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15-7-2014 9:21 pm  #1

Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

This set of FAQ's is based on the experience of the forum members and is offered in good faith. We are not legally trained but have helped several people to win back their goods.If you have any doubts whatsoever about the information offered you should seek proper legal advice. 

 Why do I need to answer your 10 questions in order to get advice.


 The questions are not personal but to give you the correct advice we need to know the circumstances.For example;-you could be out of time to appeal.You may be a foreign resident, different rules apply.You may be a revenue trader. Without the info from the 10 questions we could be several hours worth of posts down the line before we realise you are getting the wrong advice

What is NOC, SAR, PCAL etc 

A very good glossary written by the blocked dwarf :-


My goods have been seized what now?

 The appeals procedure :-


 The monetary figures have increased since this was written.

What is the timeline for action  

 When your goods are seized you have one month to send in a NOC. Once you receive a BF acknowledgement that they have received your NOC (usually a couple of days), customs (BF) have 6 months to get the papers into court from the date on the acknowledgement letter.
At the present time it is taking almost the whole 6 months for BF to get the papers in so don't expect to hear as soon as you send in your NOC.It could take a further 6 or 8 months to get the matter to court. Be aware that under Civil Procedure Rule 7.5 it can take up to 4 months to serve the summons after it is issued by the court.
If you go to magistrates court and lose you have 21 days to get a Crown court appeal in.Customs also have 21 days to appeal if they lose. 

Once you send in your NOC there is nothing else for you to do until you hear about the condems or alternatively the 6 months expires. The letter BF sends about whether you wish to continue with condems is nothing more than intimidatory mind games on their part. Intimidatory because it usually includes a reminder of the court costs if you lose. So ignore it!

If customs do not get the papers into court before the 6 month deadline the case becomes time-barred, they automatically lose and you are a free agent to take whatever action you choose.

Note.If the action is in Scotland no 6 month time limit exists.In NI the 6 month limit does exist.  

What is the difference between appeal and restoration.  

You start the appeal process by sending in a NOC to Border Force. This kickstarts a process whereby BF can either return your goods or start condemnation proceedings (condems) at magistrates court (mags) , usually local to where the goods were seized.
 Restoration is a process dealt with internally. There are few legal powers and generally it is a case of more or less asking ''can I have my goods back please''. You cannot claim the goods were for your own use ie seized illegally, as the process does not have the power to decide that. If you disagree with the result you can ask for a review and then go to a tax tribunal. If you are appealing also, by way of condems, the tribunal cannot be held before your appeal is concluded.People are attracted to the restoration process because there are no costs involved, but I think it's fair to say there is very little chance of success.

What happens if I don't appeal or apply for restoration. Duty penalties.

 You may be told after the initial stop that you can forfeit your goods and walk away without any further action. This is not true!

Once the month is up in which you have to appeal, it is likely you will receive a duty penalty. The maximum amount they can demand for a first-time offence is (for tobacco) £198.10 per kg seized + a substantial wrongdoing penalty + vat. However forum members are reporting that the amount of the demands is varying and in some cases demands are not being issued at all.For cigarettes the amounts are still substantial but calculated with different figures
2016/2017 dutyrates:-


I just want my car back, what can I do /It was a borrowed car-can they seize it. 

You can forfeit your goods and just apply to have your car back either by appeal or restoration. If it's a hire vehicle the hirer normally get's the vehicle back anyway. If it's a borrowed vehicle it's treated as if it's your own.

Ref restoration. If you can put a good enough argument together on humanitarian grounds, by their own policy your car should be returned. This does not include reasons of financial hardship.
WARNING! you are still the owner of the vehicle after it is seized and are responsible for tax,insurance and SORN etc.

 I won at magistrates court/ Crown court but they issued a s144 certificate.

 A s144 cert will usually be asked for by BF's barrister if they lose. If it is granted it means they acted reasonably in seizing your goods even though they were wrong. A s144 protects customs from any further action by you in claiming compensation other than the cost of your goods. Some friendly judges may award you a small amount of court costs also.


