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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Debt and return pursuit: customs duties: customs duties: earliest date for enforcement

The enforcement timetable for civil recovery of a customs duty debt is:

  • for a C18, 46 days from date of issue
  • for a community transit charges letter, 46 days from date of issue.

Unless a debtor is entitled to defer payment of a customs duty debt, the debt must be paid within 10 days of notification to the debtor of the amount of duty due (Article 222 of the Code refers).

However, Article 222 provides a right of appeal to an independent tribunal, and the provisions relating to appeals are those of the relevant Member State (Article 245 of the Code). In the UK, the debtor has 45 days from the date of issue of the C18 or Charges letter in which to request a review. As a matter of policy we wait for the review period to expire before taking civil recovery action.

Time to pay for customs debts

Article 229 of the Community Customs Code (Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2913/92), permits the extension of the due date for payment of customs duties, to enable the Member State to comply with domestic law or policy. As a matter of law and policy, we wait until the review period has expired before enforcing a customs debt, and, as a matter of policy, we may grant a request for time to pay.

Under Article 229 of The Code, time to pay is conditional upon the:

  • debtor providing security for the duty due, but not where it would cause hardship
  • charging of interest, but not where it would cause hardship.

The time to pay acceptance letter must include the clause about liability to interest if interest is being charged. If you are unsure about including interest in the time to pay agreement, contact the EPU or Regional Accounting Centre that referred the case for recovery action.