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Community transit (CT) is an EU customs procedure that allows non-community goods which duty has not been paid on to move from one point in the EU to another (including from one point to another in an individual member state). It’s also used for the movement of goods to, from or between the ‘special territories’ of the EU and between the EU and Andorra (Harmonised System chapter 25 to 97) or San Marino.
The ‘common’ transit procedure is used for the movement of goods between the EU and the other contracting parties to the Common Transit Convention (‘common transit countries’) or between the common transit countries.
The common transit countries are:
- the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein)
- Macedonia which became a Contracting Party on 1 July 2015
- Serbia which is due to become a contracting party on 1 December 2015
Each member state and common transit country has designated customs offices where movements under the community or common transit procedure must begin and end. These offices are called ‘offices of departure’ and ‘offices of destination’ respectively. Offices where goods may leave or enter the territory of the EU or a common transit country in the course of a CT movement are called ‘offices of transit’.
Any person acting as the principal of a transit movement must provide a guarantee to ensure payment of the customs duties and other charges if the CT requirements aren’t fulfilled.
The CT guarantee must be valid for all member states and any other countries (common transit countries, San Marino or Andorra) involved in the movement.
A guarantee is usually an acceptance by an independent party (usually a bank, insurance company or similar organisation) for liability, jointly and severally with the principal. Traders who meet special requirements may qualify for a guarantee waiver, avoiding the need for a guarantor.
CT declarations must be made electronically, using the New Computerised Transit System (NCTS), except for private travellers who carry goods in excess of their personal allowances who may make a manual CT declaration on the Single Administrative Document (SAD).
Simplified CT procedures are available for authorised traders. See full information about CT and common transit in the Transit Manual.
2. The law
Community transit has its legal basis in the Union Customs Code (EU Regulation 9523/2013) and it’s Implementing Provisions (EC Regulations 2015/2446 and 2015/2447).
The legal basis for the common transit procedure is the EC/EFTA Convention on a common transit procedure of 20 May 1987.
3. External and internal community transit: T1, T2, T2F
The external CT procedure (T1) is required for:
- non-community goods (that’s goods on which customs duties and other charges haven’t been paid)
- community goods which are subject to an EU measure involving their export to a third country, for example an export refund claim under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the goods are travelling to or through a common transit country under common transit
- goods in chapters 25 to 97 of the Harmonised System subject to a CAP export refund travelling to Andorra
The internal CT procedure (T2) is used for community goods when they’re:
- entering or travelling via a common transit country
- travelling to, from or via San Marino - although San Marino isn’t part of the community, a special customs union exists with the EU, but excludes goods of chapters 72 and 73 of the Harmonised System coming under the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community
- in chapters 25 to 97 of the Harmonised System and travelling to or from the Principality of Andorra - although Andorra isn’t part of the EU a special customs union exists with the EU for these goods
The internal CT procedure (T2F) is required for community goods when they’re travelling to, from or between the ‘special territories’ of the EU, except for direct movements between the UK and the Channel Islands, where simplified arrangements apply.
Special territories of the EU are:
• Aland Islands • Guadeloupe • Canary Islands • Martinique • Channel Islands • Mount Athos • French Guiana • Reunion
See community and non-community goods for a further explanation.
4. The New Computerised Transit System (NCTS)
The NCTS is a European-wide system, based upon electronic declaration and processing, designed to provide better management and control of CT. It’s used in all the EU member states, common transit countries and Andorra. Each country’s own NCTS processing system is connected, through a central domain in Brussels, to all of the other countries.
The NCTS relies on transit declarations being input electronically. The use of the NCTS is mandatory for all eligible transit declarations.
Traders can choose to submit transit declarations using:
- their own software
- the NCTS Web - a basic, web based, free to use service, suitable for low volume NCTS users
4.2 Transit Accompanying Document (TAD)
Although the NCTS is a largely paperless system, a covering document known as the TAD must accompany the goods during transit and be presented, together with the goods, at any office of transit en route and at the office of destination.
The TAD includes a unique Movement Reference Number (MRN) generated by the NCTS upon acceptance of the declaration. The MRN appears on the TAD in both a numerical format and as a barcode. The barcode allows automatic processing using barcode readers, at busy CT offices, most notably on borders between the EU and common transit countries, for example France or Switzerland.
