60 Second Guide to Customs Duty Reclaims

27 February 2012

As well as making claims for repayment of customs duties businesses can also apply for remittance of duties, i.e. asking the authorities to waive all or part of an amount of customs duty.

How far back can I go in making a customs duty reclaim?

Importers can reclaim overpaid customs duties going back up to three years.

The time limit, form to be used and place to send the application will vary depending on the grounds of claim (see table below).

When can I make a customs duty reclaim?

The following list provides the various grounds for a reclaim:

Grounds Time Limit
Customs duty was not legally due or the duty demand does not accord with the customs regulations – 3 years

For example wrong customs classification, including non-dutiable elements in the customs value  - 3 years

Invalidation of a customs entry – 3 months

Goods not in accordance with contract or were defective – 12 months

Special circumstances where the importer acted in good faith and without obvious negligence – Usually 12 months but up to 3 years

How should I go about making a customs duty claim?

We recommend the following approach to maximise your chances of success and to speed the claim along:

• Determine legal rules that support the claim
• Determine the conditions to be met (and if available supporting precedents)
• Gather supporting evidence to show the conditions are met
• Obtain all the original customs duty import paperwork
• Complete the necessary form
• Take a copy
• Submit it to the correct address
• If no acknowledgement of receipt is received within 14 days call them

What happens if a customs duty reclaim is rejected?

You should seek clarity of the grounds on which your claim is rejected as it may be possible to provide further evidence or arguments to overcome these objections without going to tribunal.
If HMRC refuses a claim then you can appeal this decision to an independent tax tribunal. The process and hearing are user friendly but each party bears is own costs.

Tips on making a customs duty reclaim

We regularly make duty reclaims on behalf of clients. The following tips should increase the likelihood of success:

• Put forward more than one alternative basis for a reclaim when possible (for example the duty was not legally due and there are special circumstances)
• If you are finding it difficult to locate the original customs entries or references then purchase customs data from HMRC (known as MSS reports)
• If the claim is likely to take time to compile then submit protected claim to stop the three year clock
• Obtain legal rulings from other departments of customs to support your case (for example a BTI Classification Ruling if your claim is based on the wrong commodity code being used)
• Break claims into individual years to speed up, reduce resistance and set precedents for follow up claims
• Ensure you provide full and relevant disclosure or risk having the repayments taken back
• Make sure you have your contact details clearly legible on the form so that HMRC can contact you

Help in identifying & recovering overpayments of customs duty

Our customs duty reviews regularly highlight opportunities to recover significant amounts of duty reclaims and we can carry out all the work needed to recover duties on your behalf.

We also provide expert guidance, supporting arguments or turn-key solutions to maximise the likelihood of success. We have submitted thousands of reclaims over the last 20 years.
We usually offer a no win: no fee option as well as fixed fees.

If you would like to discuss the potential for recovering customs duties in more detail then please email rob@internationaltradesolutions.co.uk or call us on 01905 619229.

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