Business tax – guidance

Temporary admission

Re-exporting goods imported from outside the EU may make them eligible for complete or partial relief on duty and import VAT.

Introduction

Temporary admission (TA) is useful if you temporarily import goods such as samples, professional equipment or items for auction, exhibition or demonstration into the UK. Provided you don’t alter the goods whilst they’re within the EU, using TA should mean you won’t have to pay duty or import VAT.

Eligibility for TA relief is based on the type of goods concerned and their use before they’re re-exported. Conditions on ownership may also apply. You can’t use TA to import goods to process or repair them. Relief for this may be available under Inward Processing (IP).

An ATA carnet may also be used to claim relief under TA for goods temporarily imported from specific countries. Using an ATA carnet replaces the normal customs documents that would otherwise be required on import and re-export.

TA is used across the EU. In the UK the responsible authority is HM Revenue & Customs.

Goods eligible for TA

If your goods don’t fall into any of the categories in Notice 3001, you may still be able to claim partial relief subject to certain conditions, provided they’re still intended to be used and re-exported outside the EU.

Most types of goods can be imported under TA and used for up to 2 years, although there are more restricted periods for:

  • replacement means of production
  • goods for approval
  • goods subject to acceptance tests

You must be authorised to claim relief under TA and your application must be made in the EU country where the goods are first used. Check which authorisation method most closely suits your business needs.

In most cases, you’ll need to provide a guarantee when using TA - equal to the duty and import VAT due on importation. Subject to certain conditions, you can reclaim this once the goods have been re-exported. If you apply for partial relief, a proportion of the customs duties due will be deducted from the guarantee taken for each month the goods remain in the EU.

If you’re temporarily importing goods from the special territories of the EU - that is, those inside the EU for customs duty purposes but not for VAT - you may still be able to use TA.

The special territories are:

  • Aland islands
  • Guadeloupe
  • Andorra (Chapter 25 onwards of the Trade Tariff)
  • Martinique
  • Canary Islands
  • Mount Athos (Agion Poros)
  • Channel Islands
  • Reunion
  • French Guiana
  • San Marino

Authorisation for TA

You must have TA authorised in the EU country where the goods are first used. If this is the UK, in many cases, the application for authorisation can be made at the time of importation.

There are various methods of authorisation, each with specific requirements.

You need to consider the following to find the best type of authorisation for you:

  • whether partial or total relief applies
  • whether you intend to import goods regularly
  • whether you intend to use the goods in the UK and then in other EU member states

Third parties

Shipping agents or freight forwarders can enter goods into TA on your behalf, but you must give them clear written instructions on how to proceed. They can use one of the following:

  • direct representation - where the goods are entered into TA on your behalf and you remain liable for any import duties that may become due if mistakes are made
  • indirect representation - where the agent or forwarder makes the entry in their name and you’re both liable for any duty if mistakes are made

Retrospective authorisation

In exceptional circumstances, you may be able to apply for TA authorisation after goods have been imported. You’ll have to prove there are ‘exceptional’ circumstances - a general oversight isn’t accepted.

Each case is considered individually and you have to prove the goods are eligible for TA.

Select suitable authorisation for TA

There are several types of authorisation for TA. You should find out which is the most suitable option for you and for the type of goods you’re importing.

For more information of the types of authorisation see Notice 3001.

Authorisation by Declaration

With an Authorisation by Declaration each entry is a separate application for authorisation. If you’re importing regularly or import a variety of different goods for different uses, you may prefer to apply for full authorisation.

Authorisation by Declaration involving more than one member state

Authorisation by Declaration involving more than one member state is a simplified authorisation extended to cover goods you’ll use in the UK before using them for the same purpose in other EU countries. You can also include other users within the EU who’ll use the goods on your behalf.

Full authorisation

Full authorisation can be used if you regularly import goods under TA where all entries to TA and all uses under TA are carried out within the UK. It must be applied for and approved before goods are imported using form SP5.

You can use full authorisation to cover a number of import transactions simultaneously or over a given period under one or more TA reliefs. This can reduce paperwork and security management and enables you to apply for certain simplifications - for example Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP) or those permitted under the National Export System (NES).

Authorisation involving more than one member state

Authorisation involving more than one member state must be applied for and approved before goods are imported using an EU model format application form. It can be used if you regularly import goods used by you or other named users on your behalf within the EU during the course of their stay subsequent to being used in the UK.

Oral declarations

Oral declarations can only be used for certain types of goods and uses, such as television production or broadcasting equipment imported by non-EU public or private organisations.

Declaration by any other act

Declaration by any other act requires no formal customs declaration but this can only be used in limited cases for certain types of goods and uses - for example non-EU travellers’ personal effects of less than €10,000 in value.

