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Cross Border Channel Shoppers Protest Campaign – Notices you can expect from HM Revenue and Customs.

HM Revenue and Customs Seizure Notices

Day-tripper.net is giving this information out in the interest of the civil rights of British Citizens travelling to Europe.

This page tells you what a Notice 1 says, and shows an actual Seizure Notice (C156).

Notices Forms and Leaflets – Explanatory Leaflets (download a form). www.tribunals.gov.uk

"Appeals and other proceedings before the Special Commissioners"

"IR 35 Leaflet – Special Commissioners' Supplement to Explanatory Leaflet"

"Appeals and Applications before the Tribunals" (VAT)

"Appeals and Applications before the Tribunals" (CUSTOMS DUTIES)

"Appeals and Applications before the Tribunals" (EXCISE DUTIES)

"Appeals and Applications before the Tribunals" (FINANCIAL SERVICES)

Notices of Appeal forms

VAT and Duties Tribunals – VALUE ADDED TAX (Trib 1)

VAT and Duties Tribunals – CUSTOMS MATTERS (Trib 1)

VAT and Duties Tribunals – EXCISE DUTY (Trib 1)

The information provided here has been researched or found to help channel shoppers who have suddenly found themselves facing British Revenue and Customs. The webmaster thanks those who have provided some of this information.

HELP! – if you have any comments or tips that will help advance the cause of channel shopping, please contact us .

The information contained within this web site is intended to act as a general guide only, and does not form any offer or legal contract, whether actual or implied.

Customs and VAT matters are complex, and you should seek practical advice and assistance from a professional source rather than rely on the contents of this web site.

Forms and Notices Issued

NOTICE 1

Does not actually say there is no limit as to how much of Duty Paid goods you can purchase in a member state.

You must prove it is for personal consumption.

What it means

They COULD seize the goods. They will have noted what you had on the first trip and will want to see if you could have drunk/smoked it in the elapsed time. Just be careful. It's a long walk home! (they could take the car)

Do not, under ANY circumstances accept a Notice 1 UNLESS you are being let go with more than the guidelines.

REMEMBER – if you sign the form you are a marked European shopper.

www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/notices/1.htm

SHOPPING ACROSS THE CHANNEL?

BRINGING BACK CIGARETTES OR ALCOHOL?

Don't be taken for a smuggler.

Customs want the same things as the vast majority of ordinary law-abiding citizens. We want you to enjoy your visit abroad. But we also have a duty to protect you and your family from threats like drugs, firearms, disease and paedophiles. And we want to stop tobacco and alcohol smugglers ripping us all off by evading taxes which the rest of us pay to fund our schools and hospitals and other vital public services.

SHOPPING WITHIN THE EU

You can:

Bring back into the United Kingdom as much E.U. Duty paid tobacco and alcohol as you like as long as it is for your own use, which includes:

– Bringing back goods for your own consumption.

– Bringing back gifts for family and friends.

You cannot:

Bring back goods for commercial purposes, which includes:

– Bringing back goods for payment – even payment in kind.

– Bringing back goods for friends and family if they are paying you, giving you the cost price or paying for some or all of your travel costs.

– Bringing back goods for re-sale.

If you bring back large quantities of alcohol or tobacco goods and are stopped by Customs you may be asked some basic questions about your trip and purchases and the purposes for which you hold the goods. This particularly applies if you have with you more than the following amounts:

– 3200 cigarettes – 400 cigarillos

– 200 cigars – 3kg of smoking tobacco

– 110 litres of beer – 10 litres of spirits

– 90 litres of wine – 20 litres of fortified wine (such as port or sherry)

These are only guide levels based on European law and Customs do NOT enforce any absolute limits.

the E.U. countries are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, The Irish Republic, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain (but not the Canary Islands), Sweden, The United Kingdom (but not Gibraltar or the Channel Islands).

The questions and checks which the Officer makes could be about:

– The frequency of your travel

– The amount and type of goods purchased

– The reason for purchasing goods

– The method of payment used

– Levels of consumption

– Whether all your goods are openly displayed or concealed.

– Any other relevant circumstances.

The Officer will take into account all the factors of the situation and your explanation. If you are unable or you refuse to provide a satisfactory explanation the Officer may well conclude that those goods are for commercial purposes and not for your own use.

If the Officer is satisfied the goods are being brought into the United Kingdom for a commercial purpose, and are not for own use, the goods, along with any vehicle used to transport them, will be liable to seizure and may not be returned.

Cigarette, tobacco and alcohol smugglers cost taxpayers millions of Pounds a day, threaten the livelihood of small shopkeepers and have been caught selling their goods to children.

People who use a vehicle to try to smuggle tobacco or alcohol will lose their goods and may lose the vehicle.

– Over 1 in 5 cigarettes smoked in the United Kingdom is smuggled.

– In 2000-01, cigarette smuggling cost the United Kingdom taxpayer £2,800 million in lost tax. Money which could have gone towards funding essential services such as hospitals and schools.

