Guidance

Check how to move goods through ports that use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service

If you're a trader, haulier or carrier and use a UK port using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, find out what you need to do to get goods through customs.

You need to create a goods movement reference if you’re moving through a border location using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service.

This is a new requirement at ports using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service. You will not be able to move goods without a goods movement reference and you may face delays at the port.

This service brings together multiple declaration reference numbers into a single goods movement reference. This is to speed up the clearance of goods through customs.

You may need to create a goods movement reference for the following journeys:

  • goods from the EU to Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) – a goods movement reference is only required if you’re moving goods under the Common Transit Convention using a Transit Accompanying Document
  • goods from Great Britain to the EU – a goods movement reference is currently not required in any circumstances
  • goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – a goods movement reference is required for all movements into Northern Ireland ports using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service
  • goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain – a goods movement reference is only required in the following circumstances:
    • Common Transit Convention movements
    • TIR and ATA Carnet movements
    • movements from the Republic of Ireland to Great Britain through a Northern Ireland port
    • movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain under a customs special procedure or on a list of goods where specific international processes apply

If your movement type is not listed, you do not need to create a goods movement reference even if travelling through a port using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service.

These rules will change on 1 January 2022.

If you’re a trader

If you’re a trader sending goods, you must:

  1. Check if the port where the goods are arriving is using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service because you need to pre-lodge declarations.

  2. Before the goods arrive at the departure port you must give the haulier your movement reference numbers from any safety and security declarations, import or export declaration, TIR and ATA Carnet numbers.
    Alternatively you must give your EORI number if you’re approved to make an entry in your own records.

  3. If your goods are travelling under the Common Transit Convention, you must give the haulier all relevant Transit Accompanying Documents, as well as the movement reference numbers for any safety and security declarations.
    A single vehicle may be carrying more than one transit movement. You must give the haulier a Transit Accompanying Document for each movement and a movement reference number for each safety and security declaration.

If you’re a haulier

If your business has been hired by someone to move goods, you must:

  1. Check if the ports where the goods are moving from and to are using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service.

  2. Register for the Goods Vehicle Movement Service if you’re a haulier.

  3. Get a goods movement reference.

  4. You must follow instructions about whether you need to get your goods checked by customs on arrival or if you’re able to continue your journey. If a check is required, you will receive a message advising this and you will need to report to Border Force.

If you’re a carrier

If you’re transporting a vehicle for a haulier, you must:

  1. Check if the port where the goods are arriving is using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service.

  2. Get access to the carrier application platform interface (API).

  3. Check if a goods movement reference is valid.

Published 8 December 2020
Last updated 4 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. More information about when you need a goods movement reference has been added.

  2. Information about when you need a goods reference number and what to do if you're a trader sending goods that are travelling under Common Transit Convention has been updated.

  3. Information about if you're a haulier using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service has been updated.

  4. First published.

  1. Step 1 Apply for operator licences and permits

    1. Check if you need a vehicle operator licence
    2. Apply for a vehicle operator licence

    You'll need other licences and permits, depending on the countries you're driving to or through.

    1. Check which licences and permits you need
  2. Step 2 Register and get approval for your vehicle

    You may need to register your trailer to drive through or to the EU if it weighs over 750kg.

    1. Register your trailer to take it abroad

    You’ll need to get specialist vehicle approvals to transport any of the following:

  3. Step 3 Make sure your driver is eligible to drive abroad

  4. Step 4 Check the rules for the goods you're carrying

    1. Find out what you need to do if you're exporting your own goods

    There are rules for transporting certain goods. Your driver may need to follow set routes or stop at specific check points. Check the rules for:

    1. Find out what you need to apply for if you’re moving goods temporarily out of the UK

    If you're transporting goods outside the EU they must have been cleared by customs (given ‘permission to progress’). The exporter can tell you if this has happened.

  5. Step 5 Make sure your driver has the right export documents

    Your driver will need copies of:

    • any export licences
    • the road consignment note (‘CMR note’)
    • the Movement Reference Number (MRN) from the export declaration - if you're moving goods out of the EU
    • the MRN and the Local Reference Number (LRN) - if you're moving goods under the Common Transit convention (CTC)
    • the ATA Carnet document - if you're moving goods out of the EU temporarily
    • the TiR Carnet document - if you’re moving goods in a sealed load compartment with a seal number

    The exporter should be able to give all of these to you.

    You'll also need to have a customs seal approval certificate for the vehicle if you’re moving goods in a sealed load compartment. You'll get this when your vehicle passes the TiR test.

    You may need to use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) to move goods through some ports.

    1. You are currently viewing: Check how to move goods through ports that use the GVMS
  6. Step 6 Find out what vehicle documents your driver needs to carry

  7. Step 7 Check you are ready for the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel or Holyhead

    You may need to attend an inland border facility if you're leaving from the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel or Holyhead.

    1. Check whether you need to attend an inland border facility
  8. Step 8 Check local road rules

    1. Check the road rules for European countries on the AA website
    2. Check travel advice for countries outside Europe

    When you have your documents, insurance and any extra equipment you need, you can transport goods abroad.