Good Arriving in the UK without an Import Declaration

HMRC has published an Information Paper (CIP1 7 July 2021) on the process to be followed when goods have been imported into the UK without an import declaration.

If a declaration is not completed at the time of importation, the goods have been imported non-compliantly and civil penalties may be charged where HMRC considers it appropriate.

Depending on the goods imported, a liability to import VAT will normally have been incurred on importation, and there may also be a liability to import duty or excise duty.

What is the remedy?

It is not legally possible for the importer (or the person dealing with customs for them) to put matters right by submitting a retrospective declaration. Importers or their agents have two options to satisfy their obligation to pay any outstanding liabilities; the second option is available if the first cannot be used.

Neither of these options constitutes a legal import declaration (it will be a non-statutory declaration) but following this process allows the importer to settle any outstanding liabilities. Settling these liabilities will be a significant factor in HMRC’s decision as to whether a civil penalty will be charged.

Option 1: submit a full import declaration for the free-circulation procedure as soon as possible

The declaration must be submitted within one month of the import occurring.

Customs systems (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight – CHIEF – and Customs Declaration Service – CDS) cannot accept retrospective declarations, therefore the date of submission of the declaration will be the date for which any tax or duties due on imports will be calculated.

Exchange Rates must be calculated based on the date of actual import.

Postponed VAT Accounting (PVA) cannot be used for non-statutory declarations.

Option 2: submit a supplementary declaration to HMRC as soon as possible showing the correct date of import

This requires the importer to be authorised for simplified declarations for imports or to appoint an agent who is so authorised.

If the importer is already authorised for simplified declarations for imports or already has an appointed agent who is authorised, the non-statutory supplementary import declaration as soon as possible.

If the importer does not have authorisation to use simplified declarations for imports, they must appoint an agent or obtain authorisation as soon as possible after they become aware of the need to make the declaration. This should take no longer than 4 months. Importers must keep evidence of the steps they take to pay the outstanding liabilities in case those goods movements are subject to compliance checks in the period before the supplementary import declaration is made.


These processes can also be used to declare goods to free circulation if a transit movement has not been correctly closed. Submission of the non-statutory declaration can be used as evidence that the correct duties have been paid for these movements which should help get the movements discharged in the country of origin. These actions do not, however, ‘retrospectively’ close the transit movement - so these movements will still go into the transit enquiry process.



4 Eyes Ltd can assist with your import and export requirements. Please contact us if you would like to discuss these services.