Importing commercial samples of negligible value free of duty and VAT

HMRC Reference:Notice 367 (August 2004) View Change History
 

Contents

Foreword

Other notices on this or related subjects

1. About the notice, the law and your rights

1.1 What is this notice about?

1.2 Changes from the earlier version of this notice

1.3 What law covers this notice?

1.4 What do I do if I disagree with a Customs decision?

2. Relief conditions

2.1 What are the conditions for relief?

2.2 How do I ensure the goods can only be used as samples?

2.3 What is negligible value?

2.4 Are there any goods excluded from relief?

2.5 Do import prohibitions and restrictions apply?

3. How to claim relief

3.1 How do I claim relief on goods imported in baggage?

3.2 How do I claim relief on goods imported as freight?

3.3 How do I claim relief on goods imported by post?

3.4 Can I claim relief after the goods have been imported and customs charges paid?

4. Glossary

Your rights and obligations

Do you have any comments?

 

Foreword

This notice cancels and replaces Notice 367 (March 2002). Details of any changes to the previous version can be found in paragraph 1.2 of this notice.

Other notices on this or related subjects

Notice 200 Temporary importations
Notice 374 Importing goods for test free of duty and VAT

1. About the notice, the law and your rights

1.1 What is this notice about?

It tells you how you can import commercial samples of negligible value into the UK from:

  • outside the Customs Union free of import duty and VAT and
  • the ‘Special Territories’ or countries having a Customs Union with the EC free of VAT.

You cannot get relief from excise duty under these procedures, but alternative reliefs may be available. For example, if you import samples for examination, analysis or test, you should read our Notice 374 Importing goods for test free of duty and VAT.

The glossary at Section 4 explains the meaning of some of the particular words, phrases and abbreviations used.

1.2 Changes from the earlier version of this notice

The changes to the March 2002 edition of this notice, announced in Update 1 (issued in April 2004), have been included in this version.

Paragraph 2.4 has been amended to clarify the appropriate relief to claim for goods intended for consumption or distribution at a trade fair or exhibition.

You can access details of any changes to this notice since August 2004 on our website, go to www.hmrc.gov.uk or by phoning our helpline on 0300 200 3700.

This notice and others mentioned are available both on paper and on our website.

1.3 What law covers this notice?

The law on which this notice is based is:

  • Council Regulation (EEC) No 918/83, Article 91 and
  • The Value Added Tax (Imported Goods) Relief Order 1984 Schedule 2, Group 3, Item 2 (as amended).

This notice explains our view of the law.

1.4 What do I do if I disagree with a Customs decision?

You have a right of appeal if you disagree with any decision we make. There is an independent appeals mechanism for most HMRC decisions. This involves a two-stage process. The first stage is an independent Departmental review by HMRC. The second stage, if required, provides for an appeal to an independent VAT and Duties Tribunal. The following time limits apply:

  • you have 45 days from the date of the written notification of the decision by HMRC, to ask for a formal Departmental review
  • HMRC then have 45 days from receipt of your letter in which to carry out the review and notify you of the outcome
  • if following the formal review you still wish to pursue the matter, you have 30 days to lodge your appeal with the tribunal.

You can find full details in Notice 990 Excise and Customs Appeals, which is available from our helpline phone 0300 200 3700 or from our website, go to www.hmrc.gov.uk

2. Relief conditions

2.1 What are the conditions for relief?

You can get relief on samples of goods of any kind if, when imported, they:

  • can only be used as samples
  • are of negligible value and
  • are intended to obtain orders for the type of goods they represent.

2.2 How do I ensure the goods can only be used as samples?

There are many ways for you and your supplier to do this, for example by:

  • tearing, perforating, slashing or defacing
  • indelible marking
  • limiting quantities or size or
  • method of presentation.

We may ask for one or more of these methods to be used before we will allow relief on the goods you are importing.

2.3 What is negligible value?

Although the law requires the samples to be of negligible value, it does not define the meaning.

In practice, once we are satisfied the goods can only be used as samples, we regard them as being of negligible value.

