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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Debt and return pursuit: customs duties: customs duties: schemes to defer payment

Duty deferment system of payment

The importer is pre-approved by us to delay payment for about 1 month. This is on condition that the full amount payable is secured by a banker’s guarantee or bond. The amounts payable on imports in any month are totalled and collected by direct debit half way through the following month.


If the amount of duty cannot be determined on importation, the goods may be released into the UK on payment of a deposit as security for the amount of duty that may prove to be due.

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Community Transit Debts

Community Transit (CT) is a procedure that allows the calculation and payment of VAT and duty to be suspended until the goods reach their final destination in the European Community or are exported out of it. HMRC require a third-party guarantee of full payment.

For more information, see the Transit Manual EUROPA - Taxation and Customs Union / Common & Community transit.

A debt arises when the person responsible for the transit movement is unable to satisfy the customs office of departure that the goods have been accounted for satisfactorily. We notify the debt to the debtor in a “charges letter”.

The principal

The person responsible for producing the goods intact at the office of destination is known as the principal, often a freight-forwarder, who is liable to pay suspended duty and tax in the event of any irregularities in the transit movement.

The guarantor

The suspended duty and tax is protected by a guarantee provided by a third party who is liable with the principal, jointly and severally, for payment of the duty and other charges in the event of any irregularities.