Clandestine Entrants and Civil Penalties


If your organisation operates commercial vehicles abroad which enter the UK we can advise you of the risks regarding clandestine entrants. We are able to provide guidance to ensure that you meet all of the legal requirements and can assist in challenging civil penalties where possible.

What is a Clandestine Entrant? 

A clandestine entrant is a person who hides in or on a vehicle as it enters the UK, with intention of avoiding immigration controls in order to enter the UK illegally. 

If clandestine entrants are discovered in commercial vehicles, both the operator and driver face a civil penalty each of up to £2,000 per entrant. In cases of multiple entrants the penalties imposed can be devastating. The UK Border Force has the authority to impound vehicles if penalties are unpaid or unlikely to be paid.


Drivers and operators are able to rely on a defence to incurring a civil penalty if they can demonstrate the following:

  • They did not know, nor had reasonable grounds to suspect, that clandestine entrants were concealed in or on the vehicle
  • An effective system was in place to preventing the carrying of clandestine entrants
  • The system was being properly operated at the material time. 

If the defence is not available it is possible to challenge excessive penalties in the County Court. 

Our Services

We can assist your business in relation to the following:

  • Implementing effective systems to prevent the carriage of clandestine entrants
  • Representations against the liability and level of any civil penalties imposed 
  • Appeals to the County Court against the liability and level of any civil penalties imposed 
  • Applications for the UKBA's accreditation scheme

If you have received a requirement to attend an interview under caution with the police or DVSA, or for further information please contact our Motoring, Crime and Regulatory Team on 01279 755777. 

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