Apply to import goods temporarily to the UK


Last updated 30 January 2024

From 1 October 2022, you will not be able to make import declarations on the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system. 

If you import goods, you need use the Customs Declaration Service. It can take time for your businesses to complete the move and the sooner you start the easier it will be. 

If you already make import declarations using CHIEF, your existing customs authorisations have been transferred to the Customs Declaration Service. You do not need to apply for a new authorisation to use the Customs Declaration Service if you already hold an active authorisation. This means:

  • to make declarations on Customs Declaration Service, use the reference number you have been given
  • your existing authorisation letter remains valid

Find out more information about the Customs Declaration Service

Goods placed under Temporary Admission are not intended to undergo any change, except normal depreciation caused by the use they were made for.

Who can apply

You can apply if you’re the person using the goods or you’re arranging for the goods to be used on your behalf.

Using Temporary Admission in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) will depend on whether you’re established inside or outside the UK.

Using Temporary Admission in Northern Ireland will depend on whether you’re established inside or outside the customs territory of the EU.

You must also:

  • be financially solvent
  • have a good history of compliance with customs requirements
  • have (or be able to keep) appropriate records

You cannot apply if you’re a:

  • freight forwarder
  • fast parcel operator
  • customs agent

See the list of goods, uses and conditions.

Before you apply

Before you start the application process, you’ll need to have the following information to hand:

  • your Economic Operator Registration Indicator (EORI) number (unless importing non-commercial goods)
  • details of where your records are or will be held
  • how the goods will be received – for example imported as freight or post
  • where the goods will be declared to Temporary Admission
  • whether you’ll be using simplified declarations or not
  • details of your guarantee (if applicable)
  • where your goods will be used
  • how long the goods will be in UK

How to apply

There are six types of authorisation you can get to use Temporary Admission:

  • full
  • by declaration
  • an authorisation that covers the Northern Ireland and the EU
  • retrospective
  • oral declaration
  • crossing the border ‘by any other act’

Full authorisation

To apply online for a full authorisation, you’ll need to have a Government Gateway user ID and password. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you apply.

Apply online for full authorisation.

If you cannot do this online, you can use the print and post form.

You should apply at least one month before you start importing to give enough time to process your application. If longer is needed, you will be contacted with a new date.

If you’re applying for authorisation in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, you need to fill the form out separately for each.

Authorisation by declaration

Authorisation by declaration is when you are authorised by having your import declaration accepted at the border.

You cannot use this if:

Authorisations covering Northern Ireland and the EU

Authorisations covering Northern Ireland and the EU give you cover for all your activities across Northern Ireland and the EU these countries. For example, if goods are being exhibited in Belfast, Paris and then Vienna.

There are 2 options of either:

  • using the authorisation by declaration method – the declaration must be made to the place where the goods are to be used first
  • completing a full authorisation – the application must be made to the place where the goods are to be first used

If your application is going to be made to HMRC, you should email: with your:

  • name
  • contact email address
  • address of your Northern Ireland operation
  • Economic Operator Registration and Identification number (XI Prefix)

You will receive a reply within 5 days and be provided with a link to the EU Trader Portal where you can access the application form.

Retrospective authorisation

In special situations, you can apply for authorisation after you’ve imported your goods. This is called a retrospective authorisation.

You will only be authorised if you’ve not been given a retrospective authorisation in the last three years.

You’ll need to show records that prove that:

  • the goods are eligible
  • you have a business need
  • you’ve followed the Temporary Admission procedure

You’ll also need to send a:

  • letter saying why you need this type of authorisation
  • list of imports you want to include in the retrospective period

The maximum period for a retrospective authorisation is 12 months before the date you apply.

If you’re asking to retrospectively renew an expired authorisation, a retrospective authorisation can be backdated to the date that the previous authorisation expired.

To apply for a retrospective authorisation, you need to have a Government Gateway user ID and password. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one the first time you apply.

Apply online for full authorisation.

If you cannot do this online, you can use the print and post form.

Authorisation by oral declaration

When you arrive at the border, you can make an oral declaration by submitting form C108.

You should present two printed copies of the completed form to UK Border Force officers. Copy 2 will be returned to you.

Eligible goods for oral declarations include:

  • pallets and their accessories
  • personal effects
  • sports goods
  • medical, surgical and laboratory equipment
  • reusable packaging
  • containers
  • radio and television production and broadcasting equipment (but pre-authorisation is required for these goods, which means that you must submit form C108 to us at least 30 days before the intended date of import)

Oral declarations cannot be accepted at Roll On Roll Off (RoRo) locations, for example Dover and Eurotunnel. It is advisable to check ahead with the location the goods are moving through if you want to declare it in this way.

If you’re importing reusable packaging or containers, you can make an oral declaration but you do not need to complete form C108.

You may not need to be pre-authorised by HMRC and you’ll not usually be required to provide a guarantee.

See the full list of eligible goods, uses and conditions.

Declarations by crossing the border – ‘by any other act’

The act of crossing the border counts as your declaration. You do not need to fill out any forms. It can only be used for specific goods that have specific uses.

After you apply

When you are authorised, you’ll get a letter that sets out the authorisation conditions.

Conditions include things like:

  • paying Customs Duty and other charges
  • keeping detailed records

You should write to the address on your letter if you want your authorisation to be:

  • amended
  • renewed
  • cancelled

You should also write a letter if there has been a change to your business which may impact on your authorisation, such as changing your trading name or being taken over by another business.

If your information changes after you’ve applied

HMRC may need to contact you after you apply. This could be to request additional information or to organise a site visit.

If any of your contact details change (for example, your address or telephone number) you must let HMRC know by email or by writing to the address on the acknowledgement letter sent to you.

HMRC may delay or refuse your application if you do not provide all the information they need to complete it.

You should also write to them if there has been a change to your business which may affect your authorisation, such as:

  • changing your trading name
  • being taken over by another business

Other ways to pay less duty or import VAT

Find out more information about other ways to:

Multi state authorisation

You can only apply for a multi state authorisation that covers sites in Northern Ireland and the EU if you’re established in Northern Ireland.

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