You must submit Supplementary Declarations (SDs) when you're importing or exporting to work out how much duty you owe.
A Supplementary Declaration (SD) is a post-shipment declaration that provides information used to control and work out duty for export and import consignments, as well as to gather statistical data on international trade. This guide explains the three different types of SD, and when traders must complete each one.
Tips are given on the most efficient way to submit declarations. This guide also explains how the information traders give is used to work out the duty they must pay. You will also find information on the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system, enforcement of HMRC procedures and sources of more advice and support.
What are Supplementary Declarations and when do you use them?
Intrastat SDs are used to gather information that provides statistics for movements of goods within the EU.
Import and export SDs are used for trading outside the EU. HMRC also use simplified import and export SDs to process the financial aspects of customs procedures. This page explains when you need to complete an SD and which one you should use. It also outlines the ways you can submit declarations so you can choose the most efficient way for your business.
VAT-registered businesses that trade goods within the EU over the current threshold must submit an Intrastat declaration each month.
If your business exceeds the threshold for Arrivals of goods (purchases) but not for Dispatches (sales), you only have to complete SDs for Arrivals. If your Dispatches exceed the threshold, you only have to include Dispatches on your SD. If both Arrivals and Dispatches exceed the threshold, you must submit one SD for each. Intrastat thresholds are reviewed annually. The thresholds are £1.5 million for Arrivals and £250,000 for Dispatches.
Once you have reached either threshold, you must submit SDs until the end of the year. You only have to submit SDs the following year if your trade for the calendar year just ending exceeds the new threshold. The threshold is reviewed annually.
See the guide on Intrastat - reporting the value and volume of intra-EU trade.
Find instructions on submitting your return in the guide on how to complete your Intrastat Supplementary Declaration.
If your business goes through a period where you have no EU trade, you do not have to submit a ‘nil’ return, but it will help you avoid unnecessary queries if you do submit a nil return. Find further information in the guide on how to complete the Intrastat return and EC sales list.
Supplementary Declarations for import
When you import goods from outside the EU, you are required to submit an SD so customs can work out how much you owe them. You must submit a summary or simplified declaration when the goods arrive in the UK followed by a supplementary or full declaration after a specified period of time.
Traders may use SDs within Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP) so customs can determine how much duty and tax is payable, read more about CFSP in Notice 760.
SDs for export
All goods exported from the UK to non-EU member states must be declared to customs. Customs officers use export declarations to support the monthly balance of trade figures and calculate export refunds for schemes such as Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). VAT can be zero-rated for exports to a third country (including EFTA states and the special territories of the EU). Export declarations are also used to check restricted goods and to make sure that EU requirements are met. Agricultural traders must complete a full export declaration for all CAP exports, regardless of destination.
Export declarations must be fully completed unless you are authorised to operate under National Export System (NES) simplified procedures. NES simplified procedures allow for the submission of abbreviated export declarations prior to shipment, followed by SDs after the goods have left the UK. See the guide on export declarations and the National Export System.
How does an SD fit into the process of making an import or export?
Several customs processes take place before and after traders submit an SD. For import and export, the order is:
- application and authorisation (simplified import/export procedures)
- Simplified Frontier Declaration
- Supplementary Declaration
- post-clearance audit
Find out about related customs processes in the guide on how to value your imports for customs duty and trade statistics.
Intrastat for trade within the EU
This page explains when you need to complete an Intrastat declaration. It also tells you what records you need to keep so you can include details in your declaration, and how to get the numeric codes you need to complete the paperwork.
Intrastat is the method of collecting information and producing statistics on the export and import of goods between member states of the European Union (EU). For Intrastat, supplies of goods to other EU member states are called ‘Dispatches’ and goods acquired from another member state are called ‘Arrivals’. For information on Intrastat, see the guide on completing the Intrastat return and EC sales list.
Intrastat is only applicable to VAT-registered traders. Within Intrastat there are thresholds setting the amount of information you need to supply. If your trade in goods within the EU exceeds the current threshold over a calendar year period, you must submit Intrastat SDs monthly.
The Intrastat thresholds for sales and purchases are reviewed every year, so you should make sure you are always aware of the current threshold.
Find out about Intrastat thresholds in the guide on an introduction to Intrastat.
When you fill out an Intrastat SD, you need to provide in-depth details of all goods. You should maintain careful records because you will need to declare:
- the value of the goods (in sterling)
- the commodity code
- where the goods came from or where they went
- either their weight, including immediate packaging or a supplementary unit (depending on the commodity code used)
- the Nature of Transaction Code (NoTC)
Details of commodity codes and whether you are required to supply details of the weight or supplementary unit for the goods can be found in the Intrastat Classification Nomenclature. You will also need to provide a delivery terms code if your threshold exceeds £24 million. Find out about the Intrastat and terms in the guide on Intrastat - reporting the value and volume of intra-EU trade.
If you prefer, you can file your Intrastat SDs online using the uktradeinfo website.
Electronic Intrastat declarations
This page explains the benefits to the trader of completing Intrastat declarations online. It describes the different ways you can submit forms online and which electronic form to choose so you can find the most efficient way to make your declarations.