  Also see Part 2 below

Last edited by eezyrider (27-3-2016 12:00 pm)


16-7-2014 7:51 am  #2

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

excellent,thanks for taking time to collate this.

Please ensure you do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force will use your posts here as evidence against you in court.
Better to live one day as a lion than a thousand days as a sheep'

16-7-2014 8:06 am  #3

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

Well done Eezy!  A very good guide for overseas shoppers.

I think it would also be helpful (apologies if this is posted somewhere already) to give some advice to newbies considering overseas shopping to get some experience first!

Where people come across this site, this would act as a guide advising them to start with MILs and then gradually build up to levels that suit their lifestyle.




16-7-2014 3:08 pm  #4

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

Thanks for the support guys, part 2 coming soon.

     Thread Starter

16-7-2014 3:58 pm  #5

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

Johny_MK wrote:

Where people come across this site, this would act as a guide advising them to start with MILs and then gradually build up to levels that suit their lifestyle.



well starting with MILs and than building up is risky, my case can be an example as coffee machine stated in the witness statement that while bringing (I think it was 2000) from Spain was credible, the 11340 brought from Poland was`t.
eezyrider well done

Last edited by piotrek (16-7-2014 3:59 pm)

Please ensure you do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force will use your posts here as evidence against you in court.

16-7-2014 4:33 pm  #6

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

A very clear and concise guide that should, if used properly save a lot of posts about questions that have already been answered.

Good one Eezy http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


16-7-2014 6:12 pm  #7

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

What happens to my goods and car

 Goods are normally destroyed after 30 days to save storage charges. Cars of little value are destroyed and higher value ones are sold at auction.
Why? -because they can!
There does not appear to be a policy on how long cars are stored. If a duty demand has been issued the sale proceeds will be offset against it and you will receive any residue.   

Can I bring my own legal action against customs.

 No. At least not until the fate of your goods has been decided. The whole process from your initial stop is covered by CEMA 1979. Until this process has been exhausted there is no other course of action open to you.

It is possible if you have won your case and no s144 cert was granted, to take customs to the county court for out of pocket expenses such as ferry fares etc. This course of action has been tried and tested and at least one of our members has won. 

  I'm appealing, what do I include in my NOC.How do I write a NOC

 As a start I suggest referring to and answering the A-J questions which should have been asked at interview:- 
 (a)P’s reasons for having possession or control of those goods
b)whether or not P is a revenue trader
c)P’s conduct, including P’s intended use of those goods or any refusal to disclose the intended use of those goods
d)the location of those goods
e)the mode of transport used to convey those goods
f)any document or other information relating to those goods
g)the nature of those goods including the nature or condition of any package or container
h)the quantity of those goods and, in particular, whether the quantity exceeds any of the following quantities—

  • 10 litres of spirits,
  • 20 litres of intermediate products
  • 90 litres of wine (including a maximum of 60 litres of sparkling wine)
  • 110 litres of beer,
  • 800 cigarettes,
  • 400 cigarillos (cigars weighing no more than 3 grammes each),
  • 200 cigars,
  • 1 kilogramme of any other tobacco products;

(i)whether P personally financed the purchase of those goods
j)any other circumstance that appears to be relevant. 

 Also include trip history for the last 12 months.
Usage calcs essential for these to be totally accurate and credible
.If you were accused of not being able to afford the goods you will need to prove that you can. If self-employed an accountants certificate of disposable income will kill that one off or a financial statement showing ingoings and outgoings. ATM slips or anything else you can think of.

 At this stage it is beneficial to add-in any other info that will help your case as there is a remote possibility it will sway customs into returning your goods. Furthermore it should be visible to a court that you have done everything possible to resolve the matter. 

 What regulations/laws allow me to bring in any quantity of excise goods from an EU state for my personal use. 

