Guidance

Making declarations using transitional simplified procedures

Find out how to submit your declarations if you’re importing from the EU into the UK using transitional simplified procedures.

This guidance only applies if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

When you import goods into the UK from the EU under transitional simplified procedures there are 2 stages to making a declaration.

The first part of the declaration will depend on the type of goods you’re importing and which procedure you’re using:

  • for controlled goods, you’ll need to submit a simplified frontier declaration to clear the goods from the border
  • for standard goods, you can make an entry into your own records

You’ll need to submit a supplementary declaration (a more detailed declaration) for all goods, controlled and standard, after your goods have crossed the border.

HMRC uses the declarations to work out the amount of duty and taxes you owe. You can use a third party to submit declarations on your behalf but you’ll still be liable for any duties and taxes payable.

Controlled goods procedure

For transitional simplified procedures, controlled goods are some goods that must have a license to import, or excise goods like alcohol or tobacco, which have additional duties on them.

If you’re importing controlled goods from the EU using transitional simplified procedures, you’ll need to use the controlled goods procedure.

To make a simplified declaration for controlled goods using transitional simplified procedures, you’ll need a customs agent or intermediary to help you or you’ll need to buy software to do this yourself.

You’ll need to:

  • submit a simplified frontier declaration before you import controlled goods into the UK
  • make sure that the controlled goods are accompanied by full supporting documentation, for example the appropriate licence
  • update the declaration to ’arrived’ on arrival into the UK (through your agent or your software), before the end of the following working day after the goods have arrived in the UK
  • submit a supplementary declaration by the fourth working day of the month following the arrival of the goods into the UK

If you have duties or taxes to pay, HMRC will take your direct debit:

  • for customs duties and any import VAT, on the 15th day of the month that you make your supplementary declaration in
  • for excise duties, on the 29th of the month that you make your supplementary declaration in

But if you’re a VAT-registered trader you must use VAT postponed accounting, which means you’ll include import VAT for goods you import through these simplified procedures in your VAT Return.

If you’re importing standard goods as well as controlled goods, you can use the same (controlled goods) procedure for both.

You should check our list of transitional simplified procedures controlled goods regularly, as this may change.

Standard goods procedure

If you’re importing goods that are not on the transitional simplified procedures controlled goods list, you’ll need to make the first part of the declaration by recording information directly into your commercial records. You’ll need to do this before your goods cross the border and arrive in the UK.

The information you’ll need to record is:

  • your unique reference number for the consignment
  • a description of the goods and the commodity code
  • the quantity you’ve imported
  • purchase and (if available) sales invoice numbers
  • the customs value
  • delivery details
  • supplier emails
  • serial numbers of any certificates or licenses

When the goods cross the border, you’ll update your commercial records with the date and approximate time the goods arrived in the UK.

After you’ve imported the goods

After import, you’ll normally need to make a supplementary declarations on the fourth working day after your goods have arrived in the UK. HMRC will update this guidance to let you know when you’ll need to start making them.

You may not need to make an individual supplementary declaration for each consignment, as you can combine the information for each period into a single declaration. This is as long as certain information is the same.

If you have duties or taxes to pay, HMRC will take your direct debit:

  • for customs duties and any import VAT, on the 15th day of the month that your supplementary declaration is made in
  • for excise duties, on the 29th of the month that your supplementary declaration is made in

If your business is not registered for VAT, we’ll introduce a new method for paying import VAT. We’ll give more details shortly.

If you’re VAT-registered, you’ll account for VAT on your VAT Return.

If a representative is submitting supplementary declarations on your behalf, you’ll need:

Check what the tariffs will be, to see whether you’ll need to pay customs duties on your goods.

As the importer, you’ll be solely responsible for any duty and taxes owed.

If you’re submitting your own supplementary declarations

If you’re submitting your own supplementary declarations for transitional simplified procedures, you’ll need:

Check what the tariffs will be, to see whether you’ll need to pay customs duties on your goods.

Your software provider will explain what you need to do to complete a supplementary declaration.

You will also need to use the UK trade tariff to help you complete declarations.

When to submit supplementary declarations

You must submit your supplementary declaration and make sure it’s accepted by the due date.

For the controlled goods procedure, this will normally be the fourth working day of the month after the goods enter the UK, and the simplified frontier declaration is accepted.

For goods imported using the standard goods procedure you’ll normally need to send a supplementary declaration by the fourth working day of the month following the arrival of the goods into the UK. HMRC will update this guidance to let you know when to start making them.

How to submit declarations

Many businesses find it simpler to make customs declarations by appointing a customs agent to submit declarations on their behalf.

If you cannot appoint an agent, or do not think this is the right solution for your business, you’ll need to submit your supplementary declarations electronically to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system or the Customs Declaration Service. To do this:

  • make sure someone in your business is trained to make customs declarations
  • buy specialist software that links to HMRC’s customs systems

You’ll be able to:

  • submit declarations individually or in batches
  • submit more than one supplementary declaration for a single simplified frontier declaration

Standard goods procedure supplementary declaration

For the standard goods procedure, you may choose to appoint an agent to help you until you’re ready to make declarations yourself.

You’ll be able to submit fewer supplementary declarations by combining imports with the same header and item level data into a single, combined supplementary declaration.

