEF credits) to offset against charges due on DTI entries (CHIEF debits) awaiting clearance, but only on the entries that meet all other customs requirements.
There is no minimum or maximum account balance, but it cannot go below ‘0’. The amount of money you put in your FAS account to pay entry charges is entirely up to you.
When you can use FAS
You can use FAS either to:
- pay for charges due on imported goods by an immediate payment method, for example, guaranteed cheque, bank draft, Faster Payment, Bacs or CHAPS
- withdraw funds from your account
FAS can only be used to pay for DTI entries input by you. It cannot be used to pay for entries input by HMRC.
How FAS helps you
You will be able to control the clearance of your entries against the funds deposited in your FAS 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 — dependent on the over and under payment limits you have set within the ‘Amend FAS Owner Details (AFOD)’ facility
The purpose of the AFOD facility
It helps you to control the use of the funds you have deposited in your FAS by keeping 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 will 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 (entry-specific funds that exceed the overpayment limit will not transfer to the general FAS balance, instead, the overpayment amount will be held in reserve until appropriate withdrawal action is taken)
- funds that build up in your reserve account are subject to the ‘Duty of Care’
- underpayment limit — the maximum amount that can be used from the general FAS balance when a specific payment is not enough to clear the entry
It allows you to keep your contact details so HMRC can get in touch with you if we have a query (for example, regarding payment details) — the details you can provide to us are your:
- contact name
- phone number
- fax number
- contact email address
It is essential you enter payment parameters and your contact details if you choose to allocate payments to specific entries.
You can also 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. There’s no verification or validation undertaken on the email address that you enter, so make sure it’s correct.
What charges you can pay using your FAS account
You can pay by immediate payment:
- import VAT
- Customs Duty
- excise duty
- other charges due at clearance
Other credits to or debits from your FAS account
If necessary, HMRC can credit or debit your FAS account general fund for post clearance adjustments and ‘miscellaneous cash deposits’.
The role of the Salford Accounting Centre
While your FAS account is set up and ‘held’ at each of the ports or airports where you’re DTI active, Salford Accounting Centre are responsible for the accounting aspects of operating a FAS account, for example to:
- allocate payments into an account
- initiate withdrawal requests
Further information on FAS and DTI facilities
For further information on FAS and DTI facilities in CHIEF, including how to access the different types of transaction screens on your CHIEF terminal, you should read the following guides:
These guides will also give information on the types of reports available.
Using FAS if you’re a sub-agent
If you’re an agent and another agent tells you to make an entry for an importer (maybe because the other agent does not have an office at the port or airport concerned) you can pay the charges due through your own FAS account.
This is a commercial arrangement and any disputes would need to be settled by the parties concerned. This would not be a matter for HMRC.
Removal or suspension of your FAS
HMRC will remove or suspend your approval if your FAS account is misused, or if entries remain uncleared for an unacceptable length of time.
How to make payments into your 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 either:
- ‘Entry Payment Notification’ — for specific payments (IEPN)
- ‘Payment/Withdrawal Notification’ — for general payments (IPWN) on your CHIEF linked terminal
You must then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org quoting FAS in the subject line of the email, and in the body of the email provide the:
- payment amount
- FAS reference
- name of the trader making the payment
Your email will help us to:
- match the information entered with the actual payment made
- make sure the correct details are allocated to the correct FAS account
If the payment is for multiple FAS references, you must include a breakdown of the FAS references and amounts in your email.
Attach the payment remittance from the bank which shows details of the transfer of payments.
Other ways to make payment
Pay by post
You can pay by post by either a:
- guaranteed cheque (by individual bank endorsement)
- bank draft
Send the payment to Salford Accounting Centre and include the information emailed to the Salford Accounting Centre. The address is:
HM Revenue & Customs
Three New Bailey
New Bailey Street
You must include a payment reference and use the correct bank account when you want to pay electronically so that your payment can be allocated correctly and quickly.
The FAS notification reference can be up to 6 numbers and is generated on completion of the required notification screen (IEPN or IPWN) on CHIEF.
To pay from a UK account
|Sort code||Account number||Account name|
To pay from an overseas account
|GB21 BARC 2005 1703 9840 95||BARCGB22||HMRC FAS|
If you are using the Customs Declaration Service, do not pay to the FAS bank account. This could cause delays to the clearance of your declarations.’
What reference to include with your payment
The payment must include the FAS notification reference, this can be up to 6 numbers and is generated on completion of the required notification screen (IEPN or IPWN) on CHIEF.
You can also include the following:
- ‘EPU’ number — a 3-number code of the port or airport of import
- ‘TURN’ or EORI — a 12-number code identifying whose FAS account the payment will be going to
- entry number and date (if the payment is for a specific entry) — the entry number is 7 numbers (there is no specific format for the entry date)
The reference must also be shown in the email sent to Salford Accounting Centre email@example.com.
