Guidance

Using simplified declarations for imports

Find out about the different simplified declarations for imports and what you need for authorisation to use them.

You can make a simplified declaration when your goods arrive at a EU port or airport. This is called ‘presenting’ your goods to customs.

The first part of your declaration does not need as much information as a full declaration. When the first part’s approved, your goods can be cleared through customs.

You’ll still need to give customs more information, but you send it later in a supplementary declaration. This lets customs work out the VAT and duty you’ll need to pay.

Types of declaration

There are 2 declaration types you can use.

Simplified declaration procedure

The first part of this procedure is the simplified frontier declaration.

You use this to clear goods for free circulation or to move them into these special procedures:

  • storage such as customs warehousing
  • inward processing
  • authorised use
  • temporary admission

Find out how to make a simplified frontier declaration.

Entry in the declarant’s records

You can clear your goods into free circulation by entering their details in your own records. However, you cannot do this when they are subject to excise duty suspension.

You can also use this process to clear goods into these special procedures:

  • inward processing
  • authorised use
  • temporary admission

Find out how to make a declaration in your own records.

If you’re making a single supplementary declaration that covers more than one frontier declaration, you’ll have to submit a final supplementary declaration.

Find out about other declarations you can make.

What you’ll need

To use simplified declarations for imports, you’ll need:

Who can apply

The authorisation conditions are different for each procedure.

Simplified declaration procedures

To become authorised to make these declarations, you need to:

  • have a good customs compliance record, including VAT returns and duty deferments
  • have a regular pattern of customs declarations against your Economic Operator Registration and Identification number
  • show how you’ll keep within your deferment account limit, including how you’ll calculate revenue due (for example, Anti-Dumping Duty)
  • show how you’ll identify and report any errors found after you’ve submitted your final supplementary declaration to the simplified customs procedures National Assurance Team, where applicable
  • show how you’ll record all declarations for no less than 4 years after their submission date

Entry in the declarant’s records

With this procedure, you have to meet the same conditions that apply for simplified declaration procedures.

You must also show that:

  • you manage your business in a way that allows customs to make effective compliance checks – for example, how you maintain the audit trail, how your business records are backed up and kept secure and how you identify and handle errors related to the flow of goods and use of customs agents
  • you can carry out declarations procedures to a professional standard
  • the applicant, directors and senior employees are free of any criminal records that would prevent HMRC from giving authorisation
  • you have procedures in place to ensure you do not import prohibited goods
  • you have licences for restricted goods, if needed

You’ll also need to allow customs to audit your system, providing staff access to a suitable office, a toilet and car parking, free of charge, if requested. This is for either simplified declaration procedures or entry in your records applications.

Using someone to make declarations for you

If you’re not authorised to make simplified declarations, you can get someone else to make them for you.

You can only do this when your goods are being declared for free circulation after import.

You will also be entirely responsible for VAT and Customs Duty payments.

Amendments to Customs Freight Simplified Procedure (CFSP) Liability rules

After Brexit, customs agents and intermediaries will be able to use their own simplified authorisations on behalf of importers who do not have authorisation. Customs agents and intermediaries will not incur joint liability and the importer will be solely liable for unpaid VAT or customs duties. This only applies to goods declared to free circulation after import.

UK established customs agents and intermediaries must ensure the importer:

  • is established in the UK
  • gives permission to act on their behalf
  • holds a valid EORI number that starts GB
  • holds a duty deferment account which must be used for payment
  • has a financial guarantee by 30 April 2020 for any duty deferred

You must keep evidence to show that the requirements are being met, we may ask to see this evidence.

This is a temporary change and we will give you 12 months’ notice before making any further changes.

Current CFSP holders must notify HMRC if they intend to act directly for a customer who isn’t authorised and send confirmation that they meet the above criteria to:

Leeds Authorisation and Returns Team
3 Wellington Place
Leeds
LS1 4AP

For large businesses please contact your Customer Compliance Manager.

Traders and intermediaries can apply for grant funding towards the cost of training to help them complete the customs declarations that will be required for UK trade with the EU after we leave. For more information on the traders and intermediaries grants.

You can find out further details about custom simplifications.

How to apply

To apply for authorisation to use simplified declarations, you need to complete form C&E48.

Published 5 November 2019
Last updated 8 November 2019 + show all updates
  1. This page has been updated with information about a temporary easement to simplified procedures.
  2. First published.
  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. You are currently viewing: 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. 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