Pay no import duty and VAT when importing decorations and awards

You can claim a relief to pay no Customs Duty and VAT if you are importing or presenting a decoration or award in the UK.

Who can claim relief

You can get relief if you:

  • have been given a decoration or award in a country outside the UK
  • are a person who will be giving a decoration or award to persons in the UK

The recipient of the decoration or award must be either a:

  • non-UK resident being given the award at business conference or international event taking place in the UK
  • UK resident

What you can claim relief on

The goods must be given by:

  • governments
  • heads of state of countries other than the UK
  • organisations giving honorary awards in the field of:
    • sport
    • arts
    • science
    • public service

You can get relief on:

  • awards
  • cups
  • medals
  • trophies
  • other items of a symbolic nature

The goods must not have any commercial intent.

Goods you cannot claim relief on

You cannot get relief for long service awards, prizes or gifts.

You also cannot claim for:

  • watches
  • cars
  • promotional items
  • any consumables such as:
    • alcoholic drinks
    • tobacco products
    • foods

Before you claim

You should check if your goods are strictly controlled and if you will need an import licence.

When you get the commodity code for your goods using the tariff it will tell you if you need a license.

When to claim

You should claim relief at the time of import. if you do not do this, we may accept a late claim and repay the appropriate charges subject to conditions.

How to claim

We need to see a certificate or press publicity material relating to the decoration or award. We will also accept a letter or statement from the donor or organiser of the event.

We may contact the donors or organisers to check the evidence given is genuine and legitimate.

Goods imported in baggage

If your goods are imported in baggage you must declare them to us when you arrive. You can do this in either the:

  • Customs Red Channel
  • Red Point

You’ll need to have the necessary supporting documentation or evidence to show you’re entitled to this relief.

We may also ask you to make a declaration on the imported decorations and awards (C920) form.

Find out how accessible our forms are.

Goods imported as freight

Claim relief by completing an import declaration on the Customs Declaration Service.

The Additional Procedure Codes for this relief are:

  • C27 — for decorations presented by governments or heads of state of third countries on people who normally reside in the UK
  • C51 — for decorations and awards which have been presented to an entitled person in a third country
  • C52 — for decorations and awards which will be presented in the UK to a resident of the UK
  • C53 — for decorations and awards which will be presented at business conferences or similar international events

If you’re eligible to claim VAT relief, code F45 must also be declared in DE 1/11, along with the relevant Additional Procedure Code.

Find out more information about how to:

Goods imported by post

Ask the sender to write ‘Decoration or award – relief claimed’ clearly on the package and its accompanying customs declaration (CN22 or CN23).

Find out more information about importing goods by post.

Getting someone else to complete your customs declaration

You can use someone else to complete entries on your behalf but you must make sure you give clear written instructions for the goods that you’re claiming relief on.

After you’ve claimed

If you dispose of your goods

You must tell the National Imports Reliefs Unit if you dispose or transfer your goods to another person.

Records you must keep

You must keep:

  • any National Imports Relief Unit acknowledgement letters
  • receipts
  • bills
  • invoices
  • insurance documents

You need to keep additional records if:

  • you transfer goods to another approved entity — keep any official documentation detailing transfer between you and other entity
  • you re-export the goods — keep the Nation Export System declaration details or export documentation providing information about the date of export
  • your goods are stolen, lost or destroyed — keep police or insurance incident reports, or official documentation providing details of the date of the incident or loss

You must keep all records for a minimum of 4 years.

If you break the conditions of the relief

If you no longer meet the conditions of the relief, you must immediately notify the National Import Reliefs Unit orally, electronically, or in writing.

Provide full details of the importation and why you think the conditions of the relief have been breached.

If you want to appeal

Appeal if you disagree a decision made by HMRC.

Published 31 July 2020
Last updated 14 April 2023 + show all updates
  1. Guidance on how to claim if you are importing as freight has been updated.

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

  3. First published.