– In 2000-01 Customs seized 2.8 billion cigarettes destined for the illicit market.

– In 2000-01 Customs seized more than 10,000 cars, vans and lorries used by smugglers.

Genuine cross-channel shoppers have nothing to fear – but Customs are tough on smugglers

ALL OF CUSTOMS ACTIONS TO TACKLE SMUGGLING OF ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO ARE BASED ON E.U. AND United Kingdom LEGISLATION.

And copy; Crown copyright 2002. Published by HM Customs and Excise, October 2002. 02/CD/009

YOUR RIGHTS

In all dealings with the public, Customs Officers are expected to be courteous, impartial and behave with complete integrity.

If you have a complaint that cannot be resolved on the spot please contact one of Customs' Complaints Units. If you are still not satisfied you can ask the Adjudicator, who acts as an impartial referee, to review your complaint, or you can ask an MP to refer your case to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

Further details, including the addresses of the Complaints Units, are in Notice 1000 (www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/notices/1000.html).

If you have goods or a vehicle seized by Customs you will be given a receipt and an explanation why the items were seized.

The Officer will also give you a leaflet explaining:

– How to appeal if you think the seizure was unlawful – an appeal against the legality of a seizure must be made within one month

And will be heard at a Magistrates Court. Further details of the appeals process are in Notice 12A (www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/notices/12a.html) and How to ask for your goods/vehicle back. If Customs refuse you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. If you are still not satisfied you can refer the case to an independent Tribunal.

Further details of the VAT and Duties Tribunal system are in Notice 990 (www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/notices/990.html).

Further general advice, and copies of the Notices, can be obtained from the National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000.

OUR RIGHTS

– Customs Officers expect to be able to carry out their duties with the assistance and support of the travelling public.

– Customs Officers have the right to stop, question and check for prohibited or restricted goods, such as drugs or firearms, or where they have reasonable grounds to believe someone may have alcohol or tobacco goods which are liable to forfeiture.

– Customs Officers have the right to seize smuggled goods and vehicles used for smuggling.

If you need more advice please ring the HM Revenue and Customs National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000 or visit Hmrc.gov.uk

THE OLD NOTICE 1

Notice 1 – A Customs guide for travellers entering the United Kingdom (August 1999, Update June 2001)

Contents

Travelling within the EU

Goods you buy in the EU

Travelling to the United Kingdom from outside the EU

The customs allowances

Prohibited and restricted goods

Smuggling

Travellers Charter

Travelling within the EU

If you are travelling to the United Kingdom from another European Union (EU) country

At some ports and airports all travellers leave by the same exit, but at others there is a separate exit for travellers from other E.U. countries. This separate exit usually has a blue sign.

To help protect people in the United Kingdom, we carry out checks on some E.U. travellers to look for prohibited (banned) or restricted goods. This means that we may ask you about your baggage. Please co-operate as we need your help to prevent smuggling.

The E.U. countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, The Irish Republic, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain (but not the Canary Islands), Sweden, The United Kingdom (but not the Channel Islands)

Although Gibraltar is part of the EU, it is outside the Community customs territory. As a result the customs allowances for outside the E.U. apply.

Goods you buy in the EU

You do not have to pay any tax or duty in the United Kingdom on goods you have bought in other E.U. countries for your own use, but please remember the following.

* ‘Own use ’ includes gifts, but you may be breaking the law if you sell goods that you have bought. If you are caught selling the goods, they will be taken off you and you could get up to seven years in prison.

* any vehicle you used to transport the goods could also be taken off you.

* The law sets out guidelines for the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring into the United Kingdom If you bring in more than this, you must be able to satisfy our officer, if you are asked, that the goods are for your own use. If you can't, the goods may be taken off you.

* When you buy goods in another E.U. country, make sure you have not bought more goods than their law allows. Some countries may take your goods off you before you leave, if you have goods in excess of their guidelines.

* If you let a coach, ferry or aircraft store your goods while travelling back to the United Kingdom you must make sure they are clearly marked, so that when you land you can collect the exact goods you bought.

The guidelines for goods you can buy in the E.U. for your own use are:

Spirits 10 Litres / Cigarettes 800 / Cigarillos 400 / Cigars 200 / Smoking tobacco 1 Kg / Fortified wine (such as port and sherry) 20 Litres / Wine (only 60 litres of this can be sparkling wine) 90 Litres / Beer 110 Litres

People under 17 are not allowed to bring in tobacco and alcohol.

Travelling to the United Kingdom from outside the EU

Declaring goods to Customs

Page 4 of this notice tells you what you can bring into the United Kingdom and what items you should declare to Customs. If you need to declare goods, or if you are not sure what you should declare, you must use the red channel or the phone provided at the red point.

Sometimes there are no staff at the red channels. If there is no Customs Officer, there is a phone you can use. To make a legal declaration, you must speak to a Customs Officer.

If you do not declare items you should pay duty on, you are breaking the law and we may prosecute you.

