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There are many reasons why you may have something seized by HMRC, but it is possible to challenge the decision to seize a possession and ask for it to be returned to you.

Goods may be seized by Customs Officers in the UK if certain criteria apply to you. If you have broken any regulations or laws of customs, your goods could be confiscated. If duty on excise goods isn’t paid, including tobacco and alcohol, they could be seized. Any items which are banned or restricted in the UK could also be seized.

What happens next?

If you are there when something is seized from you, a Seizure Information Notice will be provided and the reason willHMRC advice be explained. The goods or items which have been taken will be listed on the notice. When possessions are seized while you are not there, a Notice of Seizure will be issued through the mail. This will tell you the reason for seizure and the legal reasons behind this, as well as details of who has seized the items and a list of what has been taken.

There are three options if you have something seized by HMRC; if you don’t want the goods returned to you, no further action is required. HMRC will dispose of unwanted items. You can challenge the seizure if you have reason to believe it wasn’t legal, or you can apply to HMRC in writing to have your goods returned. If they refuse, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed by an independent officer.

Challenging HMRC

If you don’t consider the seizure to be legal, you can send a ‘Notice of Claim’ to HMRC, including your name, address, reference number provided by the customs officer and the reasons for believing that the items were seized illegally.

The restoration process

If you want your possessions back, even if the seizure was legal, you can write to HMRC explaining why the goods should be restored to you. If HMRC won’t agree to restore the items or it is imposing terms, like a restoration fee, then you can ask for a formal review of the decision. The request must be made within 45 days of the decision, as goods may be disposed of after this time. If the decision is upheld or varied and you don’t agree, you can apply to the First-Tier Tribunal to appeal against the decision.

Restoration is a complex area and may require professional assistance.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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