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HMRC internal manual

Customs Civil Penalties Guidance

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

Classifying the category of contravention: poor compliance

What is poor compliance

Examples of poor compliance include

  • a track record of failure to make declarations on time
  • the persistent inaccurate completion of declarations
  • inappropriate use of the terms Private or Unregistered
  • use of inappropriate Customs Procedure Codes (CPCs) to effect clearance of goods
  • non-arrival of goods for export.

Some instances of poor compliance may have a detrimental effect on revenue control or physical control of the goods. In such instances the trader should have in place controls and checks to prevent such contraventions occurring. Examples of such contraventions are given below, but this list is not exhaustive.

  • Failure to comply with the real time clearance status of the goods. When goods are removed from customs control (either at import or export) before outstanding queries are resolved or permission to progress has been given.
  • For transit, failure to produce goods at the office of destination.

We do not generally consider isolated errors which are not typical of a trader’s approach to compliance as poor compliance, for example, typographical errors or miscalculations. However, each instance depends on its own circumstances.

How might we address poor compliance

The options for addressing a contravention are set out in CCPG23000.

It is not automatically the case that we issue a warning letter or a penalty for a contravention or contraventions that show poor compliance. We must consider whether, with a view to improving compliance, it is more appropriate to provide education and written instruction, see CCPG23650, or to take other action such as recommending that a trader’s authorisation be amended or revoked.

We must take into account the

  • circumstances,
  • number of declarations,
  • value of any under-declarations, or
  • statutory procedure which has been breached.

In some cases it may be appropriate to issue a warning letter for a first contravention. In other cases it may be appropriate to issue a penalty notice without a warning letter having been previously issued, see CCPG22300. If in doubt, seek advice about the circumstances of the contravention from the CITEX CCP Network.


  • taking no action may be appropriate, because the circumstances do not amount to poor compliance, follow the guidance at CCPG24000,
  • providing education may be appropriate, follow the guidance at CCPG25000,
  • issuing a warning letter may be appropriate, follow the guidance at CCPG26000,
  • issuing a penalty may be appropriate, follow the guidance at CCPG27000,
  • recommending that a trader’s authorisation be amended or revoked is appropriate follow the guidance at CCPG28000.