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Import Export Hub



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 appoint agents early in the process

What will I need to tell my customs agent?

You may issue clearance instructions before the goods are moved or you may be requested to provide them following dispatch or even arrival of the goods. Where you receive a ‘Request for Customs Clearance Information’, you should respond to this urgently. This is your opportunity to confirm the details for the import declaration and provide any certificates to claim for reliefs. Failure to respond to a request for clearance instructions may result in extra costs and delays.

  • The University’s VAT registration number – GB 823 8476 09
  • The University’s EORI number - GB823847609000
  • Instruct the agent to use Postponed VAT Accounting (PVA)
  • The Commodity Code to be used (also called HS code)
  • INCOTERMS that will apply to this shipment. Where possible, University Standard Terms & Conditions should be used – DDP INCOTERMS (Delivery Duty Paid) but other terms may be more appropriate.
  • The value for customs declarations - typically the price paid for the goods or cost of identical goods.  Nil value is not acceptable.
  • If relief from Import VAT and/or Duty can be claimed (e.g. scientific equipment or medical exemption), the agent should use the correct Customs Procedure Code and you will need to provide a NIRU and/or an Import VAT Relief Certificate. Contact the Import Export Hub for help.
  • The Customs Procedure Code (CPC)
  • You may also need to provide an import licence
  • Your department name and contact details within the department for any future enquiries. 
  • The Import Export Hub can help with this. It will help to complete this form.

Documentation required from agent/supplier

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

  • airway bill/bill of lading
  • delivery note
  • C88 (official Customs evidence)
  • commercial invoice
  • proof of origin (if applicable)
  • import licence (if applicable)

Fast Parcel Operators

Sometimes, a fast parcel operator (FPO) may be appointed by your supplier. Please see the table below for details of the most frequently used ones.


The University Tax Team has already issued instructions to DHL, FEDEX & UPS that we wish to use Postponed VAT Accounting.  However, please do confirm this instruction as it is not always followed. 

Supplier Supplier Number Contact clearance instructions
UPS LTD 62454

Where you receive a ‘Request for Customs Clearance Information’,  Departments should respond to this urgently.

This is your opportunity to confirm the details for the import declaration and provide any medical exemption certificates and/or duty relief certificates and to add details to the ‘any other information’ field to highlight any reliefs to be claimed. 

It is important that these are dealt with quickly if you are to avoid incorrect import entries. Failure to respond to a request for clearance instructions may result in extra costs. 

Customs Procedure Codes

The Customs Procedure Code (CPC) is used to identify any customs regime that the goods are being entered into and removed from (if applicable). 

The Import Export Hub can assist with selecting the correct CPC.  The specific conditions can be complex.

Within the University the most common CPCs are:
40 00 000 This is the most commonly used CPC code - indicating there are no reliefs or special procedures to be applied
40 00 1RV Used for goods or consumables where no other VAT relief or exemption applies. Can be used for Medical Exemption. A Medical Exemption certificate should be supplied to the customs agent
40 00 C13 Used for goods that qualify for scientific instrument and apparatus relief. A NIRU certificate is required to claim relief on the customs duty
For more information see HMRC's website

What is a customs agent?

The main function of a customs agent/broker is to offer a professional customs clearance and representation service to organisations importing and exporting goods from/to countries outside Great Britain. The primary activity for a customs agent is to submit import/export customs declarations to HMRC on our behalf and to facilitate the payment of import VAT, customs duty, excise duty etc.
You can hire an agent 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

The University commonly uses fast parcel operators to deal with its imports, who also offer import/export agent services.  Sometimes freight forwarders and specialist transport companies are used. See this guidance for further information:

Once you have decided on a customs agent that suits your needs, or you decide to use an agent that the supplier has appointed, you will need to ensure they are set up as a supplier on CUFS.

You will also need to set up an account with the agent. This will usually involve completing and signing an agreement confirming that you are appointing the customs agent to act on your behalf as a representative. This should be signed by an authorised individual within your Department e.g Head of Department.  

If you require further assistance please contact the Import Export Hub.

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