Waste: import and export

The controls that apply if you ship waste into or out of the UK.

Applies to England

The regulations apply from the point of loading the waste until it has been fully recovered or disposed of at the destination facility. If you do not follow the regulations you may be committing a criminal offence and risk prosecution, financial penalties and imprisonment.

The controls that apply to your waste shipment will depend on the:

  • treatment planned for the waste when it reaches its destination
  • country of destination and the transport route
  • waste type

Knowing this information will allow you to decide if your waste shipment:

  • is prohibited
  • requires notification and consent from the competent authorities concerned before you ship (also known as notification controls)
  • can occur under Article 18 controls (also known as green list controls) – this is a lower form of control than notification, and mainly applies to shipping non-hazardous waste

Different controls may apply to non-hazardous waste plastic from 1 January 2021. Read the guidance importing and exporting waste plastic to check.

It is your responsibility to classify your waste correctly and ship it under the correct controls. Check with the other countries involved in your shipment that your decision is correct. Consider getting independent legal advice.

International waste shipments (IWS) or transfrontier shipments of waste are other terms for importing and exporting waste – they mean the same thing.

If you produce, carry, import, keep or dispose of waste you have responsibilities. You have a legal duty of care to make sure your waste is handled safely. Only pass it to people who are authorised to receive it.

Everyone involved in the shipment must ensure that any waste is managed in an environmentally sound way that does not endanger human health.

Waste shipment controls

Follow these steps to work out the controls that apply to your waste shipment and what forms you need to complete.

1. Is it waste?

You must first find out if the material you will import or export is classed as waste by any country involved in the journey. If so, then waste shipment controls apply to the whole journey. To help you decide if your material is waste, see:

You must then work out if the intended journey and destination for your waste is legal. All imports or exports of waste to or from Great Britain are governed by the ‘relevant regulations’. Where we refer to ‘relevant regulations’ in this guidance we mean the retained Waste Shipments Regulation EC No 1013/2006 as amended by the:

  • International Waste Shipments (Amendment)(EU Exit) Regulations 2019
  • International Waste Shipments (Amendment of Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006) Regulations 2020

Waste importers and exporters must check, each time they intend to ship waste, for any amendments to these regulations after 1 January 2021.

Wherever you ship waste, you must comply with the requirements of the relevant regulations and the import controls of any countries. This includes all the countries through which the waste will pass or dock during shipment.

See list of:

Where the competent authorities disagree on whether something is waste, it will be classed as waste.

If you are shipping waste to or from the EU, you must get to know the guidelines for customs controls on transboundary shipments of waste.

2. Disposal or recovery

The terms ‘disposal’ and ‘recovery’ are defined in the EU Waste Framework Directive.

Importing and exporting waste for recovery is possible, depending on country controls, waste type and destination.

Imports or exports of waste for disposal are prohibited, except for a few exceptions described in the UK plan for waste shipments. In these exceptions notification controls will always apply.

3. Classify your waste

You must match your waste to one of the description codes listed in the annexes to the relevant regulations. You may find it easier to use the consolidated waste list which has all the annexes in one document.

You must include the correct code in any forms you complete for shipping your waste. If there is no Basel or OECD code for your waste, you must describe it as ‘not listed’.

Read the rules for importing and exporting waste plastic.

4. Import or export controls

You ship your waste under Article 18 controls, notification controls or prohibition. You must confirm you meet the controls of the destination country with their competent authority.

Recovery in EU member states

Article 18 controls generally apply to waste listed under a single entry in Annex III, IIIB or the mixtures of wastes listed in Annex IIIA.

Notification controls apply to all other wastes.

Recovery in OECD countries outside the EU

Article 18 controls generally apply to waste listed under a single entry in Annex III or the mixtures of wastes listed in Annex IIIA.

Notification controls apply to all other wastes.

Recovery in non-OECD countries outside the EU

Certain wastes listed in Annex V are prohibited from export, including hazardous waste and household waste. Check the EU (green list) regulations which set out the controls that apply to waste listed in Annex III and IIIA according to each non-OECD country.

If you export wastes such as packaging, batteries, end-of-life vehicles or waste electrical and electronic equipment, there are additional producer responsibility regulations which you may need to comply with.

You should now know if your waste shipment is subject to Article 18, notification controls or prohibition.

Check the waste export controls tool

You can use the waste export controls tool to work out the correct code and control for your shipment. Be aware that it is a guide only. Before shipping always check the controls with the transit and destination countries or their government departments, customs inspectorates or official waste regulatory bodies.

