Refunds and waivers on customs debt by HMRC

Guide

Last updated 7 January 2021

In certain circumstances HMRC can repay or remit (waive) a customs debt. They can either:

  • repay – refund an amount of import or export duty that’s been paid
  • remit – waive the payment of import or export duty that has not yet been paid

When HMRC can repay or remit duties

Your claim must be more than 10 euros in value (£8.86 in pounds sterling) for each customs declaration (for goods that were imported before the 31 December 2020), and £9 for goods that were imported after the 31 December 2020), and HMRC can repay or remit customs duties when:

  • you paid duties that were not due, for example, an over payment
  • you reject the imported goods because they’re damaged or defective, or do not meet the conditions of their contract
  • the debt results from:
    • an error made by customs authorities that you could not have identified
    • circumstances that put you in an exceptional situation compared to other businesses, is outside of normal commercial risk and not the result of any negligence or deception on your part
  • you pay the duties but you ask HMRC to invalidate the customs declaration, for example on mail order goods

Claims for rejected imports

You can claim repayment or remission on goods imported from outside the UK when:

  • you’ve rejected the goods because at the time of declaring them to a customs procedure they’re:
    • defective
    • damaged before being cleared by customs
    • not compliant with the terms of the contract you imported them under
  • they’re the same goods from the original customs declaration
  • you’ve not used any goods, other than the minimum necessary to establish they were defective or did not comply with the contract
  • you’ve not sold the goods after finding them to be defective, damaged or not compliant with the contract
  • you’ll re-export or destroy the goods

You cannot make a claim if you already knew the goods were damaged or defective when the contract for sale was made.

You must submit form C&E1179 at least 48 hours before the goods are packed for re-export or destruction.

Claims for defective parts

You can claim for repayment of duties where only part of the goods are defective. You must only claim the difference between the duty:

  • charged on the whole of the goods
  • that would have been charged, if it had been imported without the defective parts

You must use the rate of duty that applied at the time of the original customs declaration.

Claims for goods located in an EU member state

For repayment or remission applications for goods that were imported before the 31 December 2020, you can claim for goods that are being rejected and are currently located in an EU member state, as long as you have paid or are liable to pay the import duty.

If you’re holding goods that are being rejected having originally been imported into an EU member state, the original importer can submit a claim.

There are special procedures for dealing with this situation. Contact HMRC for more information.

Claims for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) goods

If your claim is approved before disposal of the goods that you’ve paid import duty or CAP charges on, the goods are classed as ‘removed from free circulation’.

How to apply

You apply for repayment or remission of import duties using form C285.

You can claim repayment or remission of charges on rejected imports and CAP goods using form C&E1179.

For declarations made by CHIEF or the Customs Declaration Service, you must submit your claim either:

  • 3 years from notification of the debt
  • 3 months from the date the customs entry was accepted
  • 1 year from notification of the debt for rejected imports (C&E1179 claims)

HMRC can extend these time limits if there are exceptional circumstances, for example, a fire or flood has destroyed your records. You can contact HMRC to ask for an extension.

Cases dealt with by the European Commission

For repayment or remission applications for goods that were imported before the 31 December 2020, in certain circumstances, HMRC must refer your case to the European Commission, this happens when there’s a special situation, customs error, and either the debt:

  • exceeds 500,000 euros in value
  • results from an EU investigation

HMRC will notify you if they refer your case to the Commission, and they will keep you informed.

Complicated cases can take over a year to reach a decision.

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