In the subject line of your email include either:
- ‘FAS Payment Advice’
- ‘FAS Enquiry’
Most delays are caused by an incorrect or missing reference. It’s important to tell your bank when they make the payment that the reference must also be transmitted. If someone else is funding the payment, you should also make sure they’re aware of this.
When to pay
When you’re arranging the clearance of goods, especially if you’re importing perishable goods or intend to clear goods over the weekend or on a bank holiday, you need to think about:
- any postal delays — for payments made by cheque or bank draft
- bank processing times — for payments made electronically
To allocate electronic payments to the correct FAS account, Salford Accounting Centre needs 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
- CHAPS is guaranteed the same day, but your bank may not transmit the payment immediately to HMRC, and it’s 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.
Check if a payment has been received and processed
If you made your payment electronically and you want to know whether your payment has been received and processed, you should first check its status with your bank (for example, 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 you contact Salford Accounting Centre.
Get help if you have an enquiry
If you have a general enquiry, you can contact Salford Accounting Centre by telephone or email:
Telephone: 0300 322 7064 and select option 1
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Closed on weekends and bank holidays.
Any changes to these times will be notified on the CHIEF Noticeboard.
Include ‘FAS Enquiry’ in the subject line of your email.
Duty of care
If you’re an agent
You have a duty to handle payments funded by a third party responsibly. It’s 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 recommends its use.
You’re also responsible to reimburse overpayments to the correct party. Any disputes are a matter between you and your customer and not HMRC.
If your client chooses to fund payments to clear goods using FAS, it’s your responsibility as the agent and FAS account owner to handle these responsibly, for example, to make sure the correct import entry is cleared.
If you’re an importer
You must check the identity, integrity and reliability of the companies or individuals that you employ to act on your behalf. Any disputes are a matter between yourself and your agent (as the FAS account owner) and not HMRC.
Pay charges through FAS
How the funds deposited in your FAS account are 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 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.
How to match payments against specific entries in FAS
You must notify Salford Accounting Centre that you’re going to make a specific payment by both:
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org and include the FAS notification reference
- completing the transaction screen IEPN (insert entry payment notification) on your CHIEF linked terminal
Whether you choose to match payments, or maintain a general balance, it’s 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.
You must enter payment parameters and your contact details within the AFOD screen if you choose to allocate payments to specific entries.
How to decide whether the charges on the entries go through your FAS account
You can usually do this by inputting the appropriate ‘Method of Payment Code’ on the import entry.
The charges due on your entry will be automatically posted to your FAS account if you’re trying to pay import charges through your own deferment account and either:
- there’s not enough security in the deferment account to cover the transaction
- the deferment account cannot be operated for any other reason
If a deferment fails whilst using an importer’s deferment account
If the deferment input fails, and the deferment account being used is not your own, the charges due will not be automatically posted to your FAS account.
You must let the importer know and, if they tell you to pay immediately, you will need to amend the ‘Method of Payment Code’ to that associated with the FAS payment to use your FAS account. Otherwise, you will need to wait until the deferment guarantee limit is sufficient to clear the entry.
How to amend the entry from FAS to deferment
To amend an entry from FAS to deferment, for example, at the start of a new deferment accounting period, use the relevant transaction screen (Transaction AIME — Amend Import Entry) on your CHIEF linked terminal. CHIEF will then re-attempt clearance by deferment.
If the entry fails both deferment and FAS processing
If the entry fails both deferment and FAS processing it will be held in your FAS suspense account until you either:
- deposit enough funds into your FAS account
- amend the entry
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 will not automatically revert to deferment even if the guarantee is subsequently increased sufficiently.
What to do if you make an error on an entry
If you see an error on an entry post clearance and think a payment is due to HMRC, you can make a voluntary disclosure on form C2001.
Entries awaiting clearance in your account (FAS suspense)
What is FAS suspense
FAS suspense is a log of entries awaiting clearance in your FAS account. If there are not enough funds to clear an entry in your FAS account, it will be held in suspense until you either:
- deposit enough funds
- amend the entry
How does FAS suspense work
Depending on the type of transaction, items will be suspended in 1 of 4 priority groups. Group 1 is the highest priority and Group 4 is the lowest.
- 1 and 4 are for input entries
- 2 and 3 are for adjustments
Within each group, CHIEF will create a queue of items in your FAS account 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. In certain circumstances HMRC can re-prioritise entries by promoting them to group 1.
Adjustment transactions input by HMRC will be suspended in groups 2 and 3 depending on the type of adjustment being made.
