Customs seizures and penalties

Calculating penalties

This page details the current HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) civil penalty and civil evasion penalty amounts.

Customs penalties

Customs civil penalties (CCPs) for regulatory breaches are stepped. The minimum penalty is £250 and the maximum penalty for further breaches is either £1,000, or £2,500 for more significant breaches as set out in the statutory schedules. If there is a reasonable excuse there will be no liability to a penalty. Notice 301 details this but all cases are judged individually, and penalties can be reduced for certain mitigating circumstances. Read Notice 301 on civil penalties for contraventions of customs law.

Customs civil evasion penalties (CCEPs) are worked out as a percentage of the duty traders have evaded or sought to evade. The penalty is equal to the duty dishonestly evaded or sought to be evaded. HMRC can reduce penalties to recognise the help traders provide in establishing how the evasion arose and in quantifying the duty amount involved.

Reductions for co-operation

Although traders don't have to co-operate with an HMRC investigation, the level of their penalty may be reduced further if they do. If they choose to co-operate, they must:

  • attend interviews
  • supply information promptly
  • admit early the extent of the arrears and how they arose
  • answer questions honestly and accurately
  • give relevant facts to establish the true liability
  • co-operate until the investigation ends

HMRC will consider how much the trader's co-operation has saved its officers in time and resources when determining by how much to reduce the penalty. HMRC also take into account how forthcoming a trader has been about unpaid or late levies, or any other information required.

Read Notice 300 on CCEPs and how to gain a reduction.