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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
- Fast Parcel Operators
- Agents FAQs

Last updated 17 May 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?

  • The University’s VAT registration number – GB 823 8476 09

  • The University’s EORI number- GB823847609000

  • Instruct the agent to use Postponed VAT accounting and to make standard customs declarations.

  • The Commodity Code that is being used (also called HS code).

  • The value for customs declarations - typically the price paid for the goods or cost of identical goods.

  • If relief from Import VAT and/or Import Duty can be claimed (eg scientific equipment or medical exemption), the agent should use the correct Customs Procedure Code and you will need to provide an NIRU Certificate [available from the University Tax Team] and/or an Import VAT Relief Certificate.

  • You may also need to provide import license certificates

  • If you wish to claim for preferential duty rates (0%) because of the EU/UK trade deal, you need to ask the supplier to provide evidence to the University of the Country of Origin of the goods.This should be via a statement of origin.

  • INCOTERMS that will apply to the movement of the goods. Where possible, University Standard Terms & Conditions should be used – DDP INCOTERMS (Delivery Duty Paid).

  • Your department name and contact details within the department for any future enquiries.


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.

DHL are sending out a ‘Request for Customs Clearance Information’.  This is your opportunity to provide medical exemption certificates and/or duty relief certificates and to add details to the ‘any other information’ field to highlight any VAT / duty reliefs that may be applicable.  It is important that these are dealt with quickly if you are to avoid incorrect import entries.  DHL make a charge of £25 for issuing and processing clearance instruction requests, we are in discussions with them about this charge.

Supplier Supplier Number Contact clearance instructions
UPS LTD 62454

For any shipments that require post clearance amendments.




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