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HMRC internal manual

Import preference guidance notes

Guide Notes: action when a preference document is not presented with the entry

Document not yet received from the preference country: general

If an importer wishes to claim preference but is not yet in receipt of the original document, the appropriate document identifier code should be shown on the entry, and security must be given for the customs charges due (see IPGN5350). The importer then has 4 months in which to produce a valid document. IPGN5350 provides guidance on the action to be taken when the document is not presented within this period.

Note: if the full rate was paid outright at the time of entry into free circulation subsequent production of a certificate should be dealt with as a belated claim (see IPGN5550). In these circumstances the 4-month rule does not apply.

Preference documents covering a single consignment imported against more than one entry (split consignments)

If an importer intends to use a document for more than one entry (ie goods brought from one overseas supplier which are subsequently split, either on the high seas or on landing, and sold on in small lots before import) the document must be presented with the first entry stating the details of the other entries if known.

The agent must ensure that subsequent entries cross-refer to the original entry, quoting the document number.

If you have any doubt as to the coverage of the preference document for the particular goods which are imported you can reject it and ask for retrospective documents from the trader.

Preference documents lodged in confidence

An exporter in a preference country may lodge a document in confidence if he wishes to withhold commercial information from an importer or agent in the UK.

On receipt of a document lodged in confidence we recommend the following procedure:

  • allocate a reference number
  • notify the person lodging the document of this number and advise him to arrange to quote it on the entry and
  • when the entry is presented, attach the document to facilitate checks in the normal way.