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HMRC internal manual

Customs Civil Penalties Guidance

CITEX officers operational process: penalty notice: issuing a penalty notice: can more than one penalty be charged at the same time


Where you have one trader who operates several different customs regimes, if they contravene the same piece of customs law across more than one of those regimes, you should take penalty action for each regime.

You will do this by issuing one Penalty Notice for each reason code, setting out the legislation and the total amount of penalties for that reason code. You would state that the amount relates to P1 (Penalty1) to P?? [enter however many there are].

Then in the description on the next page you would list the individual regimes and how the contravention applies to each.

If there is more than one reason code, then you would need to do a different notice for each reason code.

If you are charging a penalty and there is more than one contravention (same reason code) for the same regime, then you would normally group those together. However, if that contravention is classed as a ‘serious error’, see CCPG22300, then you would charge a separate penalty for each contravention.

The examples below show when we can and when we cannot issue more than one Penalty Notice at the same time.

Example 1

Martin has had a previous intervention within the last two years and received a CPWL for misdeclarations. During a recent assurance check, we established that Martin has made four contraventions of customs law. One is a contravention that we categorise as a serious error, see CCPG22300. The other contraventions are categorised as poor compliance. These are misdeclarations - failing to declare the correct commodity code on three customs declarations for import - and because these are the same type of error, we treat them as one contravention. This is categorised as poor compliance, see CCPG22200. We can issue two penalty notices to Martin at the same time, one for the serious error - direct to penalty - and another for the poor compliance - warning letter issued within the last two years.

Example 2

During an assurance check of a Customs Warehouse, we establish that there have been two unauthorised removals from the Customs Warehouse. This is treated as a serious error and we issue the Managing Director Jim with two penalties. (Please note that with frontier contraventions even though they may have been the same kind of contraventions these are deemed to be a serious error and receive an individual penalty for each contravention which has occurred.)

Example 3

As a result of an intervention of Mary’s records we have identified 12 contraventions of Customs law which could be categorised as Poor Compliance.

An examination of 20 Customs Declarations covering the period from 1 Jan 2011 to 31 December 2012 has identified that Mary has failed to include the freight charges in the overall customs value of the goods on 12 Customs declarations. On this occasion you have to treat these as one contravention and issue one penalty. However, dependent on the circumstances surrounding this contravention and having considered the trader’s attitude to compliance, you may decide to issue a penalty for a higher amount than £250.