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 will not have cleared. It therefore will not 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.
Description of the 4 suspense groups
Group 1 — priority entries
In exceptional circumstances, HMRC will put entries in this group on your behalf, for example if a consignment is hazardous or perishable.
Group 2 — debit contra transactions
Only available to HMRC. Transactions will be in this group if they’re from the cancellation of a previously posted payment or adjustment credit.
Group 3 — post clearance debit adjustments
Only available to HMRC. Transactions will be in this group if they’re from post clearance demands.
Group 4 — non-priority entries
Available to both the FAS account holder and HMRC, most of the transactions that are suspended will be held in this group.
How to change the order of entries in the suspense queue
Only Salford Accounting Centre can re-order items within group 2 and group 3. Contact them by email: email@example.com with details of your FAS account and include the EPU and TURN, along with the relevant entry details in the queue to be re-ordered.
How to re-prioritise entries in group 4
You can 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, this only applies to entries being paid from the general fund.
When you amend your queue, you should interrogate all suspense groups. If there’s 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 you make a payment. Funds should be paid in to match the order of entries in the suspense queue.
Be careful when you present multiple payments. 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.
How to withdraw unused funds from your FAS account
You can withdraw previously deposited unused funds from your FAS account at any time either to:
You must give prior notice to Salford Accounting Centre that you intend to withdraw funds from your FAS account.
To do this go to your CHIEF linked terminal and access the relevant transaction screen, either:
- ‘Transaction Amend Entry Payment Notification’ (AEPN) for withdrawal of specific funds
- IPWN for withdrawal of general funds
How to request a repayment of unused funds from your FAS account
You can request a repayment if either the:
- unused funds on CHIEF have been set to withdraw
- funds have not been allocated to a FAS reference
To request a repayment you must complete a full repayment request form FAS1 with all the correct information. It can take up to 20 working days to fully process the refund from when HMRC receives the form.
How to complete and submit form FAS1
Download and save the form on your computer.
Open it using the the latest free version of Adobe Reader.
Complete it on-screen.
Read the accessibility statement for HMRC forms.
It may not work it you try to open it in your internet browser. If the form does not open, then contact the Online Services helpdesk for more help.
Email HMRC to ask for this form in Welsh (Cymraeg).
How to transfer funds to a new FAS reference
If there are funds within your FAS account (either against a FAS reference or in general funds) that you want to move to a new FAS reference, you will need to set the funds to ‘withdraw’.
You must provide HMRC the:
- FAS notification reference number of the withdrawal
- reference number of the transfer
- amount that you want to withdraw — this must match the amount paid for accounting reasons
Withdrawals from your FAS account by anyone else
HMRC can use funds from your FAS account either to:
- process any post clearance demands (form C18 Post Clearance Demand Note) that may have been issued to you
- make any debit adjustments that may be necessary where a cleared entry requires amendment
Interrogate your FAS account
You can interrogate your FAS account through your CHIEF linked terminal, to:
- receive up to date information on entries cleared
- look at balances in your account for the current month and the previous quarter
Transaction screen DFAD — Display FAS Account Details
This facility allows you to display details of your FAS account (including current balances) with options to display specific transactions for a specific calendar day at an EPU.
The transaction can be shown 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 do not include entries that are waiting specific payments. The suspense total for each priority group is displayed so that DFSA can be selected through the field to display details for the priority group.
DFAD also provides a field for selecting LPWN to get a list of FAS payment and withdrawal notifications and their status.
Transaction screen DFSA — Display FAS Suspense Account
This allows you to display current details of your FAS suspense account.
How to get an account statement
If you insert a valid email address in AFOD requesting a FAS statement, you will receive one as an attachment in an email (e-statement).
If you do not insert a valid email in this screen, you will not receive a statement.
Information on your FAS monthly statement
Your FAS monthly statement will have the following information:
- summary of trader account
- payments and payment deletions
- withdrawals and withdrawal deletions
- duty adjustment:
- credits and deletion contra debits
- 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 to check against your statements.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for:
- all FAS accounting queries
- enquiries regarding non-receipt of FAS statements
Include ‘FAS Enquiry’ in the subject line of your email.
How to receive the monthly account statement in another format
Your FAS account is also available for interrogation and for print outputs from your own CHIEF linked terminal throughout the current period.
You can use this format as an alternative, or in addition to the monthly statement sent by email.
How to get duplicate copies of statements
In exceptional circumstances you may be able to get copies of up to a maximum of 3-months-worth of duplicate statements.
To get duplicate copies email Salford Accounting Centre email@example.com and include ‘FAS Enquiry’ in the subject line of your email.
You will, however, be able to interrogate transactions processed within the current month and the previous quarter from your own CHIEF linked terminal.