Border Force Seizures

On occasion, packages are seized by either HMRC or Border Force when bring imported or exported across the UK border. This can occur for a variety of reasons. (i.e. the wrong tax or duties being paid, incorrect or missing paperwork such as licences-, prohibited items being included in the shipment, suspicion that the items in question may be the proceeds of crime).

Border Force officer may stop you when you pass through the green channel at airport. They are entitled to carry out baggage checks in front of you. You must declare to customs if you bring:

– Anything over your duty-free allowance

– Banned or restricted goods in the UK

– Goods that you plan to sell

– More than £10,000.00 (or its equivalent) in cash, if you are coming from outside the EU

Notice of Seizure of Goods

If you receive a Notice of Seizure of Goods from the Border Force, this means that items that you have tried to import or export haver been confiscated by the body in question. The communication will include the contact details of whichever organisation currently has your belongings in their possession, and will inform you of what to do next if your package has been seized by customs.

Border Force Restoration Policy

The Border Force restoration policy is a set of rules, stating that if Border Force has seized goods that belong to you, you can apply to have those item restored. You will need to submit a Restoration Request or Notice of Claim in 30 days after the seizures.

Border Force will consider all requests for the return of seized items, and will take into account all information that you provide to support your claim. However, if the items they have confiscated are prohibited or related to any crime – including tax evasion or smuggling – it is highly unlikely that they will be returned.

If you receive a Border Force warning letter (Notice 12A), the best first step is to seek legal advice. You should then contact the authority that currently holds your items as soon as possible, as Border Force expect to receive a Restoration Request or a Notice of Claim within a month.

Border Force usually start destroying perishable items such as alcohol and tobacco products after 45 days, so it is important to ensure that your claim is sent well before this time.

Border Force and HMRC

Border Force may pass your matter to HMRC if there is reasonable suspicion that is proceeds of crime related.

To request the return of seized items from HMRC, you will have to appeal a confiscation and request the return of seized items. HMRC and Border Force will consider all requests of this kind, However, if the items are found to be the proceeds of crime and/or are illegal to own in the UK, it is highly unlikely that they will be returned to you.


If HMRC or Border Force seized your goods, we can provide legal support by helping you to write as notice of claim or a restoration letter. We can also represent you if you decide to make a claim for unfair treatment by the Border Force officers, and/or if your HMRC seized goods are being treated as evidence of a crime.

Under these circumstances, a case may be taken to court claiming that the goods should not have been seized in the first place, and, if successful, you might be eligible for compensation. We have experience in helping clients dealing with Boarder force and HMRC, if you have any inquiry please contact us.