Apply for import or export notification controls

You must:

To export from England, you must:

  • be under the jurisdiction of England or Wales
  • apply to and obtain consent from the Environment Agency and importing competent authorities

You must also be one of the following:

  • the original waste producer
  • the licensed new producer
  • a licensed collector of waste
  • a registered dealer or broker with written authorisation from a producer or licensed collector to move their waste
  • the holder of the waste when all the above are unknown or insolvent

For exports from England: use IWS online

1. Complete a notification application online

IWS online will enable you to:

  • complete your notification application
  • see the status of your notification
  • create a new notification based on a previous one
  • create pre-notifications
  • record shipment data
  • upload your movement documents
  • see a summary of your shipment data

When you use the system for the first time you will need to register for a user account.

You can phone the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506 (see call charges) if you need help.

You cannot use this system for recording Annex VII forms.

2. Interim operations

Pre-processing or storing waste at a site overseas before moving it to a place of final recovery is called an ‘interim operation’. The relevant regulations specify 5 interim operations using these codes:

  • R12 - exchange of wastes
  • R13 - accumulation of wastes
  • D13 - blending or mixing of wastes
  • D14 - repackaging of wastes
  • D15 - storage of wastes

R is recovery, D is disposal.

If your waste is destined for an interim operation, on your notification document you must provide details of the waste treatment operation and where it will take place. You must complete the movement form before your waste moves.

3. Financial guarantee or insurance

This makes sure there is enough money available for the Environment Agency to deal with the waste if the shipment is not completed. This includes the cost of returning the exported waste. The approved guarantee or insurance must be sufficient to cover:

  • transporting the waste
  • waste recovery or disposal
  • storage for up to 90 days

Any competent authority may ask for a copy of your financial guarantee or insurance arrangements. For notified shipments EU authorities may ask for a second financial guarantee or insurance. Contact the destination authority for their requirements before you submit your notification to the Environment Agency.

For exports from England and all non-EU imports, your financial guarantee or equivalent insurance must be approved by the Environment Agency. Use the financial guarantee form to apply. Your financial guarantee must be approved before shipments can begin.

You must provide a service of claims address for the financial institution you use for financial guarantees for export notifications. From 1 April 2021, the financial institution you use must be registered in England or Wales.

The financial guarantee must be valid for:

  • 3 years for standard notifications
  • 5 years for 3 year pre-consent notifications

4. Contract

Before you submit your notification application you must have a legally enforceable, written contract with the business that will be recovering or disposing of your notified waste.

This contract must include:

  • a certificate from the business recovering or disposing of the waste, confirming they have legally recovered or disposed of the waste
  • an obligation for the notifier to take the waste back if the shipment, recovery or disposal does not go ahead as planned, or if the shipment is illegal
  • an obligation for the importer (consignee) to recover or dispose of the waste if it is found to be illegal as a result of the consignee’s action

There are additional contractual obligations for exports to certain countries and also where an interim operation is to occur.

The Environment Agency, or any other competent authority with an interest in the notification, may ask for a copy of the contract.

5. Third party insurance

You need this in place before you send in your notification application. Any competent authority concerned may ask for a copy of the insurance arrangements.

6. Pay the charge

You need to pay a charge when you make your notification. The Environment Agency will not process your notification without evidence that you have paid the correct amount. Other competent authorities may also impose a charge for considering your notification.

The charge depends on:

  • whether the waste is being imported or exported
  • the purpose of the shipment – whether it is for recovery or disposal
  • the band the number of shipments included in the notification falls into

Charges for notifications of international waste shipments

Activity 1 shipment 2 to 5 shipments 6 to 20 shipments 21 to 100 shipments 101 to 500 shipments 501 or more shipments
Export for recovery £1,450 £1,450 £2,700 £4,070 £7,920 £14,380
Export for non-interim disposal £1,540 £1,540 £3,330 £5,500 £10,600 £19,500
Export for interim disposal £1,700 £1,700 £3,330 £6,000 £12,900 £24,000
Import for non-interim recovery £1,250 £1,250 £2,700 £4,900 £10,600 £19,500
Import for interim recovery £1,450 £1,450 £2,830 £5,500 £12,900 £24,000
Import for non-interim disposal £1,540 £1,540 £3,330 £5,500 £10,600 £19,500
Import for interim disposal £1,700 £1,700 £3,330 £6,000 £12,900 £24,000

Charges are payable to the Environment Agency.

7. Send your application

You must email your originally signed notification package to the Environment Agency. You must include all of the following:

  • signed notification form
  • movement form (not signed at this stage)
  • annexes
  • proof of payment
  • contract
  • any other documents relevant to your shipment

Email your notification package to:

Please pay the correct fee by electronic transfer.

