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HMRC internal manual

Customs Civil Penalties Guidance

Persons who must comply with Customs law: Traders

A trader is usually the person who is responsible for compliance with Customs provisions. In this guidance we use the term ‘trader’ to mean

  • a business entity (individual trader, partnership, company), and
  • a non-business traveller.

Where a trader employs an agent to act on their behalf when importing or exporting goods, responsibility for compliance can, in some cases, rest with both the trader and their agent or representative.

Authorised Traders are traders who have been approved by HMRC to operate a Customs facility, such as a Customs Warehouse, or to use a particular regime. An authorisation allows them to compete on a level playing field with their non-EU counterparts, for example when they use Inward Processing. The Authorisation sets out clearly

  • the legislation governing this authorisation,
  • the terms and conditions,
  • the systems the trader needs to have in place and
  • the actions they need to take to ensure their compliance with this authorisation.

Non-authorised traders are traders who do not have such an Authorisation from HMRC.

It is the responsibility of national companies to ensure that each of their offices complies with customs provisions.

If the trader is not UK based and their representative in the UK is not a named official of the company or someone they have appointed to act on their behalf, then a letter of authority to act should be requested from an overseas Officer of the Company.