Guarantees

You’ll usually have to supply a guarantee equal to the amount of the duty and import VAT which would normally be payable on the goods imported.

There are exceptions for specific types of TA reliefs - you can read more about this in Notice 3001.

The guarantee can be in the form of a cash deposit or bank guarantee. Regular importers can lodge a single guarantee which is adjusted as goods enter and leave TA. You can find out which methods of payment can be used by checking the TA customs procedure codes (CPC) in the Trade Tariff.

You can reclaim your guarantee by providing specific evidence the goods have been re-exported, transferred to another authorised TA trader or declared to another customs procedure, provided all the conditions relating to their import under TA have been met.

Temporarily admitting goods using an ATA carnet can simplify customs clearances in dispatching and receiving countries as it replaces the need to complete the customs declarations normally required. It also provides a guarantee for the customs charges potentially due in each country you visit. You can find out which countries use the ATA carnet system in Notice 104.

You can find out about using ATA carnets in the guide on ATA and CPD carnets.

Transferring your rights and Obligations (TORO) and moving TA goods

If you’re using TORO you’ll need to contact your supervising office in advance. They’ll tell you what formalities are required.

Movements within the same authorisation, different authorisations, and/or in the same member state or between member states

You can move goods by using simple commercial documents.

Declaring TA relief goods to IP, free circulation or customs warehousing

You can declare TA goods to IP or customs warehousing or divert them to free circulation by completing a C88 (SAD) quoting the relevant CPC for the intended procedure.

Re-exporting TA goods

Notice 3001 tells you about relief from customs charges under TA.

You must follow specific procedures when you re-export the goods you have imported under TA in order to discharge your responsibility for duty and import VAT on those goods.

Except for goods declared by any other act or by oral declaration, goods must be pre-entered before they’re re-exported, unless you’re using simplified procedures, in which case you must use a pre-shipment advice. You should also complete a Single Administrative Document (SAD) re-export declaration. You must ensure you use the correct TA re-export CPC.

For postal exports, mark the packages ‘TA goods’ with your TA authorisation number and VAT number. You should also obtain proof of postage stamped by the Royal Mail as evidence of re-export.

If the goods are being re-exported via another EU member state, make sure an Export Accompanying Document (EAD) travels with the goods.

If your goods are subject to import licences, you may have to get approval to re-export from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Import Licensing Branch. If you have cultural goods or a motor vehicle over 50 years old you may need an export licence from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Read the guide on licences and enforcement for international trading for more information.

Rules for TA of non-EU transport vehicles, civil aircraft, seagoing vessels, pallets and containers

Transport vehicles - such as cars, motorbikes, caravans, trains, civil aircraft and seagoing vessels - can be brought into TA when they’re used as commercial or private transport by non EU residents. TA for use by EU residents is only available in certain circumstances and for very limited periods.

If means of transport are temporarily imported other than for transport use, the specific TA relief for means of transport will not be applicable. For example, if a yacht is temporarily imported for a boat show, the TA relief for exhibitions would be applicable.

If the importation is for the purposes of major overhaul, refitting or refurbishment, it won’t be eligible for TA. Consider using Inward Processing instead.

You should also bear in mind the TA relief for means of transport covers spare parts and the accessories that accompany them. If you need to import spares or parts at a later date for means of transport already entered to TA relief, you’ll need to declare these separately and consider using the TA relief for spare parts, accessories and equipment for these.

Notice 3001 has more information for importers of means of transport for private or commercial use.

You may be able to claim total relief on means of transport - whether powered or not - provided:

  • it’s registered outside the customs territory of the EU in the name of a person established outside that territory 
  • if it’s not registered it must be owned  by a person established outside the customs territory of the EU
  • it’s used by someone established outside the customs territory of the EU
  • if it’s being used commercially, its journeys begin or end outside the customs territory of the EU

In certain circumstances a person established within the customs territory of the EU may be eligible for total relief, for example where it’s:

  • for use in an emergency not exceeding 5 days
  • entered by a professional hire service and expected to be re-exported within 5 days
  • to be used by an EU person preparing to emigrate outside the EU within 3 months

Pallets and containers

If you use pallets or containers originating outside the EU that are temporarily imported into the EU to transport or carry non-EU goods within the EU or to export goods from the EU, you can enter them into TA. They must remain in the same condition except for any natural depreciation through use.

In certain circumstances containers may be used in internal traffic to transport goods within the same EU country but this is limited to one journey. EU pallets and containers that are duty and tax paid within the EU don’t need to be entered to TA. Notice 3001 tells you about the TA of non EU pallets and containers.