Customs declaration UK: A step-by-step guide

import declaration

A customs declaration is a government-issued document that lists exactly what is being imported or exported, and provides the information needed to assess the safety and security of the goods’ as well as calculate and collect any applicable duty and VAT.

Travellers mostly fill out a customs declaration when they arrive or depart from a country’s border. Customs authorities control what types of products or items are imported or exported through customs declaration.  

Travellers who do not correctly declare the goods they are importing or exporting may face a penalty or have their goods confiscated. However, in some circumstances, substantial import charges are imposed on specific goods to deter citizens and businesses from importing them.

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We have worked with Customs experts to create a simple platform for UK companies and Customs agents to electronically file Customs declarations with greater accuracy. 

Our digital-first approach makes declarations convenient and simple.


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Why is it important to get customs declarations right?

Customs declarations are legally required documents that are used to accompany goods as they enter or leave a market. They’re used all over the world to transmit the product’s origin and applicable tariff, allowing customs and regulatory agencies to calculate the payable duty and understand applicable restrictions.

They’re essential because they allow authorities to track where items are coming from and leaving to control the flow of goods, protect the country’s safety and security, and collect the required duty. It’s essential to get them correctly, as mistakes can lead to delays and additional costs for your business.  

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Customs Declaration UK

In the United Kingdom, customs are handled by the UK Border Agency. HM Revenue and Customs collaborate with the UK Border Agency. The Customs Declaration Service (CDS) of HMRC is replacing the CHIEF system of customs declaration, which has been in use for many years.

When the Northern Ireland Protocol takes effect on January 1, 2021, the Customs Declaration Service will be used for declarations on goods movements to or from Northern Ireland, including goods moving from the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland, but other customs declarations will continue to be processed through CHIEF until a longer-term transition to the CDS is complete.

Why do we need a customs declaration after Brexit?

Customs laws and requirements for goods transiting between the UK and the EU have changed after Brexit. As a result, any goods travelling from the UK to the EU or vice versa will now need a customs declaration.

Companies need a full customs guarantee as well as customs-adapted software to file a customs declaration.

When do you need a customs declaration?

Customs declarations are required for all international trade of products, including all imports and exports between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Getting customs clearance is a complicated process. You can hire a transporter or customs agent, to make the import declaration and get your products through UK customs.

What is a customs duty?

Customs duty is applied, if the value of the goods imported from outside the UK, or outside the UK and the EU for Northern Ireland, exceeds £135.

There are new rules for UK-EU imports and exports as part of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. On imports from the EU, you’ll have to pay customs charges and VAT.

If you’re transporting products into Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom, you’ll have to file customs declarations and maybe pay duties, depending on whether your items will eventually enter the EU single market.

The government has positioned a Trader Support Service, for enterprises moving goods between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

Information required for customs declaration:

You will be asked to supply different types of details to make the declaration for your goods and verify that your paperwork is filled out correctly, including:

Checklist for customs declaration

1- Do it yourself or hire an agent

Getting customs clearance is a complicated process. You can hire an customs agent, to make the import declaration and get your products through UK customs.

2- Get an EORI number

To import goods into England, Wales, or Scotland, you’ll need an EORI number that starts with GB. If your EORI doesn’t start with GB, you’ll need to get a new one. If you’re transporting products to or from Northern Ireland, you might need one that starts with XI.
In preparation for Brexit, HMRC has provided EORI numbers to most UK VAT registered businesses during the last two years. You must be registered on the appropriate systems and have the relevant software to make declarations, depending on where you are transporting products.

3- Check for customs clearance process or duration

You might be delayed making a statement for up to 6 months if you’re importing products from the EU into England, Scotland, or Wales (Great Britain).
If you have to make import declarations on a frequent basis, there are procedures that can help you clear customs faster and more easily.
You can start moving products at your own premises if you regularly import goods through Common Transit
.

4- Get registration for goods with restrictions

If you import plant or animal goods, high-risk food or feed, medications, fabrics, chemicals, or guns, you may register as an importer.

5- Check if you need import licence/certificates for your goods

If you’re importing risky or special goods, there are specific rules to follow and you may need to get a licence or certificate. The types of products being shipped will determine whether you need an import license or other documents and certificates. As a result, you must inspect your things thoroughly. For example, dual-use commodities, restricted goods, plants, and animals all require licences.

6- Get access to the CHIEF (customs system of the UK government)

UK customs declarations to HMRC are required to be submitted. In order to engage with HMRC for imports, your organisation must have access to the government’s customs systems. Currently, this is “CHIEF,” you must first complete out a form to gain access to CHIEF. However, the UK customs is planning to replace this system with “CDS” in the future.

7- Check for the labelling and marking rules

Importing and exporting plant seeds, food, and manufactured commodities requires complying with certain marking, labelling, and marketing regulations.

8- Arrange space for Goods inspection

If you are importing plant or animal products, you must select a location where the commodities may be examined. This must occur before they are permitted to cross the UK border. When the products arrive, you must notify the inspection site. It’s possible that you’ll have to pay a price for the inspection.

9- Pay VAT and duty

When importing to a country with VAT, the VAT is part of the total charges that must be paid on the imported goods, and it contributes to the entire landed cost. Imports from outside the EU are paid the same rate as domestic goods by HM Revenue and Customs.
If you are already VAT registered, you can claim it in the same way as you would for goods purchased in the United Kingdom. Instead of receiving a VAT invoice from your supplier, HMRC sends you a form C79 that shows how much VAT you paid.

10- Get the goods released if they are held up at the border

If customs authorities may hold your products at the border check if:

  • you have not paid the required duty or VAT;
  • you do not have the proper import licences for the items or business;
  • your goods failed inspection; and
  • they have been mixed with a shipment that has been delayed