HMRC internal manual

Customs Civil Penalties Guidance

Penalty notice: considering whether to issue a penalty notice: considering overall whether a penalty is the best way of achieving compliance

Customs Civil Penalty (CCP) action and the issue of a penalty is only one of the tools we have available to encourage trader compliance. There are other options available. In deciding what action is likely to encourage trader compliance, we need to look at the trader’s compliance history.

For example

If the trader has previously received a Civil Penalty Warning Letter (CPWL) or a letter of written instruction for a similar contravention, issuing a penalty is probably the most appropriate course of action.

If the trader has received Civil Penalties for similar contraventions within the last two years, you need to consider their compliance history and decide whether a further penalty is likely to encourage compliance. If yes, then issue the penalty. If no, you should consider what other sanctions are likely to improve compliance.

If the trader has a history of persistent non-compliance and has received numerous civil penalties, you should consider what other sanctions are likely to improve compliance. You could consider recommending to the Approvals Team withdrawal of their usage of an approval or simplified regime.

However, if the trader has a good compliance history and this contravention only occurred because this is the first time the trader has used this particular regime and was unaware of what they should do, provision of education and advice which is confirmed in a letter of written instruction may be the most appropriate action.