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HMRC internal manual

Customs Civil Penalties Guidance

Customs law and HMRC compliance strategy: HMRC compliance strategy

HMRC’s strategy is to encourage voluntary compliance.

HMRC is there to help and support those who want to be compliant in their International Trade activity and we will offer support, education and advice to those who have made an error through lack of knowledge or understanding. However, we will consider taking Customs Civil Penalty (CCP) action when there is evidence that a trader has failed to address areas of non-compliance or is continuing to be consistently non-compliant.

If individuals and businesses make mistakes when they first use a customs procedure we may help them to comply by providing education and advice, which we subsequently confirm in a letter of written instruction. If there is a repeat of the same error once a written instruction has been issued, a penalty may be charged.

We issue information for customers in Notice 301 Civil Penalties for Contraventions of Customs law.

Where education is not appropriate, we seek to encourage future compliance by using the tools available to promote and encourage compliance. These include

  • issuing Civil Penalty Warning Letters,
  • issuing Civil Penalties, or
  • recommending the amendment or revocation of an authorisation(s).

We do not issue penalties if traders voluntarily disclose contraventions (see paragraph 3.2 of Notice 301.)