If you have travelled from a country that is not in the EU, or through a country that is not in the EU, you must declare the following.

Any goods over the allowances listed in page 4 that you have bought in a country outside the E.U. This includes any duty or tax free goods you bought when leaving the United Kingdom, but are bringing back with you.

* any prohibited (banned) or restricted goods.

* any commercial goods (see Notice 6 ‘Merchandise in Baggage’).

If you have something to declare, go to the red point or into the red channel.

Only go through the green ‘nothing to declare’ channel if you are sure that you have no more than the Customs allowances and no prohibited (banned), restricted or commercial goods.

If you arrive by air and are transferring to a flight to another E.U. country, you do not collect your hold baggage until you reach your final destination. At the transfer point, you only have to declare goods in your hand luggage. At your final destination, you must declare goods in your hold baggage.

This is usually the same if you are transferring to a United Kingdom domestic flight. But, in some cases, we must clear both your hand luggage and hold baggage at the transfer airport. The airline will tell you when this is necessary.

You may be arriving with goods for your own use that you have bought and paid duty and tax on in another E.U. country.

You will not have to pay any more duty or tax as long as you can show, if we ask you to, that you have paid duty and tax (by producing the receipt, for example) and that the goods are for your own use.

See Notice 3 if you are bringing your belongings or your car into the United Kingdom from outside the E.U.

The customs allowances

For travellers arriving from outside the EU

(including the Canary Islands, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar)

You are entitled to the allowances shown above only if you travel with the goods and do not plan to sell them.

If you bring something in worth more than the limit of £145, you will have to pay charges on the full value, not just on the value above £145.

If you are travelling as a family or group, you cannot pool your individual allowances towards an item worth more than the limit. You will have to pay charges on the full value of the item.

200 cigarettes; or

100 cigarillos; or

50 cigars; or

250gms of tobacco

2 litres of still table wine

1 litre of spirits or strong liqueurs over 22% volume; or

2 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or other liqueurs

60cc/ml of perfume

250cc/ml of toilet water

£145 worth of all other goods including gifts and souvenirs.

People under 17 are not allowed to bring in tobacco and alcohol.

Prohibited and restricted goods

Certain goods are prohibited (banned) or restricted to protect health and the environment. We cannot list all the goods involved but we have listed some examples below.

Prohibited goods (that is, goods which are banned completely).

* Unlicensed drugs, such as heroin, morphine, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, barbiturates and LSD.

* offensive weapons, such as flick knives, butterfly knives, push daggers, belt buckle knives, death stars, swordsticks, knuckledusters, blowpipes, spring operated telescopic truncheons and some martial arts equipment.

* Indecent and obscene material featuring children, such as books, magazines, films, videotapes, laser discs and software.

* Pornographic material other than that which depicts the type of consensual sexual activity between adults which can be legally purchased in the United Kingdom.

* Counterfeit and pirated goods and goods that infringe patents (such as watches, clocks and CDs and any goods with false marks of their origin) when brought into the United Kingdom from outside the United Kingdom.

Restricted Goods (that is, goods which you cannot import without authority such as a licence).

* Firearms, explosives and ammunition, including electric shock devices (such as stunguns) and gas canisters.

(Contact the National Advice Service).

* the Pet Passport Scheme allows pet dogs and cats to be imported from the E.U. and certain other countries, without the need for quarantine, providing certain conditions are met.

Dogs and cats outside this scheme together with other animals, for example rabbits, mice and rats, must not be imported unless you have a British import (rabies) licence.

These animals are subject to normal quarantine arrangements

(020 7904 6000).

* Live birds, including family pets, unless they are covered by a British health import licence (020 7904 6000).

* endangered species, including birds and plants, whether alive or dead; also such things as fur, ivory or leather (or goods made from them) that have been taken from endangered species (0117 987 8202).

* Meat and poultry, and most of their products including bacon, ham, sausages, pate, eggs, milk and cream. But you are allowed 1kg of meat per person from non-EU countries as long as it is fully cooked and in airtight containers (020 7904 6000).

* Certain plants and their produce. This includes trees, shrubs, potatoes, certain fruit, bulbs and seeds (01904 455195).

* Radio transmitters such as CB radios that are not approved for use in the United Kingdom (020 7211 0463).

The phone numbers shown will connect you to:

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions – 0117 987 8202

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – Animal Health Division – 020 7904 6000

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – Plant Health Division – 01904 455 195

The Radiocommunications Agency – 020 7211 0463

Smuggling

* Never carry anything into the United Kingdom for someone else.

* Never bring prohibited goods into the United Kingdom.

* If you are driving, make sure that everyone travelling with you knows what goods are prohibited or restricted. If you smuggle goods in a car, the car may be taken off you.

* If you are in doubt, go to the Customs enquiry point.

* A pet may be tame, but rabies is a killer. Don 't even think of smuggling an animal into the United Kingdom It could be carrying rabies and the consequences could be disastrous.

There are heavy penalties for smuggling.