2.4 Are there any goods excluded from relief?

Yes, we will not allow this relief on goods:

  • imported without the intention of obtaining further orders
  • not presented as samples at import, but intended for subsequently making into samples (for example, unaltered rolls of fabric you import to cut up and make into swatch books)
  • which can be used other than as samples or
  • intended for consumption, destruction or distribution free of charge to the public at a trade fair or exhibition. Such goods may qualify for the alternative relief explained in the Tariff, Volume 3 under Customs Procedure Code 40 00 44 or 49 00 44, as appropriate.

2.5 Do import prohibitions and restrictions apply?

Yes. There are some goods which are strictly controlled. You can find information about these in the Tariff, Volume 1, Part 3 or from our helpline.

3. How to claim relief

3.1 How do I claim relief on goods imported in baggage?

If you import goods in your baggage, you must declare them to us at the Customs Red Channel or Red Point when you arrive.

3.2 How do I claim relief on goods imported as freight?

You must claim relief by completing an import declaration on a Single Administrative Document (SAD: Form C88). You can get an import agent to do this, but if you wish to complete the SAD yourself and need more information on the details required for the import declaration, please refer to the Tariff. Copies are available for reference at our Business Centres or Customs Enquiry Offices at major ports and airports.

Enter one of the following Customs Procedure Codes (CPCs) in Box 37 of the SAD:

  • CPC 40 00 C15 - for goods imported from outside the Customs Union on which you claim relief from import duty and VAT or
  • CPC 49 00 C15 - for goods imported from one of the Special Territories or countries having a Customs Union with the EC on which you claim relief from VAT.

3.3 How do I claim relief on goods imported by post?

Ask the sender to write clearly on the package and its accompanying customs declaration (CN22 or CN23):

“Samples of negligible value - relief claimed.”

We may send you a simplified form to complete.

If the package is not clearly marked it may not be delivered until you have paid the import duty and VAT. You should pay these charges and then write to Customs at the postal depot where the goods arrived. Explain what happened and enclose the document showing the charges. If we are satisfied that the goods qualify for relief, we will repay the duty and VAT.

3.4 Can I claim relief after the goods have been imported and customs charges paid?

Yes. Normally, you should claim relief at the time of import. If you fail to do this, we may accept a belated claim and repay the appropriate charges subject to certain conditions. See our Notice 199 Imported goods: Customs procedures and Customs debt for further details: the section and paragraphs on repayment and remission under Code Article 236 refer.

4. Glossary

CPC: Customs Procedure Code. Used on import declarations (Form C88) to identify the type of procedure for which the goods are entered.

Customs Union: The customs territories of the EC, Turkey, San Marino and Andorra. The unions between the EC and these countries enable most goods in free circulation to move freely between them without the need to claim duty relief, subject to the production of any necessary preference or Community Transit documentation. For Andorra, the union only covers goods in Chapters 25-97 of the Tariff. VAT is still due on imports from Turkey, San Marino and Andorra however unless the relief explained in this notice is applicable and claimed.

EC: The European Community: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus*, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. *The European Commission has advised that the application of the Community Customs Code and 6th VAT Directive shall be suspended in those areas of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control. Goods from those areas will continue from 1 May 2004 to be treated as non-EC imports.

Excise Duty: An indirect tax on beer, wine, made-wine, cider, perry, spirits, mineral oil, cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Import Duty: Taxes we charge on imported goods under the Combined Nomenclature of the EC. These include Customs Duty, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Charges, and Anti-Dumping Duty.

Negligible value: We regard goods as being of negligible value, so long as they can only be used as samples to obtain orders for the type of goods they represent.

SAD: Single Administrative Document - Customs Declaration Form C88.

Special Territories: Countries or areas that are part of the customs territory of the EC but not part of the fiscal (VAT) territory. VAT is therefore due on imports from these territories unless the relief explained in this notice is applicable and claimed. The territories are: the Aland Islands, the Canary Islands, the Channel Islands, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mount Athos and Reunion

Tariff: The Tariff is a 3 volume annual publication which is updated monthly containing useful information about customs import and export requirements.

VAT: Value Added Tax.

Your rights and obligations

Your Charter explains what you can expect from us and what we expect from you. For more information, go to www.gov.uk/hmrc/your-charter

Do you have any comments?

We would be pleased to receive any comments or suggestions you may have about this notice. Please write to:

HM Revenue & Customs
Customs and International Directorate
Facilitation Team
Alexander House
21 Victoria Street
SOUTHEND ON SEA
SS99 1AA

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