You or your agent can send your Intrastat SDs electronically offering a number of benefits:
- you can fill in and send data as frequently as you like
- once your submission is complete and sent off electronically, you receive a reference number
- you will be able to look at previous SDs you have sent - this enables you to check codes to use in future declarations
There are two methods of submitting Intrastat SDs electronically.
This method is suitable for agents, traders and individual branches of larger businesses that send data independently from their head office. You need to register for a username and password. You can complete the forms either online or offline, and submit as many SDs as you like each month. Find out about internet submission of Intrastat SDs in the guide on Intrastat - technology and technicalities.
There are two types of online form:
- arrival SD, for accepting goods into the UK
- dispatch SD, for sending goods elsewhere in the EU
You can submit a file offline using a CSV file that is created using HMRC’s ready-to-use Excel spreadsheet which users can save as a CSV file and upload through the internet application.
Electronic Data Interchange submission
You can also send the required information as an attachment to an email. This is called an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Find out about EDI in the guide on Intrastat Electronic Submissions.
Supplementary Declarations and Customs Freight Simplified Procedures
Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP) is a simplified electronic way to clear imported goods. It can be used at the frontier, when goods are entered to or removed from a customs warehouse (an approved warehouse for goods liable to customs and excise duty), traders’ designated premises, or when they are moved to or from a Free Zone (an approved area where imported goods may be stored without payment of VAT or import duty).
CFSP simplifies customs import procedures, offering a variety of options which can be used in isolation or in combination, according to your requirements.
CFSP allow authorised traders to gain accelerated removal or release of most third country imports (that is from a country outside the EU) by making a simplified declaration. Read more about CFSP in Notice 760.
To use CFSP, you must apply for specific or general authorisation to operate the simplified procedures. Read the eligibility criteria for authorisation to trade under CFSP in Notice 760.
To be authorised, traders will have to show that they meet enhanced conditions regarding accounting systems and records, customs compliance and financial solvency. These enhanced criteria will need to be in place in your business before HMRC can grant authorisation - customs officers may visit your premises to verify your systems and paperwork.
The advantages of CFSP are:
- you can usually expect faster release of your goods from Customs
- you can combine CFSP with normal entry and warehouse procedures to suit the needs of your business
- you can control your cashflow by choosing your own convenient tax point date
- electronic submission of declarations will save you time because paperwork will be reduced and you will receive faster replies
- if you are not authorised to use CFSP, you can use an agent who is to submit electronic declarations for you, saving your business time
Most imported third country goods are eligible for CFSP. However, certain goods and procedures have been excluded. These include goods considered dangerous or under a United Nations embargo. Find out which goods are excluded from CFSP in Notice 760. If you wish to apply to use CFSP and/or simplified export procedures, you can find form C&E 48.
Submitting SDs for imports from outside the EU
This page explains why a SD for importing is needed, how it can be submitted and when HMRC requires it to be submitted.
Simplified Frontier Declarations
When you import goods from outside the EU, under the simplified import procedure you are required to submit an SD after you have made an initial Simplified Frontier Declaration (SFD). The SFD is used to declare goods at the frontier. SFDs are submitted electronically. However, for controlled drugs, excise goods and other controlled goods a hard copy of the SFD and supporting documentation is also required at the frontier.
Timing of SDs
An SD will be required within a specified period of time after you have made an SFD. The SD enables HMRC to work out how much you owe in duty and taxes. HMRC also use the information to gather statistics about the movement of goods. Find detailed information on SDs.
How to submit an SD
The SD must be submitted electronically through an HMRC portal. To submit your SD, you will need to be able to access the CHIEF system.
You must submit your SD electronically to the CHIEF system. You can submit your SDs singly or in batches. CHIEF will respond electronically to your SD submission by sending you an acceptance and a calculation of how much you owe. The acceptance message is called a Customs Response Message (CUSRES).
To find out more about the ways you can access CHIEF, see the guide on UK’s import and export processing system CHIEF.
Your SD must be sent and accepted by CHIEF before the end of the fourth working day of the month after your SFD was accepted, or the date of entry in the local clearance records.
If you are unable to submit an SD within the correct time period, you must report the facts to the CFSP National Assurance Team (CNAT). All errors must be corrected. The updated SD must be resubmitted to CHIEF, and a CUSRES received by the importer before the end of the reporting period. All queries on the SD must be cleared before you can submit your Final Supplementary Declaration.
Adjustments to an SD can be made after a final acceptance by contacting the CNAT. For enquiries about adjusting an SD you can email email@example.com
SDs for export purposes and the National Export System
This page explains the main procedures for submitting export declarations.
If your business exports goods from the UK to outside the EU, you must use the NES. As part of the existing CHIEF system, NES was set up to simplify and modernise export procedures to countries outside the EU. Read the background to NES.
NES is the electronic exports processing system that operates three main procedures.
Standard full pre-entry procedure
Traders or their agents complete a full pre-shipment declaration. It can be filled in using the electronic CHIEF system or manually on Customs Form C88. The declaration and the goods must be processed by Customs before being loaded for export. Clearance for export is known as Permission to Progress.
