To use Outward Processing Relief (OPR) effectively in your business it's important to clearly identify the goods your business will be handling through OPR - unless you're using the Standard Exchange System (SES). This is a variant of OPR which allows duty relief to be granted on goods imported as temporary replacements for faulty goods which have been exported from the European Union (EU) for repair. Traders may import replacements before the faulty goods are exported, if they're authorised to use SES with prior importation.
It must normally be possible to identify the exported goods in the compensating products. They must be clearly identifiable by reference to invoices, serial numbers, marks, etc. This is an international document recognised throughout the EU. It is used to identify the exported goods in the re-imported processed or repaired goods when the goods are exported and re-imported via different member states of the EU. You will need to contact the HMRC Excise & Customs Helpline on Tel 0300 200 3700 to obtain a copy of the form for completion at exportation.
For OPR operations involving more than one EU country - called 'triangulation' - you need to request that a form INF 2 (Information Document C&E 1155) is issued by your customs office and endorsed by the customs authorities at the port or airport at export and re-import.
Read more about how to apply for OPR authorisation.
It may not always be possible to prove that the goods you exported were used in the process that's taking place in the third country. In these cases you can claim duty relief on an equivalent quantity of goods that produced the products you subsequently re-imported. An example is where chemicals exported for process are placed in common bulk storage tanks at the processor's premises before manufacture of the product, and therefore it isn't possible to guarantee that the actual goods exported have been used.
If you're going to use equivalence be aware that the equivalent goods should have the same eight-digit Tariff Commodity Code and technical specification as the exported goods. You must state that you'll be using equivalence when you make your OPR authorisation application. See classification rules and the Tariff.
Rate of yield
Goods exported under OPR must have a rate of yield calculated. This is the quantity of product that will be produced from any given quantity of exported goods. On your OPR application you must specify how this calculation will be carried out. For example the yield for a dress maker might be expressed as 'one for one' (where no wastage has occurred), or one dress per three metres. You can't use percentages to calculate rates of yield as wastage in production is included in the calculation of the quantity of exported goods used.
If you import a number of different products that are made up of several different materials you can supply a bill of materials for each product. It's important to get these calculations right as they'll determine the level of duty you'll pay.
Security for OPR products
Normally there are only two situations where your business would have to provide security to use OPR:
when you're authorised to use the SES with prior importation
when you need your goods cleared quickly, but can't present the required documentation to support your claim for duty relief at the time
In these situations you'll have to provide security - in cash or via an arrangement with your bank - to cover any potential duty. The security you provide when using SES will be returned to you when you produce a copy of the export declaration.
Which records to keep
To ensure that you always pay the correct amount of duty on your re-imports under OPR it's essential to keep accurate records. These must show:
what the goods were
when and to where you exported them
what processes were carried out on them
what the compensating products were
the information necessary to calculate the duty relief
when and where they were re-imported
the rate of yield
Even if you use an agent to carry out the OPR process you must still maintain accurate records. You must request copies of all export and re-import declarations from your agent and check them to ensure the correct Customs Procedure Code has been used and the details of the goods are correct. If you intend to store these records on a computer you must inform your customs office so they can check your systems are compatible. Your records must be kept for four years after your OPR authorisation has expired and must be available for inspection on request.