Clandestine Entrant Penalties

A clandestine entrant is an individual who attempts to enter the UK without being detected. If caught, a civil penalty can be issued to the owner, driver or operator of the vehicle. We are able to provide expert advice and support in relation to both clandestine entrant and unsecured vehicle civil penalties.


The term ‘clandestine’ means to be done secretively and is commonly related to illicit actions. A clandestine entrant is an individual who attempts to enter somewhere, or something, (in this context the UK) without being detected. 

It is common knowledge that people will go to great lengths to try and enter the UK undetected. But why do they do this? The UK border is patrolled and governed by the authorities and legitimate passage through these borders is controlled by legislation and immigration rules. 

Those individuals who do not hold the relevant authority to enter often seek to circumvent immigration control and attempt to enter without being detected.

To prevent and reduce clandestine entrants, the UK Government introduced a civil penalty scheme enabling the imposition of fines upon those who are found carrying a clandestine entrant. 

Clandestine entrant civil penalties are designed to encourage the owners, drivers and operators of vehicles crossing the border to take responsibility for the security of their vehicle and any load that they are carrying.  

The level of the clandestine civil penalty has been increased and individuals responsible for carrying a clandestine entrant can now be fined up to £10,000 per clandestine entrant. The civil penalty scheme prescribes that in addition to the driver, the owner or hirer of the vehicle (or operator if detached from a vehicle) can also be imposed with a fine of up to £10,000 per clandestine entrant. 

This can result in significant fines being placed upon both the driver and the business. Any unpaid driver fines can also become the liability of the vehicle owner (or hirer) under the joint liability rules. 

Many people don’t know that you can now also be fined for failing to secure a goods vehicle. The fine imposed for such a failure under section 31A of the Immigration Act 1999 can amount to £6,000 per responsible person per incident. The same level of fine can also be imposed upon the owner/hirer of the vehicle.  

Where a penalty is imposed for failure to secure a goods vehicle, the owner or hirer also becomes jointly and severally liable for the imposed penalty, often meaning that the haulage or transport company is left liable for significant fines. 

A notice of object can be made against an imposed clandestine entrant or failure to secure a goods vehicle civil penalty. The reasons for the objection must be served on the Home Office before the end of the prescribed 28-day objection period. 

There are a number of reasons upon which an objection can be made. The matters relating to each case should be considered in line with the code of practice in place at the time of the incident. 

You can often be eligible for a reduction in the civil penalty amount. This requires an assessment of the circumstances relating to the particulars of the case and the preventative security measures which were in place at the time. There is also a level of means testing in place to take into consideration the size of the business and its ability to pay any imposed penalty.

An appeal against an imposed civil penalty can be made whether or not you have lodged a formal objection. Any liable party is entitled to appeal to a County Court and this must be lodged within 28 days of the imposed penalty or, if you have objected, within 28 days of the objection decision notice. 

Any appeal will be considered by the County Court in line with the relevant codes of practice, legislation and any other matters which it deems relevant. 

There is a Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme operated by the UK Border Force. This scheme is for organisations who consistently comply with and maintain high levels of vehicle security and can evidence that they do so. 

Membership of this scheme can significantly reduce the risk of clandestine entry and reduce any imposed penalty. This scheme has been relaunched recently, so any new applications will be decided under the updated civil penalty accreditation scheme.

The Home Office do have powers to detain or impound vehicles and such vehicles may only be released upon payment of outstanding civil penalty fines.  

We can help transport companies and hauliers to establish effective systems and procedures to minimise the risk of receiving an imposed civil penalty. Unsecured goods vehicles and clandestine entry are daily risks for those crossing the UK border, but with the right measures in place companies can ensure any risk is mitigated. 

With over 20 years of relevant immigration experience we are able to provide expert advice and support in relation to both clandestine entrant and unsecured vehicle civil penalties. 

We have successfully challenged over £4 million in immigration civil penalties. 

We can carry out a review of your current systems and procedures and check that these are compliant with the Home Office code of practice. 

We can help develop new systems which may offer more robust protection and ultimately prevent any unsecured goods vehicles. 

We can help you gain accreditation with the UK Border Force Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme.

Contact us now for a FREE consultation.

Whatever your situation, it pays to get expert support at the earliest opportunity.