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HMRC internal manual

Strategic Goods and Services: Assessment of risk and offence action

Offences: Initial Enquiries

If the goods hit a profile or you suspect that they may be subject to licensing and either

  • No licence has been presented or quoted on the entry; or
  • The licence presented or quoted does not appear to cover the goods;


  • Detain the goods/ask for the goods to be detained
  • Notify the exporter of the reason why the goods have been stopped and outline what you require in the way of technical literature etc. Ensure that you provide contact details. Notify the agent by placing a query on the CHIEF notice board.
  • Contact BIS for a ruling on whether the goods are licensable. SGSELSG (C35A) sets out the steps that you should go through to determine whether the goods, if licensable, will require a specific export licence.

Criminal Investigation (Customs Team B) holds considerable intelligence on goods and companies of concern and may be able to offer advice. You should not however seize goods on the basis of Investigation advice - you must always get a rating from BIS.

If you get a ruling that the goods are not licensable, keep a record of the details. The information kept should be full and in sufficient detail to assist you in clearance of future consignments of the same goods, with the same technical specifications to the same end user.

This action should help to speed up clearance and avoid repeated detention of the same goods, with the same technical specification to the same end user. Where you are considering clearing goods based on information held and without reference to BIS you must always contact the profile holder to apprise them and to ensure that there aren’t any additional reasons for withholding clearance.