Guidance

Refunds and waivers on customs debt by HMRC

Find out about repayment and remission of customs duties by HMRC and how to apply.

In certain circumstances HMRC can repay or remit (waive) a customs debt. We can either:

  • repay — refund an amount of import or export duty that’s been paid
  • remit — waive the payment of import or export duty that has not yet been paid

When HMRC can repay or remit duties

For each full import declaration, your claim must be more than 10 euros (£8.86) in value for goods imported on or before 31 December 2020 and more than £9 in value for goods imported after 31 December 2020. We can repay or remit customs duties when:

  • you paid duties that were not due, for example, an over payment
  • you reject the imported goods because they’re damaged or defective, or do not meet the conditions of their contract
  • the debt results from:
    • an error made by customs authorities that you could not have identified
    • circumstances that put you in an exceptional situation compared to other businesses, is outside of normal commercial risk and not the result of any negligence or deception on your part
  • you pay the duties but you ask us to invalidate the customs declaration, for example on mail order goods

Claims for rejected imports

You can claim repayment or remission on goods imported from outside the UK when:

  • you’ve rejected the goods because at the time of declaring them to a customs procedure they’re:
    • defective
    • damaged before being cleared by customs
    • not compliant with the terms of the contract you imported them under
  • they’re the same goods from the original customs declaration
  • you’ve not used any goods, other than the minimum necessary to establish they were defective or did not comply with the contract
  • you’ve not sold the goods after finding them to be defective, damaged or not compliant with the contract
  • you’ll re-export or destroy the goods

You cannot make a claim if you already knew the goods were damaged or defective when the contract for sale was made.

You must submit form C&E1179 at least 48 hours before the goods are packed for re-export or destruction.

Claims for defective parts

You can claim for repayment of duties where only part of the goods are defective. You must only claim the difference between the duty:

  • charged on the whole of the goods
  • that would have been charged, if it had been imported without the defective parts

You must use the rate of duty that applied at the time of the original customs declaration.

Claims for goods located in an EU member state

For repayment or remission applications for goods that were imported before the 31 December 2020, you can claim for goods that are being rejected and are currently located in an EU member state, as long as you have paid or are liable to pay the import duty.

If you’re holding goods that are being rejected having originally been imported into an EU member state, the original importer can submit a claim.

There are special procedures for dealing with this situation. Contact HMRC for more information.

Claims for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) goods

If your claim is approved before disposal of the goods that you’ve paid import duty or CAP charges on, the goods are classed as ‘removed from free circulation’.

How to apply

You apply for repayment or remission of import duties using form C285.

You can claim repayment or remission of charges on rejected imports and CAP goods using form C&E1179.

For declarations you must submit your claim either:

  • 3 years from notification of the debt
  • 3 months from the date the customs entry was accepted
  • 1 year from notification of the debt for rejected imports (C&E1179 claims)

HMRC can extend these time limits if there are exceptional circumstances, for example, a fire or flood has destroyed your records. You can contact HMRC to ask for an extension.

Cases dealt with by the European Commission

For repayment or remission applications for goods that were imported before the 31 December 2020, in certain circumstances, HMRC must refer your case to the European Commission, this happens when there’s a special situation, customs error, and either the debt:

  • exceeds 500,000 euros in value
  • results from an EU investigation

We’ll notify you if we refer your case to the Commission, and we’ll keep you informed.

Complicated cases can take over a year to reach a decision.

Published 28 April 2016
Last updated 5 July 2022 + show all updates
  1. Guidance has about how to apply has been updated.

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

  3. Information about when to submit your claim for repayment or remission of charges on rejected imports and CAP goods has been updated.

  4. Information about when to use forms C&E1179CDS and C285CDS has been added to the page.

  5. Paragraphs withdrawn due to Union Customs Code (UCC) changes.

  6. First published.

  1. Step 1 Check if you need to follow this process

  2. Step 2 Get your business ready to import

    You need an EORI number that starts with GB to import goods into England, Wales or Scotland. You'll need a new one if you have an EORI that does not start with GB.

    If you move goods to or from Northern Ireland you may need one that starts with XI.

    1. Get an EORI number

    There are processes that can make clearing customs quicker and easier to manage if you have to make import declarations regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you
  3. and Check the business sending you the goods can export to the UK

    The business sending you the goods may need:

    • to make an export declaration in their country
    • licences or certificates to send goods to the UK

    Check whoever is sending the goods is able to export them from their country.

  4. Step 3 Decide who will make customs declarations and transport the goods

    You can hire someone to deal with customs and transport the goods for you, or you can do it yourself.

    Most businesses that import goods use a transporter or customs agent.

    1. Find out how to hire someone to deal with customs for you
  5. Step 4 Find out the commodity code for your goods

    You’ll need to include the commodity code on your import declaration. This will determine the rate of duty you need to pay and if you need an import licence.

    Your customs agent or transporter might be able to help you with this.

    1. Find the right commodity code for your goods
  6. and Work out the value of your goods

    When you make your import declaration, you’ll need to include the value of your goods - this helps work out how much duty and VAT you’ll need to pay.

    1. Work out the value of your goods for customs
  7. Step 5 Find out if you can reduce your Customs Duty

    You may be able to pay less or no Customs Duty if the UK has a trade agreement with the country you're importing from.

    1. Find out if you can pay a lower rate of Customs Duty because of a trade agreement

    You may also be able to reduce the amount of duty you pay based on what the goods are and what you plan to do with them.

    1. Check other ways you can pay a lower rate of Customs Duty
  8. and Find out if you can delay your Customs Duty

    You may be able to delay sending information about goods or paying Customs Duty.

    1. Check if you can delay your Customs Duty
  9. Step 6 Check if you need a licence or certificate for your goods

  10. Step 7 Check the labelling, marking and marketing rules

  11. Step 8 Get your goods through customs

    If you've appointed someone to deal with UK customs for you, they'll make the declaration and get your goods through the UK border.

    1. Make an import declaration yourself and get your goods cleared by UK customs
  12. Step 9 Claim a VAT refund

    If you're VAT registered, you can claim back any VAT you paid on the goods you've imported. You’ll need your Import VAT Certificate (C79).

    1. Find out how to claim a VAT refund
  13. Step 10 If you paid the wrong amount of duty or rejected the goods

    If you paid too much Customs Duty or import VAT or rejected the goods, you can claim a refund or ask for a payment to be waived.

    1. You are currently viewing: Find out how to claim a refund or make a claim for rejected imports

    If you paid too little Customs Duty or import VAT, report it to HMRC.

    1. Find out how to tell HMRC you’ve underpaid and pay the difference
  14. Step 11 Keep invoices and records

    You must keep records of commercial invoices and any customs paperwork, including your Import VAT Certificate (C79).

    If you imported controlled goods, for example firearms, keep any paperwork that shows who owns them.