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HMRC internal manual

Guidance on the Audit of Customs Values



Imports of fresh and frozen fish are generally made using selling agents and fresh fish is normally sold at auction. It should also be borne in mind that fish can be subject to Reference Prices and Tariff Quotas.

Fresh fish sold ex trawler

Special arrangements are in force for fresh fish which is sold at auction, usually within two days of unloading from the trawler. There is no previous sale and the net proceeds of the auction sale are remitted to the overseas owner of the goods for example in Iceland. The entry documentation is prepared by a selling agent, who is also the shipping agent, and security for duty is held by the port by means of a standing deposit.

Once the trawler docks, the fish have been imported into the EC. As the first sale takes place after importation, the fish are valued under Method 4. In these circumstances the selling commission may be deducted to arrive at the customs value.

Frozen fish

Frozen fish is imported on sale to UK customers and also for sale after importation at auction and from store on a consignment basis. When fish is imported on sale it can be to both contract and occasional customers.

Frozen fish will have already been processed (gutted, skinned and graded) on a factory ship before it is unloaded at the UK port. Large quantities will already have been sold whilst the vessel was at sea and the remainder will be landed for sale after importation. Foreign trawlers are usually operated on a co-operative basis and they jointly own and run the factory ships.

This basis of value depends on the circumstances of the sale and can be summarised as follows:

  • fish sold at the time of importation can normally be valued under Method 1. Importations can be made in the name of the customer who is the buyer or the seller by nominee (acting under Power of Attorney)
  • selling commission would only have to be added to a Method 1 customs value if it was incurred by the buyer and not already included in the price actually paid or payable
  • in the majority of cases the commission is incurred by the seller and charged on to the buyer in the price. If the seller does not charge on any commission that he incurs, there is no requirement under the legal provisions to include it in the customs value
  • fish sold after importation (on consignment) can be valued under Method 3 as similar goods if they are of the same variety, condition (that is, skin-on or skinned) and size to other fish imported under Method 1 at or about the same time. For the purpose of operating this method, the Method 1 sale used as evidence should normally be for fish landed from the same vessel arriving at or about the same time. If the evidence is not from fish on the same vessel, the relevant entry or purchase order should be produced and the rate of exchange for the original importation used. The importer will be the fishing co-operative for whom the nominee acts under Power of Attorney
  • if the fish cannot be considered to be similar then Method 4 is appropriate. For those varieties sold on a regular basis it is possible to use Method 4(a) and for the remainder Method 4(b). The importer is the fishing co-operative and the C105B valuation declaration or duty reconciliation statement is attested to on their behalf by their nominee and
  • for Method 4(b) sufficient quantities of the imported fish are deemed to be sold when 20% have been sold. It is a feature of the trade that it is not always known prior to arrival of the factory vessel how the fish will be disposed of. It has been agreed, exceptionally, that the undertaking facility may be used when Form C105B cannot be presented at the time of entry.