• 01616 966 229
  • Request a callback
Stephensons Solicitors LLP Banner Image

News and Events

Shipping container seized by Border Force or HMRC? These are your options

View profile for Cameron Stubbs
  • Posted
  • Author
What are my options if goods are seized by Border Force or HMRC?

Stephensons has a team of specialist regulatory lawyers who provide advice and representation to businesses and individuals, nationally and internationally, in relation to the seizure of goods by UK Border Force and HM Revenue and Customs. Stephensons have a wealth of experience in recovering shipping containers that have been seized, including shipments from:

  • Europe
  • Africa
  • North America
  • Asia

Stephensons have an excellent record of recovering shipping containers of all values ranging from a few thousand to well over £100,000. Stephensons have successfully overcome a range of issues which commonly cause the seizure of shipping containers, including but not limited to:

  1. Issues over payment of duties/VAT
  2. Incorrect commodity codes
  3. Misdeclarations of value and/or description
  4. Failing to properly declare the goods
  5. Prohibited materials

Stephensons work closely with clients, specialist customs agents and specialist shipping agents to ensure clients have the best chance of having their goods returned. HMRC have the power to seize shipping containers, under Section 139 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. If a business has their container seized by HMRC or Border Force, and want the container to be returned, in accordance with Notice 12A, they have three options:

1. Challenge the legality of the seizure, through condemnation proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court

2. Write to HMRC or Border Force asking them to return the goods, even if accepting the seizure itself was legal, through a process known as restoration

3. Pursue both of the above routes at the same time

However, it is important to note that options one and two are entirely separate processes and businesses should seek legal advice before pursuing option three due to potential cost implications.

Case studies

  1. The regulatory team at Stephensons were instructed to act for an international company producing wine and gin, who had imported a shipment from France containing nearly 18,000 bottles of wine and gin. The goods had been seized as the company had failed to pay duties and VAT. The value of the goods was just below €100,000. Following consideration of Stephensons’ submissions, UK Border Force agreed to restoration, without charge.
  2. Stehensons represented a leading company who specialise in the supply of sublimation printing. The company had imported approximately £50,000 equipment from China via a shipping container which was seized due to the company using incorrect commodity codes. Following consideration of Stephensons’ submissions, HMRC agreed to restore the goods to the company.

What do our client’s say?

“I had two imported consignments seized by HMRC within a short interval of a month. I spoke to Cameron from Stephensons LLP and he seemed to understand the process. I engaged their service for restoration and the two consignments were restored. Communication: was excellent, they always updated on the status. Customer relations: excellent. Overall: excellent service” - View from a satisfied client

"Excellent service by Cameron who helped us fully as our container was held by HMRC customs. After 1 letter to HMRC our container was released. Thank you very much for your help." - View from a satisfied client

Contact us

If you would like to speak to a member of our specialist team in relation to recovering a seized shipment or any other item seized by Border Force and the HMRC please call us on 0161 696 6250 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.