For multi-item consignments, the TAD may be supplemented by a list of items (LoI), that’s an electronic ‘load list’. The LoI is an integral part of the electronic Transit Declaration.
We recommend that declarants print the TAD on green paper, to enable lorry drivers and others to recognise the document and to draw their attention to the need to present it with the goods to customs at the office of destination.
5. Community transit at departure
5.1 The NCTS ‘normal procedure’
This is the procedure used by traders who aren’t approved as authorised consignors. The goods must be presented at either:
- the office of departure
- a designated place approved and controlled by that office
The principal or their representative will lodge an electronic declaration (IE015) to the NCTS at the office of departure, by one of the following:
- email using the Electronic Data Capture Service (EDCS)
- Extensible Markup Language (XML)
- NCTS web portal, using the ‘normal’ procedure
The office of departure uses the NCTS to process and clear the movement and guarantee, and then inputs a ‘positive’ release of the goods to the system.
When released, an electronic message (IE029) is sent by the NCTS to the trader and the TAD is created. The TAD, together with any LoI will be automatically authenticated by the system, it can be printed either at the office of departure or where the declarant has a suitable printer, at the declarant’s premises.
Read more information about the NCTS normal procedure in the NCTS - information for the transit trader document.
5.2 The NCTS simplified procedure
NCTS simplified procedure is available to CT principals who are approved as authorised consignors. It allows authorised consignors to move goods under customs control from an authorised location specifically nominated in their authorisation conditions and recorded in the NCTS, (for example, the authorised consignor’s premises, a port or airport or other approved place such as a warehouse, Designated Export Place (DEP), Enhanced Remote Transit Shed (ERTS) or other temporary storage facility) without the need to present the goods and corresponding documents to the office of departure.
The authorised consignor must hold a valid and suitable comprehensive guarantee or guarantee waiver, these details must be recorded on the NCTS Guarantee Management System (GMS).
The authorised consignor lodges an electronic declaration (IE015) to the NCTS at the office of departure. Once accepted, the declaration allows the authorised consignor to benefit from time-out release to move the goods, provided that no control decision is taken by the office of departure. This may, depending on the conditions of authorisation, be outside the normal opening hours of the office of departure.
When released, an electronic release message (IE029) is sent by the NCTS to the:
- authorised consignor
Where appropriate, the list of items will be printed at the authorised consignor’s premises or authorised location.
Once the transit procedure has ended, and satisfactory control results have been received from the office of destination, the authorised consignor will be advised electronically, by a write-off notification message (IE045), of the discharge of the procedure.
Find out more about the NCTS simplified procedure in the Transit Manual Supplement.
5.3 Applying to use the NCTS simplified procedure
Applications for authorised consignor status can be made on form C1343 and then send to the address below:
HM Revenue and Customs
Telephone: 03000 575 982
6. Community transit at destination
6.1 Presentation of the goods and TAD
Goods arriving in the UK travelling under the full CT procedure will be accompanied by the TAD (or, under the fallback procedure, copies 4 and 5 of the SAD).
The full CT movement ends when the goods and the accompanying TAD (or SAD copies 4 and 5) are correctly presented at an approved office of destination within opening hours and within the time limit set by the office of departure.
This releases the CT principal and their guarantor from their obligations, therefore it’s vital that these documents are submitted to customs as soon as the goods arrive at the office of destination. A carrier or recipient of the goods who accepts them knowing that they’re moving under the community or common transit procedure is also responsible for the production of the TAD and the goods intact at the customs office of destination. Failure to observe this condition is an offence under Article 96 of Council Regulation (EEC) 2913/92.
Any unloading or other action taken without customs permission may also incur a customs debt (that’s, Customs Duty and any other applicable charges) through the unlawful removal of the goods from customs supervision - Article 203 of Council Regulation (EEC) 2913/92 refers.
Any person who delivers a TAD or NCTS fallback SAD to an office of destination or an authorised consignee may obtain a receipt, on form TC11 (UK Form C1129), certified by customs or the authorised consignee. The receipt acknowledges presentation of the CT document; it doesn’t constitute a discharge of the principal’s or guarantor’s liability.
