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HMRC will accept requests to suspend payment of deferred import VAT and customs duty

HMRC announced on Friday 10th April that they will consider requests from UK VAT registered businesses who import goods from outside the EU, to suspend the monthly March deferment account payment for import VAT and customs duty, which is due this Wednesday 15 April. The timing of the announcement does not provide much time for importers to contact HMRC and request this suspension.

Requests for this suspension must be made via one of three channels listed below.

Telephone the HMRC Duty Deferment Office on 03000 594243
Email the HMRC Duty Deferment Office at cdoenquiries@hmrc.gov.uk
Telephone the Covid-19 helpdesk on 0800 024 1222

The applicant will need to explain how the pandemic has impacted the businesses finances and cashflow, and suggest a belated payment plan. Once an agreement is reached, HMRC will not approach the bank guarantor to ask for the outstanding payment.

No interest will be charged by HMRC, and the compliance status of the importer will not be affected. The importer can continue to use their duty deferment account as usual during the payment suspension period.

A similar approach is available for VAT registered importers who do not use a deferment account and will struggle to pay import VAT and customs duty on particular imported shipments. Currently the goods will not be released from Customs control at the port or airport without either a deferment account or immediate payment, but importers can contact HMRC at the following email address to request a suspension period. HMRC suggest that these agreements may require that the importer creates a bank guarantee.


If you have any questions please contact one of our VAT team.