You’ll be able to submit combined supplementary declarations where the following information is the same:

  • declaration type (all transitional simplified procedure declarations will be imports)
  • deferment account number
  • importer and UK EORI number
  • representative (if you’re using multiple agents to make declarations on your behalf, there must be one declaration for each representative)
  • delivery terms
  • country of destination (this will always be the UK)
  • country of dispatch
  • location of goods (this will usually be the delivery address)

You’ll be able to combine item information on a single line within the combined supplementary declaration. To do this, the following information about the goods must be the same:

  • Customs Procedure Code (we’ll tell you which code to use)
  • Commodity Code
  • description of goods
  • exporter and UK EORI number (the goods must be from one supplier)
  • details used in the calculation of the Customs Duty – tax type, method of calculation, currency
  • item price
  • customs valuation method
  • country of origin
  • supplementary units (type of unit, that is boxes, items, litres)

After you submit declarations

When HMRC accepts your supplementary declaration, the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system will send a customs response message giving a calculation of what you owe.

We’ll take payment of customs duties and import VAT (if you’re not registered for VAT) from your deferment account on the 15th day of the month when you’ve submitted the supplementary declaration (or the next working day), and excise duties on the 29th of that month.

For declarations you submit to Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system, you’ll need to submit a final supplementary declaration by the fourth working day of the month following each reporting period.

Declare the number of supplementary declarations that are:

  • due for that reporting period
  • finalised
  • late from the previous reporting period

Transitional simplified procedures declarations for transit goods

You can use transitional simplified procedures if you’re importing goods from the EU or for goods that have cleared EU customs formalities, under the Common Transit Convention.

When you import goods to the UK under the Common Transit Convention, you must discharge them from transit at an office of destination or to an authorised consignee using the existing process.

You’ll be able to use simplified declarations to declare EU goods to free circulation at the time of discharging the transit movement. Or, if you declare your goods to temporary storage after they’re discharged from transit, you’ll be able to use simplified declarations to release your goods from temporary storage.

The process for this will depend on whether the goods are subject to the controlled or standard goods procedure.

Controlled goods

For controlled goods, you’ll need to submit a simplified frontier declaration before the time that you want your goods to leave the office of destination or authorised consignee – this can be after the goods have entered the UK.

If you submit the declaration before, you’ll need to update the declaration to ‘arrived’ when it arrives in the UK, before the end of the following working day or before the time that you want your goods to leave the office of destination or authorised consignee (whichever is sooner).

You’ll need to give the office of destination or authorised consignee the master reference number of your simplified frontier declaration as evidence that you’ve declared your goods to free circulation. Someone acting on your behalf can do this for you (for example, a haulier).

You must be able to submit full supporting documentation, for example the appropriate licence, if you’re asked to do so by a government authority.

You’ll normally submit a supplementary declaration by the fourth working day of the month after the goods are released from temporary storage.

Standard goods

If your goods are not on the transitional simplified procedures controlled goods list, you’ll need to declare the goods by recording this information into your commercial records before the time that you want your goods to leave the office of destination or authorised consignee.

You do not need to record the time of the goods arriving in the UK, but you must update your records with the time of your goods’ release to free circulation. This will be the tax point.

You’ll give the office of destination or authorised consignee your UK EORI number (an EORI number starting with GB) as evidence that you’re registered for transitional simplified procedures and proof that you’ve declared your goods to free circulation. Someone acting on your behalf (for example, a haulier) will be able do this for you.

If your goods are in an inventory-linked temporary storage facility, you’ll need to make a customs clearance request to release your goods. To do this, you’ll need a customs agent or intermediary to help you or you’ll need to buy software to do this yourself. An authorised consignee could also do this for you. The UK EORI number you provide will be validated during this process.

If your goods are in a non-inventory linked facility, follow the local procedures.

You’ll need to update your records with the time of your goods’ release from temporary storage. This will be the tax point.

You’ll normally need to submit a supplementary declaration by the fourth working day of the month after the goods have been released to free circulation. HMRC will update this guidance to let you know when to start making them.

Getting help from third parties

There are third parties that can help with the customs process and movement of your goods, these are:

  • freight forwarders
  • customs agents or brokers
  • express courier industry (fast parcel operators)

Freight forwarders

Freight forwarding is a service that involves moving goods around the world for importers and exporters. A freight forwarder will arrange customs clearance of goods crossing the frontier and they’ll have the right software to communicate with HMRC’s systems.

There’s more about this on the British International Freight Association and Institute of Export websites.

Customs agent or broker

Customs agents and brokers make sure that your goods clear through customs on their way to the final place of delivery in the UK.

A customs agent or broker will act as either a direct representative or indirect representative.

Express courier industry

The express courier industry involves operators who specialise in time definite transportation services for documents, parcels and freight.

These fast parcel operators offer world-wide, integrated, door-to-door movement of shipments. They track and control shipments throughout their journey.

Software providers

Software providers offer software that enables you to make customs declarations electronically to HMRC’s systems.

Contact us

For general enquiries, you can contact the HMRC VAT imports and export: general enquiries helpline.

For help with tariff classification, email: classification.tso@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

More information

Sign up for EU Exit email alerts to find out when new guidance about this is published.

Find out how to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Published 22 March 2019