Any person who delivers a TAD or NCTS fallback SAD to an office of destination or an authorised consignee may obtain a receipt, on form TC11 (UK Form No C1129), certified by customs or the authorised consignee. The receipt acknowledges presentation of the CT document; it doesn’t constitute a discharge of the principal’s or guarantor’s liability.
See CT at destination in the Transit Manual for more information.
6.2 The NCTS normal procedure - trader at destination connected to the NCTS
NCTS is the procedure used by traders who communicate electronically with the office of destination using the NCTS but aren’t approved as authorised consignees.
The NCTS trader must present the goods at the office of destination within the days and hours appointed for opening or at a designated sub-place approved and controlled by that office.
The NCTS trader advises the office of destination of the arrival of the goods by electronic message (IE007) to the NCTS.
The trader must subsequently present the TAD to the office of destination, within prescribed time limits.
The office of destination will:
- make a control decision following any control process
- resolve any discrepancy
- input control results to the NCTS
A release from transit message (IE025) will then be sent by the NCTS to the trader.
Find out more about information about the NCTS normal procedure in the NCTS - information for the transit trader document.
6.3 The NCTS normal procedure - trader at destination not connected to the NCTS
If goods moving under cover of an NCTS declaration are presented at an office of destination or an associated approved sub-place and the destination trader isn’t able to make an electronic arrival notification, then either:
- the TAD, together with any supplementary LoI, must immediately be physically presented to customs at the office of destination within the appointed opening days and hours of that office
- for goods presented at a customs-approved sub-place, an informal communication arrangement to immediately inform customs of the arrival of the goods should be agreed between the office of destination and the manager or operator (the original TAD must be forwarded and received at the office of destination within five working days of the arrival of the goods)
Customs at the office of destination will make control decisions and subsequently update the NCTS movement record with the control results as described in the section above, electronically discharging the movement.
Customs will notify the destination trader of the release of the goods from transit in accordance with local practice.
6.4 The NCTS simplified procedure
This is available to traders who are approved as authorised consignees. It allows authorised consignees to receive goods under the CT procedure at an authorised location specifically nominated in the approval and recorded in the NCTS, (for example, own premises, a port or airport or other approved place such as warehouse, ERTS or other temporary storage facility) without the need to present the goods and corresponding documents to the office of destination.
When the goods arrive at the approved premises, the authorised consignee must advise the office of destination of the arrival of the goods by electronic message (IE007) to the NCTS.
The NCTS will automatically send an electronic ‘unloading permission’ (IE043) message to the NCTS consignee upon expiry of a timer if it hasn’t been selected for control by the office of destination. The message also includes the Anticipated Arrival Record (AAR) data sent to the office of destination by the office of departure.
The authorised consignee must carry out the necessary check of the goods, against the AAR data (not the TAD) and subsequently respond with an electronic ‘unloading remarks’ message (EI044) to the NCTS. If this message is ‘satisfactory’, then the NCTS will automatically send an electronic ‘release from transit’ message (IE025) to the authorised consignee.
Automatic release will be inhibited if:
- unloading remarks aren’t satisfactory
- movement has been selected for control by the office of destination, prior to expiry of the timer
Following control and the resolution of any discrepancies, the office of destination will input destination control results to the NCTS and release the goods from transit. A release from transit message (IE025) will then be sent by the NCTS to the authorised consignee.
The authorised consignee must present the TAD or make it available to the office of destination according to agreed arrangements.
Applications for authorised consignor status should be made on form C1343 and sent to:
HM Revenue and Customs
Telephone: 03000 575 982
Find more information about the NCTS simplified procedure in the Transit Manual Supplement.
7. Completion of declarations under the NCTS
NCTS electronic messages - completion rules contains guidance that will assist you with the completion of the necessary electronic messages that must be sent to the NCTS system.
8. Use of the SAD as a community transit declaration
Although it’s mandatory in most circumstances for CT declarations to be made electronically using the NCTS the paper SAD may be used as a CT declaration in the following circumstances:
- by private travellers moving goods in excess of their allowances
- under the NCTS fallback procedure when the NCTS is unavailable
In cases where traders experience problems with their own or local systems, they should firstly contact their software supplier to try to effect a repair. If there’s still a need to use the paper fallback procedure, normal procedure traders and authorised consignors, who don’t have a fallback stamp, should present their paper declarations to the intended office of departure for authentication.
