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HMRC internal manual

Customs Civil Penalties Guidance

HM Revenue & Customs
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Classifying the category of contravention: serious errors

What is a serious error

A serious error is a contravention that

  • either potentially results in the non-payment of significant amounts of Customs duty and import VAT (see table below), or
  • Goods have been removed from Customs Control
In the case of It is regarded as a serious error where the amount of duty exceeds
Incorrect declarations, or a failure to provide declarations required by an authorisation.  
Unauthorised incorrect use of Customs Procedure & Economic Impact (CPEI), for example incorrect drawback claims, etc £10,000

In the case of import VAT an error of this amount should only be regarded as serious where it is apparent that the tax will stick.

Where a series of identical errors is discovered, perhaps through interrogation of spreadsheets, it is the total that should be used to determine whether the matter is serious.    
  Declarations delayed so that payment falls in a later period. (This may occur with Customs Freight Simplified Procedure (CFSP) or Inward Processing (IP) diversions). £25,000
  Errors which have detrimental effect on the physical control of the goods. No monetary limit applies for this type of serious error

How might we address a serious error

We may consider going direct to penalty, see CCPG23550.

If we decide not to go direct to penalty

  • a warning letter may be appropriate, follow the guidance at CCPG26000 
  • recommending that a trader’s authorisation be amended or revoked may be appropriate, follow the guidance at CCPG28000.