Split consignments: Tariff classification and import procedures

How to use a single commodity code to import your goods in split consignments when importing large machinery or plant.


When importing large machinery or plant eg a car assembly line, a power station etc, it can be unrealistic to import the goods in a single consignment. Certain goods can be imported under a single tariff commodity code in separate consignments over a period of time.

Find out in this guide whether your goods qualify for import in split consignments, and the processes involved should you wish to import your goods in this way.

Goods that can be classified in split consignments

Goods that qualify for import in split consignments will be classified in the tariff heading that covers the complete machine or plant. You’ll firstly need to determine if the goods being imported are covered by one of the following chapters or headings:

Classification Description
Chapter 84 Machinery and mechanical appliances
Chapter 85 Electrical machinery and equipment
Heading 8608 Railway or tramway track fixtures and fittings; mechanical (including electromechanical) signalling, safety or traffic control equipment for railways, tramways, roads, inland waterways, parking facilities, port installations or airfields; parts of the foregoing
Heading 8805 Aircraft launching gear; deck-arrestor or similar gear; ground flying trainers; parts of the foregoing articles
Heading 8905 Light-vessels, fire floats, dredgers, floating cranes, and other vessels the navigability of which is subsidiary to their main function; floating docks; floating or submersible drilling or production platforms
Heading 8907 Other floating structures (for example, rafts, tanks, coffer-dams, landing stages, buoys and beacons)

Applying to import your goods in split consignments

When you are satisfied that the goods you intend to import are covered by one of the tariff chapters or headings listed above, you’ll need to apply in writing to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) at the following address:

HM Revenue and Customs

Tariff Classification Service
10th Floor
Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
SS99 1AA

It will be necessary to bear in mind the following points when applying:

  • the application must cover goods which, if they were being imported in a single consignment, would be classified under one tariff heading
  • the goods must be imported under the terms of a single contract between you as the importer and a single supplier (it may be possible for the supplier to sub-contract the supply of some components)
  • spare parts, accessories or any other additional components will not be included, and must be classified in their respective tariff headings
  • applications should be made at least one month before the expected date of arrival of the first consignment - if imports have begun before the application has been approved, it will not be possible to import the goods in split consignments

You’ll need to send HMRC the following information and documents with your application:

  • a copy of the order or contract relating to the purchase of the goods from the supplier
  • a detailed description of the goods that clearly identifies the function of the complete goods, this should include eg product data sheets, product specifications, photographs, a diagram identifying the main components and showing their precise physical relationship, etc
  • the expected dates of each import consignment, and ports of importation, this should include the expected date that the final consignment will be imported
  • the expected date(s) and place where the goods, once imported, will be assembled
  • the VAT/EORI number being used for the importation

HMRC will look at the information and documents you have sent, and will write and let you know whether or not you can import the goods in split consignments.

Information about completing customs entries

If the letter has said that the goods can be imported in split consignments, this will be on a provisional basis until the complete product has been imported. HMRC will have told you the single tariff commodity code to use for each separate consignment.

When completing customs entries, bear in mind the following Customs Procedure Codes (CPCs):

  • you need to use CPC 40 00 100 if the consignments are being imported from outside the EU
  • you need to use CPC 43 00 001 if the consignments are in free circulation within the EU


A duty deposit (including any anti-dumping duty) will be taken on each consignment to cover the liability of the goods had they been individually classified, this will also cover any valuation questions, see below.


You’ll need to pay VAT at import unless you have approval to use the duty deferment facility.

The following documents must be provided with each customs split consignments entry:

  • HMRC’s letter authorising the import of the goods in split consignments
  • commercial documents specified in the customs tariff
  • full details of the composition of the consignment
  • a description of the complete imported product of which each consignment is a part
  • the order or contract reference
  • confirmation of which consignment this is eg third part shipment

You may submit a worksheet with your calculations of a reasonable deposit. HMRC will make a final decision on the appropriate duty liability.

Read more about import VAT guidance in Notice 702, VAT and import duty deferment in Notice 101 or read the guide on imports from outside the EU.

After the complete product has been imported: action required Post Clearance

When the complete product has been imported, you need to send a complete list of the customs entries to HMRC including customs entry numbers and dates, and the ports of entry. The information should be sent to the following address:

HM Revenue and Customs

Tariff Classification Service
10th Floor
Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
SS99 1AA

HMRC may check to ensure that the goods have been imported using the appropriate procedures. If satisfied, they’ll advise you and adjust the deposits paid on the import of each separate consignment.

HMRC may find that the appropriate procedures have not been followed eg the imported components are not eligible goods. If this happens, HMRC will advise you and charge duty on each consignment according to the liability of its contents. HMRC may need to contact you if they don’t have all the necessary information.

HMRC will take into account any valuation aspects when the deposits are adjusted.

If the total amount of the duty liability exceeds the total amount paid in deposits, it will be necessary to pay the additional duty.


