UK duty deferment accounts for postponing customs payments

It is possible for UK-registered businesses to delay the payment of customs duties, VAT, and excise duties. Certain conditions must be met and an application should be approved by HMRC.

With a duty deferment account, taxpayers in the UK can defer payment of most customs charges, including customs duties, excise duties, and import VAT.

What is a duty deferment account in the UK?

Duty deferment accounts allow for postponed payments on most charges that arise when importing goods into the UK, such as customs duties, excise duties, and import VAT. If  you are only applying to delay the payment of import VAT, you may consider using the postponed VAT accounting scheme which automatically cancels out your input and output VAT in your VAT return.

The benefit of using a duty deferment account is that the payments for individual consignments are consolidated into one monthly payment that can be paid via direct debit.

Importing goods into the UK? Check out our step-by-step guide to make sure it’s done successfully.

How can I apply for a UK duty deferment account and who is eligible?

Who can apply?

Those who are importing goods or representing taxpayers making imports are eligible to apply for a duty deferment account, as well as those who are shipping goods from excise warehouses. It is not required to be established in the UK to apply for an account; anyone can apply for the account pay import duties in the UK.

How can I apply for a duty deferment account?

Those who wish to apply for an account must submit an application. Normally, HMRC estimates the turnaround for application processing to be around 30 days, however if guarantee (from a bank established in the UK) is required, the turnaround could be longer. In some cases, guarantee waivers are permitted, but only if the importer is established in the UK.

Find out more about guarantee waivers for duty deferment accounts here.


To successfully fill out the application for a duty deferment account, certain information is required:

  • EORI number, and name and address associated with the number
  • Registered company number if applicable from the Companies House
  • VAT number if applicable
  • Company director’s basic details
  • Responsible person for customs authorizations and their details
  • Estimated amount of debt

Once the application is approved and the direct debit is successfully set up, you will get a deferment approval number to be used on import declarations and to remove goods from an excise warehouse.

In case of a rejected application, HMRC will send out a notice to request a review or to appeal the decision.

How can I use my account to make payments?

All payments must be made by the BACS system of direct debit, and the currency must be in pounds sterling. In addition, HMRC imposes the following payment due dates:

  • Customs duties and import VAT
    On the 15th of the following month
    On the next working day if the 15th is not a working day
  • Excise duties

    The 29th of the following month (or 28th February)
    On the previous working day if the 29th (or 28th February) is not a working day

It is important to make sure that the direct debit is set up correctly and the amounts are correct. If not, HMRC may suspend the account until payment is received, and penalties and interest may apply.

Find more information on using the duty deferment account in this guide published by HMRC.


Get in touch

Questions about duty deferment accounts or importing goods into the UK? Speak to an agent today that would be happy to resolve your doubts.


Related VAT news

We use cookies to offer an improved online experience. More information