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HMRC internal manual

Strategic Goods and Services: Assessment of risk and offence action

Action to be taken once you have ruling goods are licensable: Detention and Seizure

You may detain the goods pending production of a valid licence or alternatively you may seize them. Except where you know that a licence has been issued but not presented, it is normally appropriate to move immediately to seizure. However regardless of the destination, you should not seize the following:

  • Goods that are rated LR-end are not routinely seized, please see SGSAROA11000.
  • Goods (other than those covered by sanctions) being returned in the same state to the supplier abroad after temporary import and goods declared under temporary exports procedures;
  • Goods in cases where it can be demonstrated that an error occurred even though the exporter had taken all the steps he could have reasonably been expected to; and
  • Goods covered by an OGEL/OIEL where the irregularity is the failure to declare details of the OGEL/OIEL at export.
  • Where you have only detained the goods and then released them without seizing them, you should still issue warning letters to the exporter and agent along the lines of pro-forma letter SGSAROA14160. A copy of this letter must be sent to A Thompson in Customs Enforcement Policy at
  • Where possible, seizure should be authorised within UKBF guidelines:
  • Check with local records and CENTAUR to see if details of any previous offences by the exporter or transhipper or the agent are held.
  • Inform FIS (Customs A/B).
  • If FIS (Customs A/B) ask you, please delay seizure for up to 24 hours. Do not delay seizure for longer than this without agreement through your appropriate management chain.
  • Either seize the goods in the presence of the exporter or transhipper or their agent, or issue a seizure notice (SGSAROA13000).
  • Issue Form C156.
  • Ask for letters of explanation from the exporter or transhipper and the forwarding agent (if offence action is to be taken, such explanation should not be called for without issuing the necessary caution).