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What are Customs Procedure Codes (CPC)?

Put simply, a CPC code (Customs Procedure Code) is your reason for import or export, expressed as either a seven digit number or a six digit number and one letter. It describes the purpose of your shipment which in turn directly determines how your shipment is processed and ultimately if, how, when and from whom duties and taxes are collected.

As we all know, the key attribute of express parcel shipping is speed. Couriers can expedite goods around the world at incredible pace these days but mandatory customs clearance is all too often where the hard work comes undone. More often than not, missing, incomplete or unclear customs declarations are the culprit. Whilst the length of time customs take to clear a shipment can never be predicted with certainty, using an appropriate CPC code when creating a customs declaration is a step one can take to help minimise unnecessary delays. The faster customs can ascertain why a consignment is being imported, the faster they can move on to establishing what the goods are and whether duties and taxes apply. Only then can they authorise the release of a shipment for delivery.

At the very least, a short written statement must be present on your customs declaration that clearly explains the purpose of your shipment. With this, some carriers may assign a CPC code to your shipment for you but not all couriers will and even those that do, will not do so all of the time. For this reason it's best to familiarise yourself with the codes that apply to you, especially if you ship outside of the European Union on a regular basis.

The table below shows some example CPC codes, appropriate reasons for their use and what action customs make take as a result.

It is important to remember however that use of these CPC’s alone does not relieve any documentary or other control requirements for shipments that are subject to licensing, prohibition or restriction. It is essential therefore that you are aware of any customs formalities, regulations or requirements that might apply to you, your goods or the countries you are shipping between before you ship.

Our governments Gov.uk website offers an abundance of advice and information on international parcel shipping or, if you would prefer to talk to somebody, HMRC have a dedicated hotline for Customs and Excise queries (0300 200 3700).

CPC Code Shipment Type Reason For Use Likely Action
CPC 10 00 001 (Permanent UK Export) A sale of goods to an overseas customer. Duties/taxes brought to account straightaway (if applicable).
CPC 40 00 000 (Permanent UK Import) Goods/products imported for resale. Duties/taxes brought to account straightaway (if applicable).
CPC 40 00 C30 (Permanent UK Import) Import of product samples of negligible value. Depending on the value, duties /taxes may be suspended completely because of Commercial Samples Relief.
CPC 40 00 C09/C10 (Permanent UK Import) Capital goods/materials imported for product assembly. Duties/taxes brought to account straightaway (if applicable).
CPC 21 00 006 (Temporary UK Export) Union goods temporarily exported outside the union for repair or replacement under the standard exchange system. Duties/taxes suspended completely because of duty relief.
CPC 23 00 000 (Temporary UK Export) Goods shipped out on long-term loan or hire, to be eventually returned in an unaltered state A deposit may be taken and repaid when goods are re-exported.
CPC 53 00 003 (Temporary Admission/Import) Works of art temporarily imported for exhibition. Duties /taxes suspended completely because of duty relief or deposit may be taken and repaid when goods are re-exported.