If you have any information about illegally imported drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or tobacco, call

0800 59 5000

CALL CUSTOMS CONFIDENTIAL

The call is free and the lines are open 24 hours a day.

Your call will be confidential so nobody else will know you've made it.

Traveller's Charter

HM Customs and Excise staff at ports and airports protect people in the United Kingdom from drugs and other goods prohibited (banned) by Parliament. We also collect revenue on imports from outside the E.U.

The Traveller 's Charter commits us to the standards you can expect from us when we are doing our job.

You can get a copy of the Charter from Customs at ports and airports or by phoning our National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000. The service can also provide you with general advice on a wide range of tax matters. Lines are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday. If you have hearing difficulties please ring the textphone service on 0845 000 0200.

If you would like to speak to someone in Welsh please ring 0845 010 0300, 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. If English is not your first language and you need the services of a translator to help with your enquiry please tell one of our National Advice Service advisors.

All calls are charged at the local rate within the United Kingdom.

Charges may differ for mobile phones.

If you have a complaint

If you have a complaint please tell our officers who will try to resolve it on the spot. If they are unable to do so, they will tell you who to contact. Alternatively you can telephone the Complaints and Suggestions number in the phone book or ask for a copy of our Notice 1000 "Complaints and putting things right" which tells you who to contact.

If we are unable to settle the complaint to your satisfaction, you can ask the Adjudicator to look into your case.

The Adjudicator, whose services are free, acts as an impartial referee. The address is:

The Adjudicator 's Office

Haymarket House

28 Haymarket

London

SW1Y 4SP.

Tel: 020 7930 2292.

E-mail: adjudicators at gtnet.gov.uk

Adjudicators Office. www.adjudicatorsoffice.gov.uk

If you have any questions about this leaflet, or would like a copy of any of our other notices, please contact the National Advice Service (see above).

Produced by H M Customs and Excise 08/99. Printed in the United Kingdom.

Updated 06/01

Form C156

An actual Seizure Notice kindly supplied by one of our visitors. As you can see, he had just 2 cases of beers over the guidelines- yet they still seized his car. According to the Government this man is a MAFIA smuggler costing the British State billions (click for full size).

notice 12 customs

Notice 12

Compounding, seizure and restoration

April 1998

Back to Customs and Excise List of publications

This notice explains, in a series of questions and answers, how the Commissioners of Customs and Excise exercise their powers in the following areas:

* the compounding of criminal offences

* the seizure of goods

* appeals against seizure

* the restoration of seized goods

* the review of decisions relating to restoration.

Throughout this notice, we, us and our means the Commissioners of Customs and Excise or any officer of Customs and Excise acting on their behalf.

This notice is not the law and nothing in it changes the law. It is our view of what the law says.

You can obtain extra copies of this notice from the National Advice Service, whose address is in the Phone Book under "Customs and Excise".

This notice is issued by:

HM Customs and Excise

Criminal Justice, Fraud and Enforcement

First Floor Central

New King's Beam House

22 Upper Ground

London SE1 9PJ

Further help and advice

If you need further help or advice or more copies of Customs and Excise Notices, please contact the National Advice Service. You will find this in the phone book under 'Customs and Excise'.

For VAT-registered businesses The VAT Enquiries Guide (Notice 700/51) explains what sort of information and advice services we provide.

If you have a complaint

If you have a complaint which the staff at your local office or at the port or airport cannot resolve you should contact the Regional Head for the region. Your local office will tell you how to contact the Regional Head. Ask for a copy of our code of practice on complaints (Notice 1000). If the Regional Head does not settle your complaint to your satisfaction, you can then ask the Adjudicator to look into it.

The Adjudicator, whose services are free, is an impartial referee whose recommendations are independent.

The address is:

The Adjudicator's Office

Haymarket House

28 Haymarket

London SW1Y 4SP

Tel: 020 7930 2292

Contents

1 Compounding

1.1 What is ‘compounding’?

1.2 Is a compound settlement always offered?

1.3 May I offer a compound settlement?

1.4 How is the compound settlement calculated?

1.5 What if I refuse to accept a compound settlement?

1.6 Will details of the compound settlement remain confidential?

2 Seizure and restoration

2.1 What is ‘seizure’?

2.2 How is seizure carried out?

2.3 What can I do once my goods are seized?

2.4 How do I appeal against seizure?

2.5 What happens if I do not appeal against seizure?

2.6 How can I get my goods back?

2.7 Do I have any other options?

1 Compounding

1.1 What is ‘compounding’?

Compounding is the means whereby we offer to settle, out of Court, any offence committed under the customs and excise Acts. This is done by means of a compound settlement. This saves time and money – both for you and for us – by avoiding the need for legal proceedings.

We will only offer a compound settlement where we have sufficient evidence for a prosecution.

