What is a Seized Goods Letter?

When government agencies, including HM Revenue and Customs and Border Force, seize goods, a notification of seizure should be provided, identifying the items involved. The type of seized goods letter you receive depends on whether or not you were present at the time.

A common notice for seized goods is Notice 12a, which applies to the seizure of items like goods and vehicles under section 139 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

  • If you were not present, a Notice of Seizure should be sent through the post.
  • If you or a representative were present during the seizure, a Seizure Information Notice (form C156) should have been provided.


Both of these letters outline your rights to appeal against the seizure of the goods in question.

Seized Goods Letters are employed to inform about the seizure of items in the postal system and those entering the country through Customs.

HMRC and Border Force can seize goods, cars, and other vehicles, including the vehicle(s) used to transport items.


Your chances when you receive a Seized Goods Letter

If you acknowledge that you breached the rules by importing these goods and want them returned, you can submit a restoration request. If approved by the authorities, you will likely be required to pay a fee and any necessary duty on the items.

While both HMRC and Border Force have the authority to seize goods in this manner, they are distinct government bodies. Therefore, carefully review the details in your letter to determine which organisation you need to contact.


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Questioning the seizure of goods 

When you disagree with the seizure of your items by HMRC or Border Force, you have the right to challenge the legality of their actions within one calendar month of the seizure date.

You’ll need to complete a Notice of Claim specifying the items, the reason for your challenge, and if a vehicle was seized, provide proof of ownership.

After receiving the Notice of Claim, the concerned body initiates ‘condemnation proceedings’ in court. This process determines the legality of their actions—it is not an action against you as the owner but does require your presence at the court hearing.

You’ll need to declare under oath that you own the goods and explain why you believe the seizure was unjustified. The authority presents their evidence, and the court then makes a decision.

Vanguard Insolvency possesses extensive experience in handling seized goods issues and can offer the professional guidance you require. With offices across the country, we can swiftly determine your best options. With 100 offices across the UK, expert and confidential advice is always within reach.

David Jackson MD
Senior Partner at Vanguard Insolvency Practitioners | Website

I am an insolvency professional with a distinguished career specialising in commercial insolvency, adeptly navigating Creditors Voluntary Liquidation, Company Voluntary Arrangements, and Company Administrations. With a comprehensive understanding of insolvency laws and an unwavering commitment to ethical practices.