Simplified Declaration Procedure (SDP)
The SDP allows authorised traders and their authorised representatives to declare goods for export by submitting an abbreviated Pre-Shipment Advice (PSA) SDP to CHIEF. This must be supported by a full electronic SD within 14 days following shipment. It is important to note that SDP cannot be used for Common Agricultural Policy Exports.
Local Clearance Procedure (LCP)
The LCP allows authorised traders or their authorised representatives to have goods cleared for export at their own or other approved inland premises. You can submit either full LCP export declarations or an LPC PSA followed by a full SD within 14 days of shipment.
All declarations made using SDP or LCP procedures must be submitted electronically to CHIEF. Manual declarations must not be used. To apply to use SDP or LCP you must use an NES application form C&E48.
If you are using the SAD you may need to add extra details, particularly if you enter your goods to a customs warehouse. If you make customs declarations through a software package, either in house or through a third party supplier, you must use updated software.
Read the guide to declarations and the SAD.
If you are having difficulty using the NES, see the guide on export declarations and the National Export System.
Responsibilities of traders and agents, enforcement and customs civil penalties
Traders must supply HMRC with correct information and comply with customs rules and regulations. This page explains the type of information that traders must supply and the types of penalties that HMRC may impose if they do not, as well as how to appeal against a penalty. See the guide on customs seizures and penalties.
Exporters and their agents must be aware that under current law they are responsible for:
- the accuracy of information given in declarations
- the authenticity of documents relating to exports
- compliance with all obligations relating to the goods
HMRC uses a system of Customs Civil Evasion Penalties (CCEPs) to encourage businesses involved in international trade to comply with customs legal and procedural requirements, such as ensuring that all information provided is accurate. Being issued with a penalty does not mean HMRC believes a business is behaving dishonestly or intends not to comply with the law. As an example of penalty costs, the penalty provided is £2,500 per contravention for ‘serious’ irregularities, such as a delay in informing Customs imported goods have arrived in the UK.
Your first contravention may result in a warning letter. The letter will stay on your file for two years. If there is a contravention the same or broadly similar within those two years, you may be issued with a penalty demand. A warning letter for deficiencies in your systems or records sets out what is to be done and by when. The deadline is set to allow the trader time to rectify the deficiency. If the trader fails to comply, a penalty may be issued. Find information on the warning process in Notice 301 civil penalties for contraventions of customs law.
Read Notice 300 for more information on how CCEP investigations operate.
You may have to pay a penalty if you contravene a duty, obligation or requirement under UK or European Community law. Notice 301 provides more information on the CCEP process including when you might face a penalty, how contraventions are established, calculated and notified. It also explains the concepts of reasonable excuse and mitigation.
Schedules containing details of the relevant rules, descriptions of the person liable and the maximum penalty amount that may be charged for the breach are available from HMRC. Read schedules of CCP contraventions in Notice 301.
If you disagree with the issuing of a Warning Letter or Penalty Demand, you can ask HMRC to review your case. HMRC may consider that you had a reasonable excuse for the error, in which case no penalty will be issued. To appeal, you must write, within 45 days of the date on the letter or penalty demand to:
National CIT Appeals Team
HM Revenue and Customs
7th Floor South
27 Victoria Avenue
There may also be mitigating circumstances which resulted in the error. HMRC may take this into account and can consider reducing the penalty. Find out about penalties, appeals and reasonable excuses in Notice 301.
For Intrastat declarations, penalties are seen as a last resort, but they may be imposed where SDs are persistently late, missing, inaccurate or incomplete. Although a penalty could result in court proceedings, HMRC normally prefers to ‘compound’ alleged Intrastat offences by issuing a fine. However, a fine is only offered when, after receiving a Notice of Intended Prosecution, a business has brought its Intrastat declarations completely up to date.
Help and advice for traders
This guide provides an introduction to SDs for export and import purposes and for Intrastat returns. For more information and specific help and advice, there are some useful websites and telephone helplines you can contact.
HM Revenue and Customs
HMRC has a comprehensive website with a wide variety of guides and public notices. For general enquiries, you can call the HMRC VAT Helpline on Telephone: 0300 200 3700. You can also contact the NES Helpline on Telephone: 029 2032 6371 for export enquiries. If you have hearing difficulties you can use the HMRC VAT Helpline on Telephone: 0300 200 3700.
HMRC also operates a Tariff Classification Helpdesk which you can email at firstname.lastname@example.org
uktradeinfo is part of HMRC. It is responsible for producing trade statistics and provides support for international trade. Find out about how uktradeinfo can help you on the uktradeinfo website.
You can email the uktradeinfo Data Helpdesk The website provides a free email alert service that gives information on UK import and export trade. Find out about the free email alert on the uktradeinfo website.
Find out about the free help HMRC provides to traders to complete their Intrastat SD when goods have left or entered the UK in the guide on Intrastat Services.
Excise and Customs Helpline
Telephone: 0300 200 3700
Telephone: 029 2032 6371
National Post Clearance Team Fax
Telephone: 0113 389 4490
HMRC Excise and Customs Helpline
Telephone: 0300 200 3700
HMRC TURN Team Helpline
Telephone: 01792 634 004