When is a Sample not a Sample?

There are very strict rules on the conditions and attributes relating to “sample” merchandise.
Did you know there have been recent cases where the Border Force has ‘selected’ shipments to a client insisting their goods were not samples at all? The government officers had seen similar goods for sale in charity shops and, therefore, argued that the goods did not fit the criteria for commercial samples. Goods should arrive with some form of mutilation.

Things to consider when selecting samples for shipment:

• Does your purchasing department or buyers understand the rules around samples? Ensure everyone is fully aware of the requirements.
• Does your supplier understand how to comply with the rules for UK samples? Check this point with all of your suppliers to avoid any issues.
• Have you instructed all of your UK Customs clearing agents on how your sample shipments should be treated? Seek advice if you’re not sure.
• What are your disposal procedures? Do you have any procedures in place? This is important – if you are unsure about this, talk to a trusted expert.
• What checks do you have in place to ensure disposal procedures are adhered to? Again, review your processes to make sure you have a suitable sample disposal procedure in place.

One important point you should consider is how your postal and express operator deals with your sample shipments. This is worth checking, because if your goods are not properly labelled as samples, then expect numerous problems and consequences. Lastly, always make sure you are aware of the location of your samples after import (for 6 months) in case there are any Customs issues.

If you’re unsure on how to classify goods as samples, please call 01283 553099 to speak to one of our Customs specialists.


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