Customs seizures and penalties

An overview of customs civil penalties

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can impose civil penalties on traders who contravene customs, excise or import VAT rules and regulations. The type of penalty imposed will depend on the nature of the contravention.

Types of customs penalties

Two main customs penalties operate under civil law:

  • Customs civil penalties (CCPs) may be imposed when traders have contravened customs rules and regulations that relate to customs duty, community export duty, community import duty, import VAT or duties of a preferential tariff country. CCPs may also be imposed for contraventions of customs rules and regulations in regard to exports.
  • Customs civil evasion penalties (CCEPs) may be imposed when it can be established that a trader has dishonestly evaded the payment of an import duty, an export duty or import VAT.

HMRC can detain or seize goods and the containers or vehicles carrying them when the correct duty and or import VAT has been evaded or when they have been used to carry or are packed with goods that are prohibited or restricted.

The importation of restricted goods without the correct documentation and the importation of prohibited or counterfeit goods will be dealt with as a criminal offence. Read more about customs seizures.

Charging interest

If customs duty debts are not paid by the due date, HMRC will charge interest. The rate of interest is set in accordance with Section 197 of the Finance Act 1996.

Find customs debt interest rates.