How to register and use the Excise Movement and Control System

When you must use the Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS), and how to register and enrol.


Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS) is a UK and EU-wide computer system that’s used to record duty suspended movements of excise goods taking place within the UK and the EU.

EMCS captures and processes information about the movements online, validates the data entered and allows real time notification of the dispatch and receipt of duty suspended excise goods.

It allows the exchange of secure online messages containing specific consignment and movement information between UK and EU trading partners.

EMCS supports different types of movements to both Great Britain and Northern Ireland movements based on location, a GB or XI prefix will be allocated to your excise identifiers based on your location or the location of your warehouse.

If you’ve been approved by HMRC to receive or dispatch excise goods in duty suspension, you’ll need to use EMCS if the duty suspended goods are moving:

  • between Northern Ireland and an EU member state
  • only within the UK for Great Britain and Northern Ireland related movements (including exporting or sending goods from Great Britain to outside the UK)

This is unless the goods are energy products or the movement is one that meets the criteria for simplified procedures to be used instead.

Register and enrol

Before you can use EMCS you must first register for HMRC Online Services and enrol for EMCS.

You must register and enrol for EMCS even if you choose to use a commercial software package or in-house designed software to record any consignments of duty suspended excise goods you’ll be sending or receiving.

SEED Excise ID number

You’ll need to use your System for the Exchange of Excise Data (SEED) Excise ID number to enrol for EMCS.

When enrolling for EMCS, it’s important that the authorised person’s Excise ID is entered and not that of the actual premises.

If you’re classed as a warehousekeeper, you should enter your Excise ID beginning with either:

  • GBWK for a Great Britain registered business
  • XIWK for a Northern Ireland registered business

You’ll be classed as a warehousekeeper if you operate premises that are approved for the production or storage of excise goods.

Registered consignees and temporary registered consignees only apply to Northern Ireland businesses who should enter their Excise ID beginning with XI.

If you do not have a GBWK or XIWK SEED Excise ID

If you’re classed as a warehousekeeper and do not have a GBWK or XIWK SEED Excise ID, write to the National Registration Unit with the following details:

  • company name
  • your trading as name (if appropriate)
  • address including postcode
  • daytime telephone number
  • VAT number (if VAT registered)
  • approval or registration number (this will be on your approval letter or certificate of registration if you hold one)
  • details of your approval - for example, whether you’re a registered brewer, registered cider maker or licensed wine producer

Activation code

Once you’ve enrolled for EMCS you’ll be sent an activation code. If you lose your activation code within the 28 days, you can ask for a new one to be sent to you online.

If you do not activate the service within 28 days, you’ll need to enrol for the service again.

Setting up your organisation’s EMCS users

The first person from an organisation to register with HMRC online services is an administrator. As an administrator you have full access rights for managing the organisation’s online service account.

You can also add others as fellow administrators or as an assistant (with restricted access rights).

How to use EMCS

If you dispatch duty suspended excise goods using EMCS, as the consignor you’ll need to complete and submit a message known as an electronic administrative document (eAD) through EMCS before the movement takes place.

Once the detail entered on the eAD has been validated, EMCS generates a unique Administrative Reference Code (ARC) for that particular movement.

Movements from a Great Britain business will have a GB identifier within the ARC and Northern Ireland business will have an XI identifier within the ARC. Only movements with an XI identifier can be made to EU member states.

As the ARC is required to travel with the goods, you must provide the person accompanying the goods (for example, the driver of the vehicle transporting the goods) with a printed version of the eAD or any other commercial document on which the ARC is clearly stated.

If you receive duty suspended goods that are dispatched under EMCS procedures, you’ll need to access EMCS in order to receive notification about the expected consignment. Once the goods arrive, you should check the consignment against the eAD and then complete and submit a report of receipt through EMCS. If you discover shortages or surpluses on receipt, you should record this detail on the report of receipt. The report of receipt should be submitted through EMCS no later than 5 business days after the goods are received.

There is guidance available for completing an eAD for EMCS.

Further information

Using EMCS when duty suspended excise goods are being removed from or received into an excise warehouse.

EMCS for registered consignees.

EMCS for temporary registered consignees.

Fallback procedures when EMCS is not available.

Published 9 November 2009
Last updated 29 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. This page has been updated because the Brexit transition period has ended.

  2. First published.