EU directive 2008/118EC 

Personal use includes gifts for which you do not receive any money ''or moneys worth'' ie you cannot for example pay the gardener in tobacco


 I'm nervous about going to court. Could I have a member of the forum represent me in court.

 It's not something we do but in any case you have to be legally qualified or directly involved with the case to address the court. You may have a ''McKenzie friend'' with you to assist with your paperwork etc, but he may not address the court or conduct the case for you. 


 Customs refused to give me the reasonable grounds for the stop. Does this make the stop illegal and void the seizure. 

Yes and no! 
The stop may be illegal but unfortunately you cannot use it as a defence to say your goods should not have been seized.  

Customs did not follow their own procedures, Can I use this in my defence.

 There are a number of voluntary procedures that customs use which are internal procedures. If they are not a requirement of CEMA1979 it is unlikely that a court will be interested.Example: If they promised to send you a reminder which did not turn up on time.


 I did not declare the full amount of goods I was carrying/Some of my goods were concealed.

 If you did not declare the full amount of goods you were carrying or if you concealed some of the goods, this is sufficient reason for Customs to seize your goods.  

I bought my goods in Andorra/the Canary Isles/ Gibraltar / the Channel Islands. Surely this is classed as an EU purchase. 

Unfortunately not. These areas (and others) are not within the EU ''customs zone'' and are classed as duty-free and the appropriate limit is enforced. 

 My duty-free goods were seized because I was over the limit. 

The rules about duty-free are clear. You will not get back any goods that were over the limit.  

Other people gave me money to bring back tobacco for them. Is that OK.

No. Personal imports must be brought into the country by the owner of the goods.  

What is the best way of contacting Customs for a quick response. 

Certain things such as your NOC need to be posted (recorded delivery). However where the method of contact is not specified, we have found that a fax usually gets a quick response.

Last edited by eezyrider (27-3-2016 12:14 pm)

     Thread Starter

16-7-2014 6:20 pm  #8

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

I think this now covers most of the popular post seizure FAQ's, unless anyone thinks of any more?

     Thread Starter

16-7-2014 7:16 pm  #9

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

That ia absolutely brilliant with easy access to very good links.
Being new to this site myself....and still getting my head round some of the terminology.....working down that guide and the links I think I would have found the answers to most of my questions and most likely all of them.
Keep up the good work eventually with a site like this everyone will know their rights:
Just as an addendum......admin please move if better topic to add to. I was speaking to a Clerk at Hull Crown Court yesterday about my recent case and he commented that "we don`t get a lot of tobacco seizure appeals through the Court" which goes to show how many people must give up their goods after seizure or after the Magistrates Court.
Most likely because of the threat of ever increasing costs and them thinking they had no chance of winning at Crown Court


17-7-2014 8:15 am  #10

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

Again, very good Eezy.  Well done!

I have thought of a name for the point I raised above "The Newbies guide to Overseas Shopping".

Once again apologies if this is already present.  If not perhaps something to consider for the future.



20-8-2014 11:23 pm  #11

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's


After many hours of thought I can't see how to put together a guide on how to advise shoppers abroad. There is probably more info on the site in that respect than there is on the subject of post seizure and collating it would be an almost impossible task.

The main problem is there is no hard and fast rules on how to deal with customs apart from SOT recorder and don't sign the notebook. There are also lots of FOI's to to familiarise with.We each have our own way of doing it depending on our personal attributes and knowledge of the regs.

     Thread Starter

19-9-2015 9:14 pm  #12

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

Moved to own thread


Last edited by eezyrider (19-9-2015 11:28 pm)


19-6-2019 8:44 am  #13

Re: Goods seized? Start here for our FAQ's

With reference to the above guides Part 1 and 2, please check through the forum as some points have been superseded by changes of procedure, rules and duty tariffs.

Our approach to costs has also been updated as we now request an award to cover everything from the court.

     Thread Starter

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