If you are moving waste between Great Britain and the EU you must complete the notification form with details of the customs office of:

  • entry into the EU
  • exit from the EU, if relevant

Some EU member states require waste shipments to enter or exit through a designated customs office. Therefore you need to check the list of designated customs offices in EU member states.

8. Application assessment

If your notification package is complete, within 3 working days of receiving it, the Environment Agency will:

  • assess your submission
  • send it to all competent authorities involved

If your notification package is incomplete and you need to provide more information, our assessment will take longer. We will give you a reason if the assessment will take longer than usual.

If you do not hear from the Environment Agency within 30 days of submitting a complete notification, email

9. Competent authority of destination reviews the notification package

The competent authority must check they have all the information they need within 3 days of receiving the notification package. They may ask for more details, or ask to see copies of documents such as contracts.

Other competent authorities involved in your waste’s journey will also receive a copy of your notification package and may ask for more information.

Once the competent authority of destination is satisfied that the notification package is complete, they have 3 working days to complete block 19 of the notification document. They will send a copy of this to you and all the competent authorities involved.

10. Notification decision

Within 30 days of the competent authority of destination confirming it has completed block 19, it must decide if it:

  • consents to the notification without conditions
  • consents to the notification with conditions
  • objects

Any of the competent authorities involved may object. Great Britain authorities will only object using reasons set out in Articles 11 and 12 of the relevant regulations.

The competent authorities will send you copies of their decisions. If competent authorities of transit countries make no response within 30 days, you may receive written consent to ship the waste.

For movements that involve a non-EU, non-OECD or a European Free Trade Association country the consent or tacit consent statutory timescales may be longer. We will tell you if this is the case.

Notification controls: how to comply

Exporting waste from England

Your consent allows you up to 12 months from the date of consent to ship your waste. You can only ship the type and quantity of waste described in the notification, using the destination and route described in your notification.

If the destination site has pre-consent status, your consent may allow you up to 3 years to ship your waste.

Before the waste moves

  1. Check you have all the consents you need from the competent authorities involved and your financial guarantee is approved and valid.

  2. Create a pre-notification on IWS online – print and sign it then upload it to IWS online.

  3. Send copies to the other competent authorities and the destination waste facility, but not more than 30 days before you intend to ship and no later than 3 working days before shipping.

  4. Check the carriers you intend to use are registered and permitted to carry your waste shipment in each country.

You do not need to send the Environment Agency a copy of your pre-notification if you have uploaded it to IWS online, but you will need to ensure the pre-notification document is completed before the start of the shipment (blocks 2, 5 to 8).

You must complete a movement document and keep a copy for every shipment made under the consented notification. A shipment (which may consist of more than one vehicle or container) starts at the place of loading and continues until the waste is fully recovered at the destination facility.

When the waste moves

A copy of the completed movement document and the consented notification document, including annexes, must go with the waste and stay with it throughout the journey.

If waste is moving between Great Britain and the EU, waste carriers must, when asked, provide a copy of the movement form to the customs office of entry into the EU.

If waste is entering or exiting the EU through a German customs office, you must always provide a copy of the movement form to customs officials.

You must add shipment data to IWS online upon receipt and then upon the recovery or disposal of the waste.

Rejected waste

If the waste has left England but is then rejected by another competent authority, it may need to be brought back or transported to a different site for recovery or disposal. You must comply with the requirements of the competent authority concerned.

It may be necessary to use your financial guarantee to ensure the waste is recovered in an environmentally sound manner.

If the notified waste shipment does not go ahead

If the shipment cannot proceed within 10 working days of the actual date of shipment specified in block 6 of the movement document, the Environment Agency will consider that shipment ‘cancelled’. Other competent authorities may have different rules on when a shipment is cancelled. You must tell all the competent authorities involved.

Once cancelled you cannot change the shipment date or reuse the shipment number.

Increase the number of waste shipments

Before you can request an increase in the shipments permitted on a notification, you must:

  • send the written request to the Environment Agency before any extra shipments take place
  • get written consent for your extra shipments from all the competent authorities involved
  • not exceed the maximum tonnage detailed in block 5 of your notification document

You may need to pay extra – check the charges table.

Get a refund on a notification charge

You may request a refund from the Environment Agency if:

  • your notification is objected to
  • you withdraw your notification before it is consented to
  • none of the waste under your notification is shipped

We will refund your charge minus the minimum charge for the type of notification. The minimum charge is the amount for your activity for one shipment, as shown in the charges table.

You must apply for a refund within 12 months of the notification’s date of consent. If consent has not yet expired, it will no longer be valid. You cannot move waste on a notification once you have received a refund.

Apply for a new notification

You may do this before your existing consent expires.

Importing waste

Before you arrange to import any waste you should contact the competent authority of the country of export. You will need to find out what their procedures and requirements are.

