Importing CAP goods

Common Agricultural Policy import licences

Imports of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) products from outside the European Union (EU) are often subject to customs duty and may require a licence that will need to be presented. For some goods, a tariff quota can be applied for. Tariff quotas allow imports to be made at a reduced rate of duty and are subject to presentation of an appropriate import licence.

What are CAP products?

CAP covers food, agricultural and horticultural products and their derivatives. You can find the full list of goods covered by CAP in Notice 780.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) operates a number of CAP trade schemes for specific products some of which may reduce the duty you pay. You can find the index to the RPA's CAP schemes.

Goods requiring an import licence

Certain CAP goods require an import licence to:

  • provide information for management of the EU agricultural market sectors
  • impose limits on the quantities of goods imported
  • allow a reduced rate of duty in some circumstances

See details of products which require an import or export CAP licence.

You can apply for a licence electronically or on paper, by post, or by fax. Read more about applying for a Common Agricultural Policy import licence. For details of obtaining an application form, find a trader's guide to importing and exporting CAP goods.

Most licences are held electronically on the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system, and for these you do not need to present a paper licence at the point of import unless the goods enter the EU in a country other than the UK.

A licence will stipulate what the goods are, the quantity of those goods that you are permitted to import, and the time within which you must import them. You'll need to keep track of how much of the licensed quantity you have imported if you want to import the goods in more than one shipment. A check on current usage can be made through CHIEF using code DLLU and then inserting the licence number.

Goods not requiring an import licence

For some commodities a licence is never needed. There are also occasions when other commodities don't require a licence when normally they would. Examples include:

  • goods already in free circulation in the EU
  • goods entering the customs warehousing regime
  • goods that aren't entered into free circulation, eg, goods eligible for Inward Processing
  • for most imports where the security amounts to less than €5
  • goods being returned to the EU - read Notice 236

When importing CAP goods you may need to deposit a security sum with HMRC, or lodge a security with the RPA at the time of applying for a licence. Read more about import procedures for Common Agricultural Policy goods.

Registering as an RPA customer before you apply for a CAP licence

Before you can apply for a CAP import licence, you must register as a customer (trader) with the RPA. Read more about customer registration.