1.2 Is a compound settlement always offered?

No, we will not offer a compound settlement in every case. It depends on the nature of the offence and on your circumstances. For example, we will normally prosecute you if:

* you have assaulted or obstructed an officer;

* you are subject to a suspended prison sentence or are on parole;

* you are being investigated for other related offences, whether by Customs and Excise, the police or other Government Departments;

* you are an undischarged bankrupt or, if a limited company, are in liquidation;

* you are a persistent offender.

1.3 May I offer a compound settlement?

Yes, but we are under no obligation to accept your offer.

1.4 How is the compound settlement calculated?

We consider each case on its merits and take the following things into account:

* the seriousness of the alleged offence;

* the penalty that a Court might impose;

* the nature and value of any goods involved;

* the amount of duty and/or tax involved;

* the costs of investigating the offence;

* any aggravating circumstances;

* your ability to pay an appropriate penalty.

1.5 What if I refuse to accept a compound settlement?

If you refuse to accept a compound settlement we will normally prosecute you for the offence (s) you are alleged to have committed. Compounding is not an appealable matter to the VAT and duties tribunal.

1.6 Will details of the compound settlement remain confidential?

Whilst a compound settlement is an agreement between you and us, details may be disclosed in the following circumstances:

* to the courts, if you are prosecuted for a similar offence within the next five years;

* to your employer, when it is apparent that:

– the nature of your employment has facilitated the offence,

– (where drugs offences or indications of serious alcohol abuse are involved) the nature of your employment or duties requires a high degree of unimpaired judgement or faculties,

* to other Government Departments, whose statutory responsibilities are directly affected by your actions;

* to Parliament or the media, if it is in the public interest.

2 Seizure and restoration

2.1 What is ‘seizure’?

Seizure is the act of bringing under Customs control any goods that we consider are liable to forfeiture under the customs and excise Acts. Vehicles, vessels, containers, and other such things used for the carriage or concealment of the seized goods, and any other goods mixed, packed or found with the seized goods may also be seized.

2.2 How is seizure carried out?

We will either seize goods in your presence (or that of your representative) or arrange for a notice of seizure to be issued to you.

2.3 What can I do once my goods are seized?

Once we have seized your goods you may consider the following options:

* decide that the seizure was not correct and appeal against it. In this case, you must follow the procedure set out in paragraph 2.4 (below);

* accept that the seizure was correct and do nothing. In this case, the seized goods will eventually become condemned as forfeit and will be dealt with as set out in paragraph 2.5; or

* accept that the seizure was correct but ask for the goods to be returned to you. In this case, we may decide to restore the goods to you as set out in paragraph 2.6.

If you are unsure of what to do, we strongly suggest that you seek independent legal advice.

2.4 How do I appeal against seizure?

If you believe that we should not have seized your goods, you may appeal against the seizure.

In order to lodge an appeal against seizure, you must write to us at the office of Customs and Excise which is dealing with the seizure, stating that you wish to appeal against the seizure. This is called a notice of claim.

The notice of claim must state:

* your name and address; and

* (if you are not a resident of the United Kingdom or the Isle of Man) the name and address of a solicitor in the United Kingdom who is authorised to act on your behalf.

This notice of claim must be made within one month of the date of the seizure or the date shown on the notice of seizure.

Once your claim is received, we will take the case to a civil Court for them to decide whether the goods were liable to forfeiture and consequently whether we were entitled to seize them. You, or your legal representative will have the opportunity to state why you feel that the goods should not have been seized. If the Court decides that the goods should not have been seized, they will be returned to you.

If you make a claim you may still ask for your goods back before the Court hearing. We may decide to return them upon the payment of a sum of money which will be no more than the value of the goods (including any duty and/or tax). This process is called ‘delivery up’. If the Court decides in our favour the payment will be retained, otherwise a refund (less the duty and/or tax properly due) will be made.

2.5 What happens if I do not appeal against seizure?

If you do not lodge a notice of claim within the one month appeal period, the seized goods will be deemed to be condemned as forfeit. Condemned goods will then be disposed of in the most appropriate fashion, usually by destruction.

2.6 How can I get my goods back?

Once goods are seized, we may allow them to be returned to you, provided that you meet certain conditions, which may include the payment of a sum of money. This process is called restoration. Prohibited goods are unlikely to be restored to you.

In certain cases, this restoration payment may be combined with the penalty (the compound settlement). This is called a ‘combined sum’ and is generally applied in situations where compounding can be offered and accepted immediately, e.g. where you have been caught smuggling goods on which duty should have been paid.

If you are unable (or unwilling) to pay the full combined sum, you may opt to pay the penalty part, therefore avoiding legal proceedings; however in this case we will retain the goods.

Alternatively, you may decide to appeal against the seizure of the goods, provided you are still within the one month appeal period.

2.7 Do I have any other options?

Yes. You may accept that the goods are liable to forfeiture and instead ask for a formal Departmental review of either a refusal to restore the goods to you or the sum requested for restoration. Note however, that if we have already disposed of the goods that have been condemned as forfeit, the tribunal will be unable to restore them to you.

