Top tips to help you complete your supplementary declarations on time when importing goods

Top tips to help you complete your supplementary declarations on time when importing goods


If you imported any non-controlled goods from the EU into Great Britain from 1 January 2021, you (or the customs intermediary that advises you) may have decided to use delayed declarations instead of declaring your goods to HMRC at the time you imported them.
If you did choose to delay, then you need to make your supplementary declarations within 175 days.
The first supplementary declarations are due from 25 June 2021, so if you imported anything in January (and you have not yet made your supplementary declaration), you only have a few weeks left to prepare.

This week we’re answering some of the top questions that businesses like yours are asking about supplementary declarations, to help you get everything in place so that you can complete them successfully. We will also tell you where you can get more support if you need it.


Question 1: How do I know when my supplementary declaration is due?
Supplementary declarations are due within 175 calendar days of the date you imported your goods. For example, if you imported goods on 1 January 2021, your supplementary declaration will be due by 25 June 2021.
You should check the date when you imported your goods and add on 175 calendar days from that date to get the deadline for when your supplementary declaration is due.


Question 2: Do I need a duty deferment account?
Yes. If you’re delaying your declarations and planning to make the supplementary declarations yourself, you will need a duty deferment account (DDA). You need to apply to HMRC for a DDA. It allows you to make one payment each month for any imports rather than paying every time you import goods, which can be helpful in managing your cashflow. You can find out how to apply for a duty deferment account on GOV.UK. Applications can take up to six weeks to be processed.
Even if someone else is doing your declarations, such as a freight forwarder, customs agent or fast parcel operator, most will require you to have your own DDA. You should check this with them if they haven’t already advised you to set one up.
A duty deferment account is not needed if the only tax due is import VAT and the importer is VAT registered.


Question 3: My business is UK VAT registered. How should I account for VAT when making a supplementary declaration?
If your business is UK VAT registered and you import EU non-controlled goods into Great Britain between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021, and choose to delay your import declarations, you must use postponed VAT accounting (PVA). This will enable you to account for import VAT on your VAT return.
There isn’t an application process for PVA, and you do not need to tell HMRC in advance if you want to start accounting for import VAT on your VAT return. You need to confirm in your supplementary declaration that you are using PVA.
When making your declaration there are two systems HMRC has available – CHIEF and CDS. If you use an intermediary, they will do the declaration for you and you won’t need to know which system they use. If you plan to declare yourself there are some differences between them.
If you use the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system
On your declaration, enter:
- your EORI number starting with ‘GB’ into box 8 (Header Consignee), or, if applicable, your VAT registration number in box 44h (Registered Consignee)
- ‘G’ (Postponed accounting for VAT approved) as the method of payment in Box 47e.
If you use the Customs Declaration Service (CDS)
On your declaration, enter:
- your VAT registration number at header level in data element 3/40.
VAT will be recorded against your EORI and will be at declaration level only.
When your supplementary declaration has been submitted, the amount of import VAT to be accounted for will be included on a statement that is published monthly. You will need to access the statement through the financial dashboard section of CDS. To do this you will need to register for CDS.
You should download your statement and use the figures on it to adjust any estimated figures you used on previous VAT returns.

If someone else is doing your customs declarations for you such as a freight forwarder, customs agent, broker or fast parcel operator you must tell them you are using PVA. Tell them that you want to use PVA to account for import VAT on the imported goods, so that they can complete the customs declaration correctly. Keep a written record of what is agreed for your records.
Take care when selecting how to account for import VAT on the customs declaration, as this cannot be changed once the declaration has been submitted.


Question 4: Who can help me with my declarations?
You can appoint a customs expert, such as a freight forwarder, customs agent, broker or fast parcel operator, to make declarations for you and guide you through the process. It can take time to decide which type of customs intermediary is right for you so give yourself enough time to do this and get a contract in place with your chosen intermediary before your declarations are due. Find more information about how to get someone to deal with customs paperwork for you on GOV.UK, as well as a list of customs intermediaries that can help you.


Question 5: Do I still need to submit my own supplementary declaration if I am using a customs expert?
If you have hired a customs intermediary to help you with customs paperwork, they can submit your supplementary declarations for you, but you should check and agree this with them. What they can do for you (and who will be liable) depends on: the services they provide, what you want them to do and the commercial agreement you have with them. They cannot act without written instructions from you. You can use our checklist of things to consider when you appoint a customs intermediary to help you find an intermediary that meets your needs.


Question 6: What information needs to go in to my supplementary declaration?
In addition to the details recorded in your entry in declarant’s record (EIDR), you will need to include further information about the goods in your supplementary declaration on CHIEF or CDS, depending on which system you or your customs intermediary are using.
If you have a customs intermediary to make your declarations for you, you’ll need to send them this information. You should speak to them about how and when they want you to provide it.
You or whoever is submitting your declarations for you will need to:
- include all the information required for an H1 customs declaration if you’re using CDS
- include the information required for a Supplementary Declaration for Imports (SDI) or Supplementary Declaration for customs warehouse removals (SDW) if you’re using CHIEF.


Question 7: What do I need to do if I decide to make my own supplementary declarations?
Most people get an expert such as a freight forwarder, customs agent or fast parcel operator to deal with their declarations. If you decide to make your own supplementary declarations, you must:
- make sure you have your own duty deferment account to pay any duty you owe
- apply for authorisation to use simplified declaration procedures, at least 60 days before you need to make your first supplementary declaration. You can apply by completing form C&E48
- get access to one of HMRC’s customs processing systems – CHIEF or CDS
- buy software that works with HMRC’s customs processing systems and is designed for completing supplementary declarations.
You can find more information about how to make supplementary declarations yourself on GOV.UK.


Question 8: Is there other support available?
If your business has no more than 500 employees and up to £100 million annual turnover, you can apply for the SME Brexit Support Fund. This offers businesses up to £2,000 to pay for practical support, including training or professional advice to adjust to new customs, rules of origin and VAT rules when trading with the EU. Applications will close on 30 June 2021 or earlier if all funding is allocated before this date.


Where to find help and support about importing and exporting
Our customer service advisors are available to answer your queries on the Customs and International Trade helpline. They’ll help you with importing, exporting and customs reliefs. The helpline is open from 8am to 10pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 4pm at weekends. Call to speak to an advisor on 0300 322 9434.