Guidance

Setting up an account to defer duty payments when you import goods

Find out how to set up a duty deferment account so you can delay paying most customs charges.

If you import goods regularly, you can apply for a duty deferment account to delay paying most customs charges. For example:

  • Customs Duty
  • excise duty
  • import VAT
  • Common Agricultural Policy levies

A duty deferment account lets you make one payment a month through Direct Debit instead of paying for individual consignments.

You can apply for a duty deferment account if you’re an importer or someone who represents importers, and have an authorised guarantee in place.

How to apply

If you want to defer VAT

If you want to defer VAT you must:

  1. Decide whether you want to reduce financial guarantees using Simplified Import VAT Accounting.

  2. Apply for a duty deferment account and guarantee.

  3. Ask your bank, building society or insurance company to guarantee your duty payments.

  4. Fill in a Direct Debit instruction and send it to the address on the form.

You’ll get a deferment approval number to use on your import declarations.

If you want to defer Customs Duty

If you want to defer Customs Duty you must:

  1. Apply for a duty deferment account and guarantee.

  2. Ask your bank, building society or insurance company to guarantee your duty payments.

  3. Fill in a Direct Debit instruction and send it to the address on the form.

You’ll get a deferment approval number to use on your import declarations.

If you want to defer an excise duty

If you want to defer an excise duty (such as tobacco, alcohol or certain oils) you must:

  1. Decide whether you want to reduce financial guarantees using the Excise Payment Security System.

  2. Apply for a duty deferment account and guarantee.

  3. Ask your bank, building society or insurance company to guarantee your duty payments.

  4. Fill in a Direct Debit instruction and send it to the address on the form.

You’ll get a deferment approval number to use on your import declarations.

After you’ve applied

Authorise someone to use your deferment approval number

Authorise your freight forwarder or someone to request deferment of duty payment against your deferment approval number.

Get copies of your duty deferment statements

HMRC will send you your statements every month by post.

You can also get copies of your duty deferment statements online.

To sign up, you need a Government Gateway user ID and password. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you sign up.

Cancel or amend your details

Customs Duty or VAT

To cancel or amend your application, write to:

HM Revenue and Customs
Customs Comprehensive Guarantee Team
Ralli Quays
3 Stanley Street
Manchester
M60 9LA

Excise duty only

To cancel or amend your application, write to:

HM Revenue and Customs
Central Deferment Office
8th Floor Central, Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
Southend on Sea
SS99 1AA

Published 30 August 2019
  1. Step 1 Check if you need to follow this process

    There are several tasks you need to do before you can get goods through customs.

    1. Check the whole process for importing goods from countries outside the EU

    Most businesses that import goods hire a transporter or customs agent to make the import declaration and clear their goods through UK customs.

  2. Step 2 Set up your business for making customs declarations

    The business importing the goods and any transporter or customs agent acting on their behalf both need an EORI number.

    1. Get an EORI number

    You'll use the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system to make a declaration. You'll need to both:

    You can apply for simplified declaration procedures and for Authorised Economic Operator status. These are most suitable for businesses that import goods regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you
  3. and Register to import goods with restrictions

  4. Step 3 Set up a duty deferment account if you import regularly

    Set up a duty deferment account if you want to be able to make one payment of customs duties a month instead of paying for individual shipments.

    You must set one up if you use simplified procedures.

    1. You are currently viewing: Set up a duty deferment account
  5. Step 4 Arrange for the goods to be inspected

    You need to choose a place where the goods can be inspected if you import things like plant or animal products. This needs to happen before they’re allowed through the UK border.

    1. Find an inspection point for animals and animal products
    2. Find an inspection point for plants, plant products, seeds and wood
    3. Find an inspection point for high risk food and feed that is not of animal origin
    4. Find an inspection point for endangered species, or products made from endangered plants or animals

    You need to let the inspection point know when the goods are arriving. You might have to pay a fee for the inspection.

    1. Find out what rules you need to follow to get the goods inspected
  6. Step 5 Submit the import declaration

  7. Step 6 Pay VAT and duty

    HMRC will tell you how much to pay after you submit the declaration.

    1. Find out how and when to pay VAT and duty
  8. Step 7 Get the goods released if they're held up at the border

    The goods will be held at the border, for example if:

    • you have not paid the right amount of duty or VAT
    • you do not have the right import licences for the goods or business
    • they did not pass inspection
    • they've been combined with a shipment that has been held up

    If this happens you will be told why.

    1. Contact the National Clearance Hub to get help