Dangerous Goods Packaging

This page was last updated on 24th October 2023

Annual Fees FAQs

In October each year, registered holders of Dangerous Goods Packaging Certificates will receive an invoice for the continued holding of their approval(s) for 12 months commencing 1st January the following year.  Occasionally, due to changes of personnel or for other reasons, the invoice ends up in the hands of someone who is not fully aware of what it is for or the action that they are required to take.  This information sheet is intended to address some of the questions that are asked most frequently.

Q. Why has VCA sent me/my company an invoice for these Annual Fees?

A. Because you are the registered holder of one or more packaging design-type approvals which have been issued to you by us on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT).  The packaging approval is, in effect, a licence to mark and provide a particular type of packaging for the transport of regulated dangerous goods, and to identify it with a unique UN (United Nations) approval marking.

Q. Why do you charge Annual Fees?

A. Annual fees support the operation of the UK packaging certification scheme, which VCA runs on behalf of the DfT.  The scheme exists solely for the benefit of industry.

Q. Who sets the fees?

A. Fees are agreed annually between representatives of industry trade associations, the DfT and VCA, through the mechanism of the Packaging Scheme Review Committee. Any packaging manufacturer or user may seek representation on this committee through their recognised trade association.

Q. What does the fee consist of?

A. The Annual Fee is made up of two elements:

1. The address fee.  This is a set charge per customer address, payable in respect of each address at which certificates are held.

2. A fee for each certificate held at a registered address – a scale of discount is applied for larger numbers of certificates held at one address.

If your company operates from multiple sites, there is an advantage in having all your certificates registered at one address.

Q. What would happen if my company does not pay?

A. Annual fee invoices are issued in October and are due for payment by 31st December. If the annual fee has not been paid by the due date and you have not contacted us to cancel the packaging approval(s) (see below), it/they will be placed into suspension. In this condition, annual fees are still payable, but the approval(s) will cease to be valid for new production.  No further examples of the packaging may be manufactured or used until the approval has been returned to Active status. This will only happen when all outstanding fees have been received.

Should fees remain outstanding, we will cancel the certificate(s) and may take legal action for recovery of outstanding monies.  Note that if you seek further services from the Dangerous Goods Office while unpaid fees remain on the record, these must be paid before any more work can be undertaken.

Q. What do I do if I don’t want the packaging approval(s) any more?

A. If you are certain there will be no future need for production of the packaging covered by this approval, you may cancel it by writing to us and returning the certificate. We will then issue a credit note for all or part of the fee, as appropriate.  Once cancelled, the UN packaging marking will cease to be valid and it will be an offence under the carriage regulations to apply it to any packaging.  Please note, you may continue to use any packaging made and marked before approval cancellation (subject to other rules on condition, permitted lifespan etc.).

You should notify VCA of your intention to cancel before 1st January.  Failure to do so means that you will be liable for the fees in full; failure to pay this will be treated as unpaid fees as above.

We recommend that you save a copy of your email (or letter) cancelling the certificate, for proof in case of IT (or postal) failure.

Q. If I cancel my packaging approval, can I reinstate it at a later date?

A. No – subject to the ‘cooling off’ period noted in the covering letter with the invoice. If you think you might need it in the future, you should pay the fee to retain it on the active register.  If you cancel the approval, the packaging to which it relates will have to be re-tested before a new approval is issued, and this can be costly.

Q. I cannot pay the invoice unless VCA quotes our Purchase Order number.

A. In early October, we endeavoured to contact you to determine whether your company requires a PO number. This will be on the invoice if you provided one.  If you did not and now require one, you should raise one internally, or seek one from the invoice addressee (if this is not you).

Q. I/ my accounts section would prefer VCA to bill us using our company supplier portal.

A. Sorry, this isn’t possible. We have hundreds of sets of invoicing documentation to send out in a small window of time, and this necessitates a standardised approach. In addition, we contact you not just to issue an invoice, but to check that your contact details and certificate holdings are correct going forwards.  This means that in the first instance, the documentation should be seen by someone familiar with your company’s certificates.

Note, payment of periodic fees formed part of the agreement signed by someone in your company when the approval certificate was initially issued.  Should your company fail to pay on the grounds of the route the invoice has arrived with you, this will be handled as noted in previous paragraphs.

Q. The invoice only mentions fees for the coming year; but VCA is chasing us for previous years’ fees. Does the new invoice supersede the old one?

A. No. Each year’s fees stand on their own. You must still pay any outstanding fees for previous years, even after the next year’s invoice has arrived.

If you still have unanswered queries, please contact the VCA Dangerous Goods Office on 01372 226110 quoting the invoice number and approval reference(s).