Description, Origin, and Value in the Export Licence

Dishonest, opportunistic, and unscrupulous importers and exporters might to disguise description, value, and/or origin of goods on the export licence documentation. The description of goods submitted to obtain the export licence may not truthfully describe actual contents of a package, carton, or container. This will likely be done in order to evade contraband regulations, that is, to effectively smuggle illicit or controlled items beyond customs borders to supply a black or grey market. Biological items, such as animals and plant life, are common ingredients in exotic foodstuffs. The ecological implications of introducing non-native creatures and flora or fauna could be severely negative. Similarly, endangered species, particularly those that cannot be legally obtained or bred in the United Kingdom, are highly sought after by collectors and producers and consumers of traditional ethnic medicines, so have a very high cash value. This increases the likelihood of illicit import. A genuine description of such an item will result in export licence refusal. If it is successfully exported, truthful labelling will result in immediate inspection and likely confiscation. The importer may also face fines and criminal charges. For this reason, fraudulent descriptions of high-value forbidden items are frequent events.

Certain classes of product are also subject to duties and tariffs, regardless of their country of origin, quality, or quantity. This measure is intended to protect domestic industry against low-priced foreign imports and prevent the public purchasing goods that are substandard, illegal, or hazardous. Knowing that honest declaration of contents will likely result in the return or confiscation of cargo, importers and exporters might attempt to misrepresent the cargo by describing the contents of containers and cartons falsely or ambiguously.

The origin of imports may be concealed in order to evade quota tariffs, which are levied by the government to limit the quantity of goods entering British markets from nations with whom the United Kingdom has a severe trade imbalance, and to prevent dumping of low-cost products that will degrade the competitiveness of domestic companies and the efficiency of the free market as a mechanism of economic control. The country of the product origin may be obfuscated, omitted, or simply untruthfully reported on the documentation/export licence if the ethically unencumbered exporter is aware that the product is quota-controlled or subject to import moratorium. Due to trade agreements and economic relationships, imports into the United Kingdom from certain favoured countries face low or zero import duties. For this reason, importers and exporters might attempt to report the country of origin as being a country that has such trade privileges.

Goods whose value exceeds a specified ceiling will be liable for duties. The importing party will be charged the goods they are trying to import exceed the value limitation (such limitations can be found on the customs and government websites of most European countries). In the hope of evading such charges, the importer might collude with the exporter to disguise the true value of the goods by reporting a lower than actual value on the documentation.