Guidance

Create a goods movement reference

Get a goods movement reference to move goods through locations which use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service.

Use this service to get a goods movement reference after registering with the Goods Vehicle Movement Service.

You’ll not need to get a goods movement reference if you’re either:

What you’ll need

You need to check what is required to get a goods movement reference. You must enter a reference for all goods contained in a vehicle, trailer or container.

Goods from the EU to Great Britain

You will need:

  • a vehicle registration number if your movement is accompanied
  • the trailer number or container reference number if your movement is unaccompanied
  • reference numbers for Admission Temporaire or Temporary Admission (ATA) Carnet and Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) Carnet movements, if relevant
  • paper ATA or TIR carnets, for ATA or TIR Carnet movements — these must travel with the goods throughout the journey
  • an imports Movement Reference Number (MRN) if declared into the Customs Declaration Service
  • an EORI number, for goods where the trader is authorised to make declarations in their own records
  • for Common Transit Convention movements, either:
    • a MRN that will have been generated by the New Computerised Transit System (NCTS)
    • if NCTS is unavailable when the goods start their movement, a paper copy of the transit declaration (for example, the Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) or Single Administrative Document) that travels with the goods

You must not include associated import declaration references in the goods movement reference for goods moving under Common Transit Convention.

You can choose to include the safety and security import entry summary declaration MRN, but it is not mandatory.

Goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

You will need:

  • a vehicle registration number if your movement is accompanied
  • the trailer number or container reference number if your movement is unaccompanied
  • reference numbers for ATA and TIR Carnet movements, if relevant
  • paper ATA or TIR carnets, for ATA or TIR Carnet movements — these must travel with the goods throughout the journey
  • an imports MRN if declared into the Customs Declaration Service
  • an EORI number, for goods where the trader is authorised to make declarations in their own records
  • safety and security import entry summary declaration MRN
  • for Common Transit Convention movements, either:
    • a MRN that will have been generated by NCTS
    • a paper copy of the transit declaration (for example, the Transit Accompanying Document or Single Administrative Document) that travels with the goods if NCTS is unavailable when the goods start their movement

You must not include associated import declaration references in the goods movement reference for goods moving under Common Transit Convention.

Goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

You will need:

  • a vehicle registration number if your movement is accompanied
  • the trailer number or container reference number if your movement is unaccompanied
  • reference numbers for ATA and TIR Carnet movements, if relevant
  • paper ATA or TIR carnets, for ATA or TIR Carnet movements — these must travel with the goods throughout the journey
  • a combined customs and safety and security export declaration — Declaration Unique Consignment Reference (DUCR) declared into the Customs Declaration Service — find out the circumstances in which the combined customs and safety and security declaration applies
  • an Export Accompanying Document for an indirect export from Northern Ireland to Great Britain declared in Ireland
  • safety and security export summary declaration MRN for goods moving under transit using either a TAD, Transit Security Accompanying Document (TSAD) or TIR carnet
  • for Common Transit Convention movements, either:
    • a MRN that will have been generated by NCTS
    • a paper copy of the transit declaration (for example, the Transit Accompanying Document or Single Administrative Document) that travels with the goods, if NCTS is unavailable when the goods start their movement

Goods from Great Britain to the EU

You will need:

  • a vehicle registration number if your movement is accompanied
  • the trailer number or container reference number if your movement is unaccompanied
  • a goods movement reference with all the export declaration references, or you can choose to present a Master Unique Consignment Reference (MUCR) in writing at an office of departure, for moving goods out of Great Britain using transit
  • reference numbers for ATA and TIR Carnet movements, if relevant
  • paper ATA or TIR carnets, for ATA or TIR Carnet movements — these must travel with the goods throughout the journey
  • a combined customs and safety and security export declaration — DUCR declared into the Customs Declaration Service
  • a combined customs and safety and security export declaration — DUCR declared into CHIEF
  • safety and security exit summary declaration MRN (for goods moving under transit using either a TAD, TSAD or TIR carnet if there is no combined customs and safety and security export declaration available)
  • for Common Transit Convention movements, either:
    • a MRN that will have been generated by NCTS
    • a paper copy of the transit declaration (for example, the Transit Accompanying Document or Single Administrative Document) that travels with the goods, if NCTS is unavailable when the goods start their movement

