How to Navigate the customs process

Starting the process - the AFA form

To give customs the power to detain and seize counterfeit products, a brand owner must file a form known as the ‘Application for Action' (AFA). There are two different forms:

1. National application

This is submitted in a particular EU Member State requesting its national customs authorities to take action in that Member State. We would apply for a national application for the UK, which means that only UK customs authorities will be able to take action to prevent the importation of suspected counterfeit goods at UK customs ports.

2. Union application

This is submitted in an EU Member State (in this case it would be the UK) requesting the customs authorities of that Member State and the customs authorities of one or more other Member States to take action in their respective territories to prevent the importation of suspected counterfeit goods.

How can we support you?

The right holder can rely on a variety of IP rights including (but not limited to) registered designs, trade marks and patents.

Once the type of AFA is selected we would:

  • Complete the form - which will require further information from the right holder in relation to the authentic products and any information the right holder may have regarding the characteristics of any known counterfeit goods).
  • Submit the form to HMRC IPRs Authorisations - they will review the form and let us know the outcome of the application within 30 working days.

The typical cost for drafting the AFA and obtaining further information from the right holder is likely to be between £1,000 to £1,500 (plus VAT) assuming that the information required is easily provided by the right holder.

Taking a proactive approach to intelligence-led seizures

Once an AFA has been granted, it is important to be proactive and feed any information about suspected counterfeit/lookalike goods to the relevant customs authorities. This will help enable them to intercept the suspected shipment.

How can we support you?

We assist brand owners with raising their profiles with customs and other law enforcement officers by attending various conferences, providing training days for them, and proactively supporting their activities through conducting investigations into alleged infringing activities and then passing the information on to customs and other law enforcement officers. With our extensive connections and network, we are able to conduct research and investigations into the UK market and elsewhere to identify where the counterfeit products are being stored/imported into and then hand such information to customs so they can detain any suspected counterfeit products.

What information is needed?

The more information provided to customs the better, for example:

  • The name of the suspected company shipping in the counterfeit goods.
  • The ports likely to receive the suspected counterfeit goods.
  • The suspected product type.

It greatly helps our efforts in combatting counterfeit goods if this information is passed to us as soon as it is available.

The more proactive a brand owner is, the more likely that customs will take action and be successful.

How are goods detained?

  • Customs intercept and detain goods. They send the right holder images/samples of the goods.
  • Right holder verifies if suspected goods are counterfeit.Deadline for the right holder’s response is 10 working days. In exceptional circumstances, an extension of 10 working days can be granted.
  • If the detained goods are counterfeit, the legal representative contacts customs on the day of the deadline or one day before to ask if the importer has filed an objection to the detention:
No objection

If no objection has been filed by the importer, the legal representative will complete and submit the 'Section B Form' to customs requesting destruction of the detained goods.

The goods will be destroyed.

Objection

If an objection has been filed by the importer, a claim form will have to be issued at Court to ensure the detained goods are not released.  
Further correspondence with the importer to secure a signed settlement agreement may follow depending on the circumstances of the infringement.

The claim is progressed to secure agreement.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions or would like support navigating the customs process, please get in touch.