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The rules and procedures around making customs declarations are complex and varied and we strongly advise that departments appoint a customs agent to deal with these on the University's behalf for both imports and exports.It is recommended that departments arrange agents early in the process as many are experiencing an upturn in demand currently.


- Finding an agent 
What will my carrier/agent need to know?
- Customs Procedure Codes
- What documentation do I require from the agent/supplier?
- Appendix A : Instructions to agents/carriers re Import VAT and custom duties requirements
- Agents FAQs
- Fast Parcel Operators

Last updated 30 Mar 21


Finding an agent 

You can hire a person or business to deal with customs for you, such as:

  • freight forwarders
  • customs agents or brokers
  • fast parcel operators

What they can do for you (and who will be liable) depends on:

  • the services they provide
  • what you want them to do
  • the commercial agreement you have with them

Agents cannot act on our behalf without written instructions from us. The instruction must show whether they’re acting for us directly or indirectly.


What else will my carrier / import agent need to know?

Customs Procedure Codes

The customs procedure code (CPC) is used to identify the customs (and/or excise) regimes that the goods are being entered into and removed from (if applicable). They are a seperate field on both import and export declarations and should not be confused with commodity codes.

They are a seven-digit code:

  • the first two digits  identify the procedure for which the goods are being entered e.g. removal from a warehouse, entry for free circulation (code 40)
  • the second two digits  identify the CPC regime that the goods are being released from  e.g. 00 if no previous CPC
  • the final three digits are national codes that provide more detail
Within the University the most common CPCs are:
40 00 000 Goods entered into the UK for home use which were not previously held in a customs/excise regime
40 00 C07 Low value imports, goods in single consignment entered to commodity code with highest duty rate
40 00 C13 as above but where the goods qualify for scientific relief

For more information see HMRC's website


Documentation required from agent/supplier

Once the goods have entered the UK, the customs agent and/or supplier will need to provide the following to the University. You must retain these documents for 6 years:

  • airway bill/bill of lading
  • delievry note
  • proof of origin
  • C88 (official Customs evidence)
  • commercial invoice

Instructions to give to import agent/carriers to advise them of our import VAT and customs duty requirements - suggested wording



We would like to confirm the following:

  • From 1 Jan 2021, we do want to use the postponed VAT accounting (PVA) scheme for all of our imports (EU and Non-EU).
  • From 1 Jan 2021, we do want to use standard declarations for CUSTOMS DUTY purposes for all of our imports (this is different to postponed VAT accounting).

We do not want to use the CUSTOMS DUTY deferred declarations for EU imports that has been introduced.

  • VAT number: 823 8476 09
  • EORI number: 823 8476 09 000

Would you please confirm that you have updated your records to record our instructions.

The University Tax Team has already confirmed with DHL and FEDEX that we wish to use Postponed VAT Accounting and standard Customs Declarations.  However, please do confirm this with them.


Fast Parcel Operators

In some scenarios a fast parcel operator may be appointed by your supplier. Please see the table below for details of the most frequent ones.

Supplier Supplier Number
UPS LTD 62454




Please see our CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 Assistance pages for help with areas of Finance during the current situation.

UFS issued communications and the University website also contain information on this topic

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