In order for us to review these matters, your request must be received within 45 calendar days of the notification of our decision (i.e. The decision not to restore or the restoration offer). If, after the matter has been reviewed, you still consider our decision to be unreasonable, you may appeal to the VAT and duties tribunal. The procedure is fully explained in Notice 990.

You cannot use this procedure to appeal either against the seizure of goods (see paragraph 2.4) or the compound penalty element of a combined sum (see paragraph 2.6).

Notice 990 – VAT and Duties Tribunal

The procedure to appeal to this Tribunal is fully explained in Notice 990. If you accept that the goods are liable to forfeiture and instead ask for a formal Departmental review of either a refusal to restore the goods to you or the sum requested for restoration you can appeal to this Tribunal. Note however, that if we have already disposed of the goods that have been condemned as forfeit, the tribunal will be unable to restore them to you.

In order for them to review these matters, your request must be received within 45 calendar days of the notification of the Restoration Officers decision (i.e. The decision not to restore or the restoration offer). If, after the matter has been reviewed, you still consider their decision to be unreasonable, you then may appeal to the VAT and duties tribunal.

You cannot use this procedure to appeal either against the seizure of goods (see paragraph 2.4) or the compound penalty element of a combined sum (see paragraph 2.6).

HM Revenue and Customs

Contents

HM Customs' role

Our standards

Customs Officers and their Job

Customs laws and your rights

Paying duty and tax

If you have a complaint

The Adjudicator

Your MP and the Ombudsman

Our performance

More information and advice

Charter Mark

HM Customs' role

Our staff at ports and airports protect the United Kingdom from goods which Parliament has said must not be brought into the country (prohibited goods). These prohibited goods are mainly drugs, weapons, obscene material and threats to public health and the environment.

We also collect duty and tax on imports from countries outside the European Union.

We can check any traveller to see if he or she is smuggling drugs and other goods. We can also check travellers arriving from outside the European Union who may have to pay duty or tax.

This leaflet describes the standards of service you can expect from us.

Our standards

We will:

* Wear name badges when we are in uniform and dealing with the public;

* always carry an identity card;

* offer help in re-packing your bags if we have made you unpack them;

* settle straightforward claims within 10 working days and all other claims within one month;

* give you reasons if we need to search you and explain your right to appeal before we do a search;

* offer to explain how we work out duty and tax;

* give you a receipt if you pay us any money;

* explain the reason if you have to wait for over 10 minutes in a red channel or at a red point

* reply to your complaints within 10 working days; and

* tell you how to refer a matter to the independent adjudicator if you are not happy.

Customs officers and their job

All our uniformed officers who deal with the public wear name badges and all our officers carry an identity card.

We will try to cause you as little trouble and delay as possible when we are doing our job.

Customs law and your rights

We will always treat you fairly, respect your rights and explain your rights to you. If you have any special needs please let us know.

The law says you must open, unpack and repack your bags if we need to examine them. But we will always offer you help in repacking them.

We will take great care not to damage your property. If we do damage anything, we will explain how you can claim compensation and we will give you a form to claim. We will confirm that we have received your claim form. We will settle straightforward claims within 10 working days of receiving them. We aim to settle all other claims within a month. If it takes longer we will write within the month to you to explain the delay.

If we need to search you, we will give you our reasons. And we will explain your right to appeal. You will be able to appeal to a senior customs officer immediately, or to a Justice of the Peace (a magistrate) when available, depending on the type of search. If your appeal is unsuccessful the search will take place.

Paying duty and tax

If you arrive from a country outside the European Union, you may have to pay duty, tax or both on goods you bring in. We will always offer to explain how the charges are worked out.

You can pay us:

* In pounds sterling;

* by cheque or Eurocheque (as long as your cheque card covers the amount);

* by MasterCard; or

* by Visa.

Some ports and airports also accept Switch. We will give you a receipt for your payment.

If you have to wait for more than 10 minutes to pay charges in a red channel or at a red point, we will explain why.

If you want to appeal against a written tax or duty decision, please let the officer know at the time if you can. If not, you must write to us within 45 days. If we cannot change our decision straight away, you can ask for a leaflet which explains how to appeal.

For most written decisions, you have the right to a formal review which is carried out by us. If you are still not satisfied, you can appeal to an independent VAT and Duties Tribunal whose services are free. We will give you their address.

If you have a complaint

If you think you have not been treated properly, please ask to see a senior officer who will try to sort things out straight away. If we cannot sort out the problem immediately you can complain to the local Head of Customs (see paragraph 22). They will acknowledge your letter, consider your complaint and reply within 10 working days of receiving it.

The Adjudicator

If you have complained to us and you are not satisfied with our reply, you may be able to take the matter to the Adjudicator for Customs and Excise who is an independent referee. The Adjudicator looks at complaints about such things as delays, mistakes and rudeness but cannot deal with tax or duty decisions which are considered by the VAT and Duties Tribunals. Please ask for a copy of the leaflet 'How to complain about Customs and Excise' The Adjudicator's service is free.

