You can process or store similar free circulation goods in place of goods imported to a Freeport customs special procedure (a single authorisation combined with easier declaration requirements). This is called equivalence. Free circulation goods are goods that can be moved without restriction and have had any duties paid on them.
There are different rules depending on whether you store or process your goods.
You cannot use equivalence if:
- it is to offset exports of free circulation goods so you can reduce import bills on non-UK imports for use on the UK market
- your customers can differentiate between your processing goods and free circulation goods
You need to tell us you’ll use equivalence when you apply to use the Freeport customs special procedure.
If you need to use equivalence after we’ve authorised you, you’ll have to apply for an amendment to your authorisation.
Before you process or store similar free circulation goods
The equivalent, free circulation goods you’re processing or storing need to have the same:
- 8-digit Tariff commodity code
- commercial quality
- technical characteristics
You must also decide:
- whether you could swap the goods for each other
- whether the goods are not noticeably different
- would your customers accept the difference in goods
Goods with different rules
If you’re processing or storing equivalent goods, you cannot replace either:
- organic goods with conventionally produced goods
- conventionally produced goods with organic goods
There are also different rules for some other goods.
Rice is authorised under tariff heading 10.06. It can only be approved where the length and width ratio of the rice falls within certain parameters.
Wheat can be authorised between non-UK harvested wheat released to free circulation and non-UK wheat.
Equivalence is allowed to produce white sugar falling within CN code 1701 99 10 between:
- raw cane sugar falling within CN code 1701 11 90
- raw beet sugar falling with CN code 1701 12 90
The time limit for importing the replacement goods is limited to the period of validity of the import licence.
Live animals and meat products
The use of equivalence for live animals and meat is not allowed. The ban can be lifted in exceptional circumstances. Contact HMRC if you think that such circumstances apply.
Milk and milk products
Equivalence is only allowed on condition the milk dry matter, milk fat matter and milk protein of the equivalent goods is not lower than those in the imported goods.
Genetically modified foods
No differentiation should be made by the authorisation holder or customers between modified and non-modified foods. The product should be equally acceptable to the non-UK customer and to a UK customer of similar non-modified foods.
How to store equivalent goods
Storing equivalent goods together
You can store the equivalent goods with those you’ve declared for free circulation. This is known as either common storage or common stocking.
You do not need to be able to tell the difference and you can use any of these goods to fulfil an order. Your records should show which goods:
- were declared to the Freeport customs special procedure
- are free circulation goods
If you import goods for process or repair, you can export a replacement part that you have already repaired if they meet the criteria for equivalence.
Storing equivalent goods in a Freeport
You can store equivalent goods with any other UK or non-UK goods. HMRC might ask you to identify the equivalent goods at certain times.
If you cannot do this, we’ll calculate the amount of equivalent goods by looking at the number, type, status and origin of each type of goods.
Your equivalent goods become non-UK goods when you release them for discharge, or when they have left the UK.
The equivalent goods and the processed products that are made will become non-UK goods. The goods they’re replacing become UK goods when they are released for discharge or when they have left the UK.
If you put goods that have been processed under the Freeport customs special procedure up for sale before you have discharged them, their status will change from non-UK goods to UK goods. If the equivalent goods are not available when you put your goods up for sale, you can ask that the equivalent goods are made available later. You must contact your supervising office to request the additional time.