8.2 Boxes to be completed when the SAD is used as a CT declaration
In addition boxes 55 and 56 must be completed on copies 4 and 5 when transshipments or other incidents take place en route. A detailed description of how to complete these boxes is provided in Part IV of the European Commission Transit Manual.
8.3 Use of continuation sheets and loading lists
When community transit declarations are for multi-item consignments, additional items can be declared on SAD continuation sheets or as an alternative the additional items can be declared on loading lists. If it’s more convenient the first item of information may be entered on the continuation sheet in which case ‘as per attached’ should be entered in box 31 of the SAD.
When the consignment is a mixture of goods of more than one status, that is, T has been entered in box 1, then item 1 on the SAD (boxes 31 to 47) must be completed as follows:
- box 31 enter the status of attached loading lists or continuation sheets, for example, for a mixture of T1 and T2 goods
- T1-goods - sheet (or list) numbers to
- T2-goods - sheet (or list) numbers to
- boxes 32, 33, 35, 38 and 44 must be struck through
- remaining boxes are to be left blank
All the goods on a loading list or continuation sheet must be of the same status. If goods are of a mixed status, separate loading lists or continuation sheets must be used. The status must be indicated at the top of the loading list or in box 1 of the continuation sheet.
When loading lists are used and the goods are of the same status, boxes 15, 32, 33 and 35, and where appropriate, box 44 on the SAD must be struck through. Any remaining boxes for item 1 should be left blank.
Where continuation sheets or loading lists are used, box 31 of the transit declaration form may not be used to enter the marks, numbers, number and kind of packages or goods description. Instead, a reference to the serial number and the symbol of the different loading lists should be entered in box 31 of the transit declaration form.
8.4 Use of the SAD as a community status document
Find detailed guidance on completion of the SAD when used as evidence of status is given.
8.5 The SAD set
The SAD set consists of 8 copies but only copies 1, 4 and 5 are used for a CT declaration Single Administrative Document full 8 part set (C88 (1-8)).
The function of each copy is as follows:
- copy 1 (copy for the country of dispatch or export) - remains at the office of departure for the purposes of control and may also be used for other export purposes
- copy 4 (copy for the office of destination) is for customs in the member state of destination
- copy 5 (copy for return-CT) - used only for NCTS fallback purposes, is returned from the office of destination to customs in the member state of dispatch to provide evidence that the goods reached their destination intact
Certain boxes are shaded in green to indicate that they’re used for CT although not all these boxes are required to be completed in the UK.
Each set is printed on self-copying paper. However because some items of information can change while the goods are en route the set is treated so that those items don’t copy through. On arrival any missing information must be added before the document is signed by the importer or their authorised agent and presented to customs.
It’s important to understand that signing the form commits the principal to all the information declared on it. If any of this information is incorrect it must be amended and the amendments must be drawn to customs’ attention.
8.6 Completion of the boxes on the SAD under fallback procedures or by private travellers.
Detailed information about how to complete the boxes on a SAD used as a union transit declaration by travellers or under NCTS fallback procedures is provided in Part V of the Transit Manual.
9. Data checklist for transit and status declarations
|SAD box title||SAD box number||Transit only||Status only|
|Consignor or exporter||2||X||X|
|Items (not required after SAD H)||5||X||X|
|Packages (not required after SAD H)||6||X(2)||X|
|Country of dispatch or export||15||X|
|Country of destination||17||X|
|Country of destination code||17a|
|Identity of Means of Transport||18||X|
|Transport ID (1st Field)|
|SAD box title||SAD box number||Transit only||Status only|
|Inland mode transport||26|
|Place of loading (not required after SAD H)||27|
|Goods, packages description||31||X||X|
|Summary declaration or previous document (required after SAD H)||40||X(2)||X(2)|
|Additional item type||44||X(2)||X(2)|
|Intended offices of transit||51||X|
|Office of destination||53||X|
|Place, date signature and name of declarant or representative||54|
|Other incidents during carriage||56||(T)|
X = mandatory (will cause rejection of data if not entered)
O = optional
T = completion only required if applicable, during a transit movement
1 = completion only if the exporter is making the declaration
2 = complete only if appropriate
3 = complete only if required by EU Regulations