Using and submitting Supplementary Declarations

Responsibilities of traders and agents, enforcement and customs civil penalties


Traders must supply HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) with correct information and comply with customs rules and regulations. This page explains the type of information that traders must supply and the types of penalties that HMRC may impose if they do not, as well as how to appeal against a penalty. See customs seizures and penalties.

Exporters and their agents must be aware that under current law they are responsible for:

  • the accuracy of information given in declarations
  • the authenticity of documents relating to exports
  • compliance with all obligations relating to the goods

HMRC uses a system of Customs Civil Evasion Penalties (CCEPs) to encourage businesses involved in international trade to comply with customs legal and procedural requirements, such as ensuring that all information provided is accurate. Being issued with a penalty does not mean HMRC believes a business is behaving dishonestly or intends not to comply with the law. As an example of penalty costs, the penalty provided is £2,500 per contravention for 'serious' irregularities, such as a delay in informing Customs imported goods have arrived in the UK.

Your first contravention may result in a warning letter. The letter will stay on your file for two years. If there is a contravention the same or broadly similar within those two years, you may be issued with a penalty demand. A warning letter for deficiencies in your systems or records sets out what is to be done and by when. The deadline is set to allow the trader time to rectify the deficiency. If the trader fails to comply, a penalty may be issued. Find information on the warning process in Notice 301 about civil penalties for contraventions of customs law.

Read Notice 300 on how CCEP investigations operate.

You may have to pay a penalty if you contravene a duty, obligation or requirement under UK or European Community law. Notice 301 provides more information on the CCEP process including when you might face a penalty, how contraventions are established, calculated and notified. It also explains the concepts of reasonable excuse and mitigation.

Schedules containing details of the relevant rules, descriptions of the person liable and the maximum penalty amount that may be charged for the breach are available from HMRC.

If you disagree with the issuing of a Warning Letter or Penalty Demand, you can ask HMRC to review your case. HMRC may consider that you had a reasonable excuse for the error, in which case no penalty will be issued. To appeal, you must write, within 45 days of the date on the letter or penalty demand to:

National CIT Appeals Team
HM Revenue & Customs
7th Floor South
Portcullis House
27 Victoria Avenue

There may also be mitigating circumstances which resulted in the error. HMRC may take this into account and can consider reducing the penalty. 

Intrastat penalties

For Intrastat declarations, penalties are seen as a last resort, but they may be imposed where SDs are persistently late, missing, inaccurate or incomplete. Although a penalty could result in court proceedings, HMRC normally prefers to 'compound' alleged Intrastat offences by issuing a fine. However, a fine is only offered when, after receiving a Notice of Intended Prosecution, a business has brought its Intrastat declarations completely up to date.