What references your goods movement reference will need to include for goods sent from Great Britain to the EU

When you present a goods movement reference at an ‘arrived export’ location using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, the goods movement reference should include:

  • the DUCR, for any goods being exported that are not also declared to the transit procedure
  • all the DUCRs for moving goods out of Great Britain using transit — you could also present a MUCR in writing for these movements, if you are starting your movement at an office of departure
  • all the DUCRs for moving goods out of Great Britain using transit, if you are starting your movement as an authorised consignor and are either not moving the goods in accordance with these authorisations or they have not been physically presented at the relevant authorised premises:
    • Customs Supervised Export (CSE)
    • Designated Export Places (DEPs)
    • internal temporary storage facilities (ITSFs)
    • Export Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • the TAD MRN for moving goods out of Great Britain using transit, if you are starting your movement as an authorised consignor, are moving the goods in accordance with these authorisations and they are physically presented at the relevant authorised premises:
    • Customs Supervised Export (CSE)
    • Designated Export Places (DEPs)
    • internal temporary storage facilities (ITSFs)
    • Export Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • the DUCR, for any goods declared to the transit procedure that are covered by an Excise Movement Control System guarantee

If you’re a declarant or exporter that needs evidence of departure, you must tell the haulier to include all their DUCRs in the goods movement reference — even if the haulier is authorised to use a TAD MRN.

If the haulier is using a TAD MRN in the goods movement reference, they should work with you or your agent to make sure goods are presented at the authorised premises of the relevant authorisation holder before the goods can be exported.

When you present a goods movement reference at other locations as part of a pre-lodged export declaration using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, the goods movement reference should include the DUCR.

If you move goods under ATA carnet, TIR carnet or paper Single Administrative Document (SAD) declarations at Goods Vehicle Movement Service locations, you must make sure your ATA, TIR or SAD references are included in a goods movement reference before attending the port or inland border facility for endorsement of the documentation.

The movement of the goods could be delayed if you do not.

For excise goods, declarations submitted using the Customs Declaration Service must not use the TRANS code. The declaration should be completed by presenting the DUCR when the goods leave the UK.

For excise goods leaving Goods Vehicle Movement Service locations, the Declaration Unique Consignment Reference must be entered into a goods movement reference.

If you are a Customs Supervised Export (CSE) trader, you should use the customs declaration completion requirements for Great Britain to find out how to obtain a goods movement reference.

Getting a goods movement reference without needing to include declaration reference information

There are circumstances when you can get a goods movement reference without needing to include any declaration references.

When you declare goods orally or by conduct

You can declare certain goods orally or by conduct at the border. ‘By conduct’ means that when you arrive at a point of exit or entry for Great Britain, you can make a ‘declaration by conduct’ by:

  • walking through a customs control point (this can be a green channel signed ‘nothing to declare’) with the goods, if you’re an individual on foot
  • driving (or being driven) past a customs control point with the goods inside your vehicle, if you’re importing or exporting goods in a vehicle
  • continuing your onward journey, if there are no customs control points

You’ll need to get a goods movement reference if you’re moving an empty trailer or any other commercial goods that can be declared orally or by conduct for goods moved from:

  • Great Britain to Northern Ireland
  • the EU to Great Britain
  • Great Britain to the EU

You can do this by selecting either the ‘oral or by conduct declarations’ or ‘empty’ option within the Goods Vehicle Movement Service.

These types of declaration must only be used when appropriate and for goods applicable to oral and by conduct declarations.

If your goods do not meet these criteria, you must not use the oral or by conduct to create your goods movement reference. If you do your journey may be delayed and you may incur a penalty.

In some cases, you may need to complete a safety and security declaration, where you must indicate if your goods are moving under contract of carriage (the service will give more information on how to do this).

Not every port will accept declaring goods orally or by conduct. You should check with your carrier before moving the goods.

When you declare some postal items

If you’re a designated postal operator or an Extra-Territorial Office of Exchange, you can get a goods movement reference without needing to include declaration reference information for some items.