You can get advice from the Adjudicator's office at this address:

The Adjudicator's Office

Haymarket House

28 Haymarket

London

SW1Y 4SP

Phone: 020 7930 2292.

Your MP and the Ombudsman

You can of course write to your MP about the way Customs have treated you. Your MP may take it up with a Government Minister, or may agree to pass your complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the Ombudsman).

The Ombudsman can only take complaints through MP's, but you can get advice from the Ombudsman's office at this address:

Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration

Church House

Great Smith Street

London

SW1P 3BW

Phone: 020 7276 2130.

Our performance

We carry out regular surveys to find out your views on the way we do our job. You can get the results of these surveys in our leaflet 'Traveller's Charter Survey Results' which accompanies this Charter. You can also get a copy from Excise and Inland Customs advice centres, ports and airports. We also publish them in the Customs and Excise Annual Report. We use these survey results to assist us to improve our service to you.

We are working hard to improve our performance. Please write to us at any port or airport if you have ideas we can use.

More information and advice

You will find more information on how to complain in our Notice 1000 'Complaints against Customs and Excise'. We will give you this leaflet if you ask for one. Or you can get one from any Customs office. This leaflet includes a form which you can use for making your complaint.

Our Notice 1 'A Guide for Travellers' explains how to go through Customs, and sets out the rules about goods brought in from outside the United Kingdom You can get it from all Excise and Inland Customs advice centres, Customs arrival and departure areas and some travel agents, airlines and tour operators.

We have a network of Excise and Inland Customs advice centres. They can give you more information about Customs, including more copies of this Charter and other Customs notices. They will also answer your questions.

You can find our phone numbers in your phone book under 'Customs and Excise'. If you have any problems, please contact the following office during normal working hours:

Excise and Inland Customs Advice Centre

HM Customs and Excise

Dorset House

Stamford Street

London

SE1 9NG

Phone: 020 7202 4227.

You can get this leaflet, together with Notice 1 'A Guide for Travellers', on a free audio cassette from Excise and Inland Customs advice centres.

Charter Mark

The Charter Mark award scheme tests and rewards excellent public service.

You will come across our staff at many places including ports and airports. If you think you have received a very good service from us – or indeed any other public service – you might like to make a nomination for the Charter Mark awards.

Please send your nomination to:

The Charter Mark Awards

Citizen's Charter Unit

Cabinet Office

Horse Guards Road

London

SW1P 3AL

Postal Seizure Notice

This text was supplied to us from one our visitors.

Information concerning the seizure of Alcohol and Tobacco Goods.

The attached Notice of Seizure is in respect of Tobacco products recently sent to you from abroad.

This information is issued by HM Customs and Excise to help you understand the reason that these goods have been seized and, hopefully, avoid a similar situation arising in the future.

All Alcohol and Tobacco products entering, the United Kingdom are liable to Excise Duty If you receive a gift of alcohol or tobacco products through the post from a private person in the EC, Customs will not make additional charges providing all of the following conditions apply:

1) The gift must have sent by a private person in the European Union to a private person in this country.

2) The gift must be for your own use. You would be committing an offence if you sold on to someone else, excise goods for which United Kingdom Excise Duty has not been paid.

3) You must not have paid for the gift, either directly or indirectly, and there must be no commercial or trade element to the contents of the consignment.

4) Gifts should be of an occasional nature only, e.g. for a birthday, anniversary etc.

If you place an order for alcohol or tobacco products to be delivered to you in this country from a vendor situated in another Member State of the European Union. this is known as "distance selling" and there is a liability to both United Kingdom Excise Duty and VAT.

It will be seen that such goods cannot qualify for relief under the "gifts" concession and consequently there is no relief from duty available to such transactions. Such goods cannot qualify for relief under the "gifts" concession and consequently there is no relief from duty available to such transactions.

The overseas vendor is required to pay or otherwise make arrangements to pay the United Kingdom Excise Duty and VAT prior to the despatch of the goods and failure to do so renders them liable to seizure on importation. It does not matter that the goods are "tax paid" in the country of despatch, they remain liable to Excise and VAT on importation into the United Kingdom.

Writs

We often get e-mails asking about these.

Here is some useful information from a retired Customs Officer.

Customs Officers carry an identity card which is often enclosed within a leather folder which has an enameled metal port-portcullis badge on the front. This card is merely to identify the officer as an Officer of the Crown and on its own it does not confer the right to demand entry into private or other premises though it might be shown to a householder by an officer requesting access to his premises for the purpose of searching them. There are strict controls placed upon an officer's ability to demand entrance to premises but they are able to demand entrance if they produce the following documents:-

The Writ. This is a very "powerful" document which is really a relic of the old Revenue Officers when the local magistrate with other dignitaries were probably in receipt of brandy, baccy or claret from smugglers. The Writ also conferred the right of pursuit on the officers who could follow goods which had been passed from premises to premises via a garden wall or in a tunnel.

