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HMRC internal manual

Customs Special Procedures Manual

Authorising a Special Procedure: retroactive authorisation

See Notice 3001 Section 2

In order to be granted a retroactive authorisation all of the following conditions must be met:

  • there is a proven economic need
  • the application is not related to attempted deception
  • the economic operator can prove on the basis of accounts or records that:

    • all of the requirements of the procedure are met
    • where appropriate, the goods can be identified for the period involved
    • accounts and records are adequate to control the procedure
    • all of the formalities necessary to regularise the situation of the goods can be carried out, including where necessary the invalidation (and replacement) of the customs declarations concerned. The economic operator (or his agent) will be required to arrange for any new/amended/substitute entries to be entered electronically to CHIEF
    • the economic operator has not had a retroactive authorisation for a special procedure within three years of the date on which the application was accepted
    • the authorisation does not require an examination of the economic conditions, except where the application concerns renewal for the same kind of operations and goods. Where an examination will be required, the retroactive effect of such an authorisation will only be backdated to the date of the examination
    • the application does not concern the operation of storage facilities under customs warehousing
    • any application for renewal for the same kind of goods /operation the application is submitted within three years of the expiry of the original.

HMRC may grant a retroactive authorisation if the goods are no longer available subject to the conditions above.

Effective date of a retroactive authorisation

An authorisation with retroactive effect shall take effect at the earliest on the date on which the application was accepted.

In exceptional circumstances, we may allow retroactive effect of an authorisation to be backdated no longer than one year before the date on which the application was accepted.

If an application concerns renewal of an authorisation for the same kind of operation and goods, an authorisation may be granted with retroactive effect from the date the original authorisation expired subject to above.

Authorising office assessment of requests for retroactive authorisations

Applications must meet all the criteria set out above. The Authorising Office will consider requests on a case-by-case basis so it is very important that the economic operator explains the exceptional circumstances when applying for a retroactive authorisation.

A retroactive authorisation is unlikely to be granted more than once, as any further requests for retrospection are likely to be considered as obvious negligence unless the circumstances are very exceptional and different from those, which led to the first retroactive authorisation being granted.

No retroactive authorisations can be granted for:

  • the storage procedure
  • Temporary Admission under the oral declaration or any other act procedures
  • an authorisation by customs declaration – previously known as a ‘simplified authorisation’.

Applications for retroactive authorisations

Applications should be made on form(s):

  • SP1 – End-use
  • SP3 – Inward Processing
  • SP4 – Outward Processing
  • SP5 – Temporary Admission

In addition, the economic operator must provide a covering letter stating the reasons why retrospection is required and provide a list of the imports they wish to be included in the retrospective period of authorisation. They will also need to be able to produce records to support the application and show that the goods in question were or are eligible for the procedure. If we grant retrospection, the economic operator will be required to arrange for the amended/substitute customs declarations to be prepared and to arrange for an agent to key them to CHIEF.

Legal references:

UCC Article 22.4 and 211

Delegated Act Article 172 (outlines the periods for which retroactive authorisation may be granted)