This applies to goods moving under Universal Postal Union rules with:

  • CN37, CN38 and CN41 movement documents
  • CN22 and CN23 item declaration forms

If the goods do not meet these criteria, you must not use postal options to create your goods movement reference. If you do your journey may be delayed and you may incur a penalty.

Moving qualifying goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain through Ireland 

You do not need an import declaration if you move qualifying goods from Northern Ireland through Ireland to reach Great Britain, unless you’re moving: 

  • excise goods 
  • endangered species 
  • goods related to Weapons of Mass Destruction (for example, fissionable material) 

When you create your goods movement reference, select the ‘oral or by conduct declaration or no declaration required’ option in the Goods Vehicle Movement Service. 

You or the person moving the goods will also need: 

  • evidence to show that the goods are eligible qualifying goods 
  • access to a travel document issued in the UK setting out the destination of the goods (to show that they are only passing through Ireland)

Get a goods movement reference

You’ll need the Government Gateway user ID and password you used when you registered for the Goods Vehicle Movement Service.

Start now

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What happens next

You need to present the goods movement reference at the port you’re leaving from. Contact the carrier at the port to find out how to do this.

The carrier will allow you to embark if the goods movement reference is valid.

You must include declaration references in the goods movement reference for all goods you are carrying.

You may receive a penalty if you import goods at locations where you need to make pre-lodgement, and they are moved without providing enough evidence that a declaration has been made.

You must follow instructions on if you need to get your goods checked by customs on arrival or if you’re able to continue your journey.

Bringing goods into the UK

You should use your goods MRN in the ‘check if you need to report for an inspection’ service to understand if your goods are held. If you’re arriving into the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel, you’ll need to attend an Inland Border Facility to have these checks carried out. For all other Goods Vehicle Movement Service locations, you must proceed to the inspection facility within or near the port if your goods are held.

In some cases you may also be stopped by Border Force officers within the port to have checks performed on your vehicle or load.

If this happens, you must still attend an inland border facility to complete customs functions if you have received instructions to do so.

The goods must be taken to an inland border facility directly and the goods must be in the same condition as they were at the time of importation.

You may be liable to a penalty of up to £2,500 if you do not follow HMRC instructions.

Taking goods out of the UK

Check which locations need an arrived export declaration.

Published 23 December 2020
Last updated 31 January 2024 + show all updates
  1. Information about moving qualifying goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain through Ireland has been added. Information about moving goods from Ireland to Great Britain has been removed.

  2. Translation added.

  3. Addition of Declaration Unique Consignment References and Transit Accompanying Document Movement Reference Numbers for Common Transit Convention movements to the list of what needs to be included in a goods movement reference for goods sent from Great Britain to the EU.

  4. Information about moving goods under Carnets, paper Single Administrative Document (SADs) has been updated to support an update to the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, and guidance about the Common Transit Convention has been updated to make it clear you should not add associated import declarations to a goods movements reference.

  5. Welsh translation added.

  6. What you'll need to get a goods movement reference for Common Transit Convention movements has been updated.

  7. For Common Transit Convention movements of goods from Great Britain to the EU, you will need a goods movement reference with all the export declaration references, or you can choose to present a Master Unique Consignment Reference in writing at an office of departure.

  8. Guidance about when you declare goods orally or by conduct has been updated.

  9. The requirements to get a goods movement reference from 1 January 2022 have been updated. This is because of changes to the goods vehicle movement service and the decision to temporarily extend staged customs controls for goods moving from Ireland and Northern Ireland (where applicable) to Great Britain.

  10. From 1 January 2022, haulier's will need to check if they need to report for an inspection if they are arriving a the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel or Holyhead. Guidance on how to do this has been added. Guidance has also been added about what you'll need to include from 1 January 2022 when you present a goods movement reference at an ‘arrived export’ location using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, and when you present a goods movement reference at other locations as part of a pre-lodged export declaration using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service.

  11. Definition of ‘declaration by conduct’ added.

  12. More information about what you’ll need to get your goods movement reference has been added.

  13. Information about what you'll need to get a goods movement reference has been updated.

  14. Welsh translation added.

  15. Information about what you'll need to get a goods movement reference has been updated.

  16. Information added about declaring goods orally or by conduct.

  17. Information has been added about needing a goods movement reference if you are moving an empty trailer.

  18. First published.