Visa Information, Visa Requirements, Visa Application Guidelines, Immigration Rules and Inquiry

Sunday, 28 June 2015

What to do when UK Customs seizes your things

Customs will destroy or sell anything it seizes from you for breaking the rules on bringing or receiving goods from abroad, unless you:
  • ask for your things back - you can do this even if you agree customs was right to seize them
  • think customs was wrong to seize your things - you’ll have to go to court
This applies to:
  • goods, cars and other vehicles you bring into the UK
  • any vehicle you use to transport your things
  • packages in the post

Collecting things from a seized vehicle

You have 45 days to collect anything you left in your vehicle if it’s been seized. Send a letter marked ‘personal property’ to the address on the notice or letter you got from customs.

If your things or cash are seized as criminal evidence

Customs officers can also seize goods, vehicles and cash you bring into the UK if they suspect a crime. They’ll explain what happens next and what you can do.

Complain about how you were treated

You can complain about how customs officers treated you during a customs seizure. Complain to Border Force or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), depending on who seized your things.

Check the notice or letter you got from customs if you don’t know who seized your things.

Ask for your things back

You can ask for your things back (make a ‘restoration request’) even if you agree customs was right to take them.

If you think you should get your things back because you didn’t break the rules (eg you brought in alcohol for your own use) you must ask for a court hearing instead of making a restoration request.

If your request is accepted, you can get your things back but you may have to pay a fee and any duty you owe.

You may be offered compensation if your things have already been destroyed or sold.

Making a request

You must explain why you think you should get your things back, eg you can now provide missing import or export documents.
You must include:
  • the seizure reference number on the notice you got from customs
  • your name and address
  • a list of the things you want back - include details, eg quantities and brands
  • proof of ownership - for a vehicle, this must be proof of purchase, eg a receipt
  • anything else that supports your request to get your things back, eg import documents

Where to send it

Send your request to Border Force if it seized your things.
National post seizure unit Border Force
3rd Floor
West Point
Ebrington Street
Plymouth
PL4 9LT

If HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) seized your things, send your request to the address on the notice or letter you got from customs.

Check the notice or letter you got from customs if you don’t know who seized your things. Contact HMRC if you need a copy of the notice.

Deadline

There’s no deadline for making a restoration request. But your things will usually be destroyed or sold:
  • straight away if they’re perishable, eg food, beer or tobacco
  • 45 days after they’re seized if they’re not perishable, eg spirits and cars
If you send a restoration request, non-perishable things are usually kept until your request is considered.

Getting legal help

You can appoint someone to deal with your request for you, eg a solicitor. Send an agent authority form with your request.

If you’re unhappy with the response

You can ask for the response to your request to be reviewed if:
  • you don’t get your things back or get compensation
  • you disagree with the fee for getting your things back
The letter telling you the response will also tell you how to ask for a review.

If you disagree with the review

You can appeal to the tax tribunal if you disagree with the outcome of the review.

Ask for a court hearing

Send a ‘notice of claim’ if you think it was illegal for customs to seize your things, eg you brought in alcohol or tobacco for your personal use.

A seizure is legal if you break the rules on bringing or receiving things from abroad.

You’ll have to go to court - if you win your claim, you’ll get your things back. If they’ve already been disposed of, you can ask for compensation.

You may have to pay court costs if you don’t win your claim.

Sending a notice of claim

You’ll need to include:
  • the seizure reference number on the notice you got from customs
  • your name and address
  • a list of the things you think customs was wrong to seize - include details, eg quantities and brands
  • proof of ownership if your vehicle was seized
  • why you think it was illegal for customs to seize your things

If Border Force seized your things

Send your notice of claim to Border Force’s post seizure unit.
National post seizure unit
Border Force
3rd Floor
West Point
Ebrington Street
Plymouth
PL4 9LT

 

If HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) seized your things

Send your notice of claim to HMRC specialist investigations.
HM Revenue and Customs
Specialist investigations
Appeals and reviews team S0777
PO Box 29992
Glasgow
G70 6AB

Check the notice or letter you got from customs if you don’t know who seized your things. Contact HMRC if you need a copy of the notice.

Deadline

Your notice of claim must be received by HMRC or Border Force within a month of your things being seized.

Your things are usually kept until your claim is decided, unless they’re perishable, eg food.

Get legal help

You can appoint someone (eg a solicitor) to deal with your claim and represent you in court. Send an agent authority form with your notice of claim.

If you live outside the European Union

You must appoint a UK solicitor to handle your claim and represent you in court if you live outside the European Union (EU).

Send an agent authority form giving the solicitor’s details with your notice of claim.

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