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HMRC internal manual

Customs Civil Penalties Guidance

Penalty notice: deciding on the amount of a penalty: introduction

Penalties are charged in addition to any duties or taxes that may be due.

Once we have decided that it is appropriate to issue a penalty, we must set the amount of that penalty.

Normally we should set a first penalty at £250, although we may set a higher amount dependent on the circumstances surrounding the contravention, having considered the trader’s compliance history or if this is considered a serious error.

We should then set the penalties for subsequent contraventions in larger amounts.

In the case of a contravention which is a failure to produce records or information, we should set progressively higher penalties the longer the failure continues, subject to a limit. If the failure continues, we should consider alternative action.

There are maximum amounts for penalties. The maximum penalty amounts are given in the Schedules of contraventions.

We must also consider mitigation of a penalty. This may be done as a result of considering evidence before issuing the penalty notice.

We may also consider mitigation, if suitable evidence is produced after we have issued the penalty notice and, if appropriate; we will reduce the amount of the penalty.

For more detailed guidance on

  • setting the amount of a first or subsequent penalty, see CCPG27320 
  • setting the amount of penalties for a failure to produce records or information, see CCPG22500 
  • considering mitigation, see CCPG27330.