If, as will normally be the case, duty is chargeable on an ‘ad valorem’ basis, enquiries may be necessary to establish the basis of value for customs purposes as well as to check that the total of the declared invoice values for each part shipment is in agreement with the overall contract price. You can find more information about the customs valuation of imported goods in our guide on how to value your imports for Customs Duty and trade statistics.

Special cases

Even if the goods had been imported fully assembled in a single consignment, HMRC may find that the goods would have comprised more than one article for tariff classification purposes.

If so, and the appropriate criteria is met, the split consignment procedure may be allowed with each eligible article being classified as a ‘complete’ product, rather than classifying on the basis of its constituent parts. If the articles are classified in different tariff headings, you’ll have to indicate their individual values. In these circumstances, post clearance action detailed above remains applicable.

Goods arriving from other EU member states

Goods in free circulation may also benefit from split consignment arrangements. The same procedures and provisions apply as for goods imported from outside the EU with the following exceptions:

  • Customs Duty is not payable, so no deposits of duty will be payable on consignments
  • post clearance action will not be applicable

CPC 43 00 001 must be used.

Goods imported under preference arrangements

The EU has preference agreements with various countries which enable certain goods imported from those countries to be admitted free of Customs Duty or at reduced rates.

The documents necessary to establish preference entitlement depend upon the type of preference claimed and are detailed in the guide. In the following paragraphs, these documents are referred to collectively as ‘movement certificates’.

You can find more information below on the other EU preferences referred to in the guide. CPC 40 00 100 must be used.

You can find more information about importing goods under preference arrangements in the guide Trade preference agreements: import and export .

Importing goods in split consignments and preference

Preference entitlement is linked to tariff classification; a movement certificate normally covers a single consignment and is valid only if the consignment is entered according to the proper classification of its individual contents. Therefore, subject to some exceptions, preference requirements are incompatible with the provisions of importing goods in split consignments, which can only be obtained at the expense of any preference entitlement.

In certain circumstances, preference regulations permit an article imported in multiple consignments, to be covered by a single movement certificate and benefit from import in split consignments and preference. To qualify, an article must be:

  • imported from a single preference country
  • classified in Section XVI (Chapter 84 or 85 of the Tariff)

If your goods qualify and you wish to import your goods in split consignments, you’ll need to follow the procedures described earlier in this guide and also the procedures detailed below.

You must claim preference at the time of entry. The complete importation must be covered by a single valid movement certificate which should be presented with the entry for the first consignment. For subsequent consignments, the entry box on the import declaration for additional information should be endorsed: ‘Preference documents with …..’ (number, date and port of first entry). The correct preference code still needs to be entered in Box 36. You can read about preference at the time of entry in Tariff preference agreements: import and export.

A deposit will not be payable if the goods qualify for duty-free admission on the basis of a valid movement certificate. When a valid movement certificate is not immediately available for production with the initial entry, a duty deposit will be taken on each consignment calculated at the full duty rate. A duty deposit will also be required to obtain the release of any subsequent consignment entered before the production of the movement certificate.

If HMRC provisionally allowed you to import the goods in split consignments, and the classification (the tariff commodity code) is later found to be incorrect, the movement certificate may be invalidated. If this happens, preference will only be available if you can obtain a suitably amended movement certificate from the issuing authority in the exporting preference country.

If enquiries after the complete product had been imported (post clearance) revealed that the goods should not have been classified in split consignments, duty will be payable on each consignment according to the individual liability of its contents, except where goods are eligible in their own right for preferential treatment. In the latter case, you must obtain a retrospectively issued movement certificate for each eligible consignment.

When the complete product has been imported and HMRC is satisfied that the total transaction qualifies for duty free importation, HMRC may waive some or all of the procedures described in ‘What happens after the complete product has been imported’.

If you are importing goods from Turkey, the same provisions apply as for those in free circulation from within the EU. To confirm if your goods qualify read, Notice 812 on European Community Preferences: Trade with Turkey.

The legal provisions listed below are applicable to goods imported in split consignments.


Consignments imported from outside the EU – 40 00 100

Consignments in free circulation within the EU – 43 00 001

General Interpretative Rule 2(a)

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as presented, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. It shall also be taken to include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this rule), presented unassembled or disassembled.

Additional Note 3 to Section XVI

The provisions of general rule 2(a) are also applicable, at the request of the declarant and subject to conditions stipulated by the competent authorities, to machines imported in split consignments.

Note 5 to Section XVI

For the purposes of these notes, the expression ’machine’ means any machine, machinery, plant, equipment, apparatus or appliance cited in the headings of Chapter 84 or 85.

Additional Note 2 to Section XVII

The provisions of general rule 2(a) are also applicable, at the request of the declarant and subject to conditions stipulated by the competent authorities, to goods of headings 8608, 8805, 8905 and 8907 imported in split consignments.

Published 23 April 2014