The " Writ" is normally under the control of an Assistant Collector or a Senior PACE Surveyor who should only allow the " Writ" to be used where there is very strong evidence that Customs laws were being contravened on the premises which were to be searched. This document has fallen into disfavor of late due to " Human Rights " legislation.

The Search Warrant. A Search Warrant can only be obtained from a magistrate on production of sufficient evidence. A Search Warrant restricts the powers of search to the named premises.

The use of both the writ and search warrants were modified under clause 25 of The Finance Bill 2000, section 161 of CEMA Act 1979 this was substituted by new sections 161 and 161A. The new section 161 allows for searches to be made without search warrants, where a delay in in making an application for the same to a JP may result in smuggled goods being removed to another location. There have been several cases under the Human Rights Act Article 8 the rights to privacy, but the courts have noted that urgent searches might be permissable without prior JP's approval. Our government estimates on the basis of past experiences that delays in obtaining search warrants could have resulted in the minimum loss of £1,000,000 of revenue detections. They therefore see the key to success in countering tobacco smuggling is the ability to act quickly on intelligence, and customs officers would not be able to do so effectively if they did not recourse to the writ. Writs are issued by the High Court of Justice at the beginning of the monarch's reign and remain valid until 6 months after the end of that reign, during that time they are lodged at every Customs office, and give documentary authorisations to search unspecified premises for smuggled goods.

From the FINANCE BILL 2000 – CLAUSE 25: POWER TO SEARCH PREMISES

INTRODUCTION

1. This clause modifies some of Customs' powers to enter and search premises for things which are liable to forfeiture. The aim is for smuggled goods to ensure that Customs have effective powers to tackle smuggling and that human rights are safeguarded.human rights are safeguarded without impairing Customs effectiveness in tackling smuggling

DETAILS OF THE CLAUSE

2. This clause substitutes section 161 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA) with new sections 161 and 161A.

3. Section 161 currently provides for Customs officers officers to enter and search any building or place premises where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that any thinggoods liable to forfeiture under Customs law isare kept or concealed there, and to seize or detain such thingsgoods. Sub section 161(1) allows for such action to be carried out by an officer having a under the authority of a writ of assistance, whilst sub Ssection 161(3) provides for such action to be carried out by an officer under the authority of this to be done using a search warrant issued by a justice of the peace.

4. New section 161 limits the use of the writ of assistance to those circumstances where thingsgoods liable to forfeiture are likely to be removed from the premises, destroyed or lost before a search warrant can be obtained and executed.

5. New section 161A retains the current provisions of existing section 161 regarding the use of search warrants.

BACKGROUND

6. Writs of assistance are documentary authorisations to search unspecified premises for smuggled goods. They are issued by the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice at the beginning of the monarch's reign and remain valid until 6 months after the end of that reign. During that time they are lodged at various Customs offices, where the senior manager is responsible for their custody and use.

CUSTOMS AND EXCISE CLAUSE 25

7. The use of writs of assistance is entirely under the control of Customs and Excise. This enables them to be obtained more quickly than a search warrant for which application must always be made to a justice of the peace. Also unlike the search warrant, the writ is not specific to any address, so it can be used to search for smuggled goods which have been moved from premises to premises.

8. Current law regarding the writ may breach the Human Rights Act 98 (HRA), which comes into force on 2 October 2000. This is because the HRA embodies the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into United Kingdom law, and it is thought that unrestricted use of the writ may infringe Article 8 of the ECHR (Right to respect for private and family life). The basis for this view is primarily a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in which a search by French Customs officials investigating currency offences was considered to be a breach of Article 8, as it was carried out under a statutory power of search without a warrant. However, the Court noted that urgent searches of premises might be permissable without prior judicial approval on the basis of urgency. This is supported by a decision of the Court of Appeal of Ontario in which it was ruled that the use of the Canadian version of the writ to search a house for drugs without a warrant was an abuse of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Again the need for urgent searches without a warrant was recognised and Canadian Customs law and Police powers were amended accordingly.

9. To ensure that use of the writ will comply with the HRA, In the light of the introduction of the HRA, iit is proposed to modify the law relating to the writ so that its use will be limited to urgent situations where the delay caused by seeking a search warrant to search premises for smuggled goods is likely to result in such goods being destroyed or moved to another location, before Customs have the opportunity to use the warrant. Where considerations of urgency do not apply, search warrants will always be sought. The provisions of clause 25 will achieve these changes .

10. The Government is opposed to total withdrawal of the writ as it could seriously impair Customs effectiveness in tackling smuggling, particularly of excise goods. It is estimated on the basis of previous experience, that in approximately 5% of cases, the delay caused by seeking a warrant could result currently in the minimum loss of £1,000,000 of revenue detections.

11. The need for the continued use of the writ in urgent circumstances is now greater than ever owing to the recent growth in tobacco smuggling. The key to success in countering this activity is the ability to act quickly on intelligence in order to disrupt the supply networks of smuggled cigarettes, and Customs officers would not be able to do so effectively if they did not have recourse to the writ in urgent situations.

Useful Outside links

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