Business tax – guidance

Export Control System (ECS): supporting guidance

Understand how the European system for control of indirect exports operates in the UK

Export Control System (ECS)

ECS is the EU system for the control of indirect exports, such as export consignments that are declared for export at a location in one Member State but exit the EU via another Member State. Read more in Notice 275 Export procedures.

ECS electronic messaging

ECS works alongside the existing UK Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system to pass messages between Member States.

You still need other export control documents.

Office of Exit

The Office of Exit ensures that the goods have left the EU and advises the Office of Export. If the Office of Exit is in the UK, an ‘exit results’ message (IE518) is sent to the office of export.

Office of Export

The Office of Export ensures that all goods are recorded electronically, risk assessed and the appropriate information is sent to the Office of Exit. Where the Office of Export is in the UK, a ‘goods are on their way’ message (IE501) is sent to the Office of Exit.

EORI number

An EORI number is assigned by a customs authority in a MS to economic operators (businesses) or persons. It is used in all communications with EU customs.

 Safety and Security (S&S) data

The Office of Export must conduct a risk analysis on each export and where necessary, it will stop export movements. In other cases the results of the analysis will be sent to the Office of Exit in the IE501 ‘goods are on their way’ message.

Fiscal (SAD) data and Safety & Security data are input into one ‘combined’ declaration in the UK. For exports, you will not be able to submit a fiscal only declaration and a separate Export summary declaration.

Movement Reference Number (MRN)

An MRN reference is generated by CHIEF for each direct or indirect export declaration. It is used to identify the consignment within the EU and at the Office of Exit.

For indirect exports the MRN (and bar code) should be included on a paper copy of the Export Accompanying Document (EAD) which accompanies the goods to the Office of Exit.

Authorised Economic Operator

Traders who want to apply to become a Authorised Economic Operator, can read more information in Notice 117.


An EAD includes a bar code of consignment information, including the MRN and declared Office of Exit (box 29). This travels with the goods to the Office of Exit for control purposes.

For specimens and printing specifications and guidelines for the EAD form see the explanatory notes part 1 and part 2

Exit Summary Declaration (EXS)

An EXS or ‘pure’ Safety and Security declaration is only required if goods are not covered by a CHIEF export declaration containing Safety and Security data. For example, where an empty container is being returned under a transport contract to the shipper. Submit an EXS at the Office of Exit. See also Notice 275 Export procedures.

Operating Single Transport Contract (STC) and ECS

Exporters (or their agents) need to ‘claim’ STC on their export declaration. In the UK this is done by inserting an AI (Additional Information) code ‘STC99’ in box 44 of the combined declaration and leaving box 29 (Office of Exit) blank.

Exporters (or their declarants) need to confirm with their freight forwarders or ocean carriers whether their goods travel under STC arrangements so that STC can be claimed on the export declaration. See Notice 275 Export procedures.

Claiming STC

When STC is claimed on an indirect export, the MS of export operates as both Office of Export and Office of Exit for the consignment. For goods being declared in the UK and leaving via another MS, an IE501 ‘goods are on their way’ message will not be sent to Office of Exit in the MS concerned.

Some MSs may wish to check that the goods are legitimately travelling under STC (if goods will pass through a MS by road on their way to the ‘actual’ point of exit from the EU).

Any consignments carried under STC should have the MRN available for inspection by Customs officers at the actual point of Exit in another MS.

ECS and Transit procedures and T5s.

If it is known that an export will move under the Transit procedure, Additional Information (AI) code ‘TRANS’ should be entered in Box 44 of the CHIEF export entry see Tariff Volume 3, Appendix C9. When clearance or P2P (Permission to Progress) has been received from CHIEF, the export MRN should be entered in box 40/44 of the New Computerised Transit System declaration.

If goods travel by a transit procedure, the Transit Accompanying Document will need to travel with the goods, not the Export Accompanying Document. Full details of the export to transit process can be found in Customs Information paper 09 (14).


UK Technical Specification