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HMRC internal manual

Import and National Clearance Hub Procedures

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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General: import entry requirements

All goods imported into the EU must be covered by an import declaration submitted/lodged with the National Clearance Hub at Salford.

Any person may appoint a representative (agent) to perform the acts and formalities laid down by Customs rules. There are three types of representation:

  • Direct where they act in the name of and on behalf of another person
  • Indirect where they act in their own name but on behalf of another person
  • Self representation when a person acts on their own behalf.

If they make a customs declaration in their own name, but for a potential customer, they will be liable for any customs debt that arises upon the acceptance of the declaration by HMRC.

If they do not state the representation on the customs declaration or they are not empowered to be a representative of another, then they will be deemed to be acting in their own name and on their own behalf.

If they delegate a task to a sub agent then the sub agent is bound by the type of representation they have agreed with the principal.

A full definition of the types of representation is set out below:

Direct representation

When they make a customs declaration acting as a direct representative on behalf of a principal, for example, the declarant, the principal will be liable for the customs debt. They and any sub agent will have no liability for the customs debt.

The agreement between them and the principal must provide, either implicitly or explicitly, for the delegation of tasks to a sub agent in order for the sub agent to be empowered to represent the principal. If such a provision is absent, then the sub agent will not be empowered to represent the principal in making a customs declaration. If they do nevertheless, the sub agent may also become liable for customs debt.

Indirect representation

When they make a customs declaration acting as an indirect representative on behalf of a principal, both they and the principal will be liable for the customs debt. We will be entitled to seek payment from either they and/or the principal.

If they delegate the making of a customs declaration to a sub agent, then the sub agent will become liable for the customs debt along with the principal, but not them. This is because they have not made the declaration nor have they the responsibility for performing the acts and formalities required by customs rules.

Self representation

Legal entities may be authorised purely on their own behalf.

Empowered/authorisation of a direct or indirect representative

The scope of their authority to act as a direct/indirect representative can be inferred from circumstantial evidence and formal written authorisation by the principal is not a legal requirement. However, a formal written authorisation stating that they are empowered to be a direct representative or indirect representative, (whichever is agreed between them and the principal) will avoid any doubt regarding who is liable for the customs debt.

If they do not hold written authorisation, they risk being regarded as acting solely on their own behalf. If the authorisation does not confirm the type of representation, they could be regarded as an indirect representative. In both cases, they would be liable for the customs debt. They should therefore consider obtaining confirmation of their empowerment to act for a principal as a direct or indirect representative in writing.

The statement on a customs declaration indicating that they are acting in direct representation or indirect representation will normally be accepted unless we need to check the accuracy of the statement.

An agent authorised by the importer may deliver the entry on the behalf of the importer.

Entries are required by the Department to:

  • enable duty, CAP charges, VAT or other charges due on the goods to be assessed and collected
  • control the grant of reliefs from duty and similar concessions
  • control prohibited and restricted goods, and
  • provide the information from which trade statistics are compiled.

Special rules for goods imported under simplified procedures apply for goods declared using Customs Freight Simplified Procedure (CFSP) there is an initial simplified declaration which allows release of the goods to the trader, followed by a Supplementary Declaration at the end of the month that gives full details of the goods.

A full description of the types of entry, rates of duty, reliefs etc is in the Tariff Volume 3.