Guidance

Check when you must register for Plastic Packaging Tax

Who needs to register for the tax and when, and what you must do before you register.

Who should register

You must register for Plastic Packaging Tax if you:

  • expect to import into the UK or manufacture in the UK 10 tonnes or more of finished plastic packaging components in the next 30 days
  • have imported into the UK or manufactured in the UK 10 tonnes or more of finished plastic packaging components since 1 April 2022

This includes non-resident taxpayers who import finished plastic packaging components into the UK on their own behalf, or manufacture finished plastic packaging components in the UK.

The importer will generally be the consignee on the importation documents, unless they provide records showing they are acting on behalf of someone who’s controlling the import, and are using the consignee to store goods on their behalf.

If you import finished packaging components using incoterms, you should make sure you and other businesses know who is responsible for accounting for Plastic Packaging Tax. The tax becomes chargeable when the goods are imported, but is accounted for quarterly in arrears rather than at the time of import.

If you’re a partnership or other unincorporated body

You must register if at least one partner (or person carrying out business) will manufacture or import 10 or more tonnes of finished plastic packaging components in the next 30 days or within the last 12 months

All members will then be joint and severally liable for Plastic Packaging Tax.

If you’re a member of a business group

You can register as a group. This allows for only one of the businesses to complete returns and make payments on behalf of all members of the group.

When to register

You must register for Plastic Packaging Tax within 30 days of becoming liable for it. You must pay the tax on all chargeable components from the day you’re liable to register. You may need to pay a penalty if you do not.

Before you register

There are 2 tests you need to consider. You must:

  1. Look forward to the next 30 days, to see if you expect to meet or exceed the 10-tonne threshold.

  2. Look back to 1 April 2022, to check how much finished plastic packaging components you manufactured and imported. This will change on 31 March 2023, when you will need to look back over the last 12 months on the last day of the month.

If you meet either of these tests, you must register for the tax.

You must include certain exempt packaging when working out if you’ve reached the 10-tonne threshold. Find out more about exempt packaging which counts towards the 10-tonne threshold for registration.

How to look forward to the next 30 days

You must register if you will manufacture or import 10 tonnes or more of finished plastic packaging components within the next 30 days. This test can be applied at any time.

If you expect to meet or exceed the 10-tonne threshold, you will be liable from the date you had reason to expect you would reach the threshold.

You will have 30 days to register from the date you met or exceeded the threshold.

Example of how to apply the forward look test

Your business normally manufactures 0.25 tonnes of finished plastic packaging components every month.

On 16 May 2022, you receive an order for 20 tonnes of plastic packaging to be delivered by the end of May 2022. Your business will need to register for Plastic Packaging Tax by 14 June 2022.

You will account for and pay any tax due on all the plastic packaging that you manufacture from 16 May 2022 onwards, including your normal production as well as the new order.

Your business’s liability date will be 16 May 2022.

How to look back over the last 12 months

You must register if you’ve manufactured or imported 10 tonnes or more of finished plastic packaging components in the last 12 months.

You should check how much finished plastic packaging components you manufactured and imported each month, over the last 12 months. If you meet the 10-tonne threshold, you will be liable from the first day of the month after the month you met the 10-tonne threshold.

You will have 30 days to register from the date you met or exceeded the threshold.

As the tax starts on 1 April 2022, this test works differently between 1 April 2022 and 30 March 2023. You only need to look back to 1 April 2022.

Example of how to apply the look back test from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023

Your business normally manufactures 4 tonnes of finished plastic packaging components every month.

On 1 May 2022, you have only manufactured 4 tonnes of finished plastic packaging components between 1 April and 30 April 2022, so you do not need to register.

On 1 June 2022, you have manufactured 8 tonnes between 1 April and 31 May 2022, so you still do not need to register.

On 1 July 2022, you have manufactured 12 tonnes between 1 April and 30 June 2022, so you must now register for Plastic Packaging Tax by 30 July 2022.

Your business’s liability date will be 1 July 2022. You must now account for any tax due on all finished plastic packaging components manufactured from 1 July 2022 onwards.


Example of how to apply the look back test from 1 April 2023

Your business normally manufactures or imports 0.5 tonnes of finished plastic packaging components every month.

On 1 April 2023 you have only manufactured or imported 6 tonnes of finished plastic packaging components between 1 April and 31 March 2022, so you do not need to register.

You then receive an order for 8 tonnes of plastic packaging which you delivered on 15 April 2023. On 1 May 2022, you have manufactured more than 10 tonnes over the last 12 months, so you must now register for Plastic Packaging Tax by 30 May 2022.

Your business’s liability date will be 1 May 2023. You must now account for any tax due on all plastic packaging manufactured and imported from 1 May 2022 onwards.

How to record your results of the tests

If you meet either of the tests and need to register, you should keep a record of how you worked this out and evidence proving your outcome.

If you meet both of the tests you must register at the earliest date.

If you do not meet either of the tests and are not required to register, you should keep records demonstrating that you manufacture or import less than 10 tonnes per year of finished plastic packaging, including filled packaging.

Find out more about keeping records and accounts.

How to register for Plastic Packaging Tax

Find out how to register for the tax.

Published 4 November 2021
Last updated 9 May 2022 + show all updates
  1. You must register at the earliest date if you meet both of the tests to register for Plastic Packaging Tax.

  2. Examples of how to apply forward look and backwards look tests have been added.

  3. If you import packaging components using incoterms, you should make sure you and other businesses know who is responsible for accounting for Plastic Packaging Tax.

  4. Information has been added to 'Who should register'. If you use incoterms, everyone involved must understand who the components are being imported on behalf of, because this is who is responsible for accounting for the tax. The tax becomes due when the goods are imported, but it's paid quarterly in arrears.

  5. Added translation

  6. Further information about who should register for Plastic Packaging Tax has been added.

  7. First published.