Receive notified waste: actions to take

For each shipment of waste that arrives, the recovery or disposal facility must complete block 18 of the movement form.

They must state:

  • if the shipment is for disposal or recovery
  • the date of receipt
  • whether they accept or reject the shipment
  • the quantity of waste in the shipment
  • the approximate date of recovery or disposal
  • the name and signature of someone at the destination facility with authority to confirm receipt of the waste

You must:

  • keep a copy of the completed movement document for at least 3 years from the date the shipment starts
  • send copies to the notifier and all competent authorities involved within 3 working days of receipt of the waste
  • pay the appropriate charge (the Environment Agency will contact you about this)

Reject the waste

If a shipment of waste arrives at your site in England without the notification and movement documents, or it cannot be completed in accordance with the documents, you must:

Recover or dispose of the waste: actions to take

You must treat the waste as specified in the notification document. You have one year from the date of receiving the waste to do this unless your environmental permit requires it to be done sooner.

Within 30 days of completing the treatment, the recovery or disposal facility must fill in block 19 of the movement form with the:

  • date of the waste’s recovery or disposal
  • name and signature of a person with authority to confirm the recovery or disposal
  • company stamp

You must:

  • keep a copy of the completed movement document for at least 3 years from the date the shipment starts
  • send copies to the notifier and all competent authorities involved

You will need to follow different actions where an interim operation occurs.

The notification expires

The notification expires when:

  • the competent authority receives signed copies of the movement documents for all shipments of waste made under the notification, confirming that all the waste has been recovered or disposed of
  • or, if earlier, the consent given by the competent authority reaches its expiry date

When all the waste has been correctly recovered or disposed of, you can ask the competent authority to release the financial guarantee.

You must keep all documents about the waste shipment and treatment for at least 3 years from the date the shipment starts.

If you operate a waste recovery site with a permit and regularly receive shipments of the same waste, you may benefit from having a pre-consent. The advantages are that:

  • there is no cost to apply
  • the notification process is quicker
  • consents may last up to 3 years, rather than the standard 12 months

Recovery facilities in England can apply using the pre-consent form.

Overseas recovery facilities must apply to the competent authority of the country in which they are located.

Import or export: Article 18 controls

Check your green list waste for contamination.

A waste which you may think is green list could need prior notification and consent. Or it may be prohibited if it is:

  • not properly sorted
  • mixed with a hazardous substance
  • mixed with another waste material which is more than a de minimis level of contamination and to an extent which prevents the recovery of the wastes in an ‘environmentally sound manner’, for example if glass, metals, plastic or wood are in a consignment of waste paper
  • contaminated by household or mixed municipal waste

Ship green list waste under Article 18 controls

You can export green list waste without permission from, or payment of fees to, the competent authorities of the countries involved in the shipment, unless more stringent controls are required by the importing country. It is your responsibility to check all the requirements that apply.

If you are exporting waste plastic you must follow the importing and exporting waste plastic guidance.

Before shipping the waste: checklist

  1. Confirm the waste will be handled in an environmentally sound way at all times – you must be able to show that the recovery facility operates to human health and environmental protection standards that are broadly equivalent to UK standards.

  2. Make sure that the Annex VII document is fully completed and sign it – it must travel with the waste at all times.

  3. Draw up a written contract between the person who arranges the shipment (exporter) and the importer (consignee) – the contract must ensure that if the shipment cannot be completed as planned, or is found to be illegal, the exporter will take the waste back or recover it in another way, and provide for its storage in the meantime.

Complete the Annex VII document: checklist

Contact details must be in full – include the contact name, company registered number if applicable, address, email and telephone number. Business confidentiality is not a reason for omitting these details.

The exporter in block 1 is the person who arranges the shipment and signs the declaration in block 12 to say that you have a contract in place. If you are a broker or dealer based in the EU, you must be registered with the Environment Agency, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency or Natural Resources Wales if you arrange waste shipments from Great Britain. If you are a broker or dealer based outside the EU, you must be registered and also have a personal or business address in the UK.

The importer or consignee in block 2 may be the recovery facility or a broker or dealer who is under the jurisdiction of the country of destination, and has legal control over the waste when it arrives there.

The recovery facility in block 7 must be the facility where the waste will be recovered. If the recovery operation is R12 or R13, you must also provide information about the facilities where further operations will take place.

The appropriate codes for block 8 can be found in Annex II of the EU Waste Framework Directive. If the recovery operation is R12 or R13, you must also provide information on further operations.

After the waste arrives: checklist

  1. The importer or consignee and (if different) the recovery facility must sign and complete the Annex VII form at blocks 13 and 14.

  2. Exporters, importers and consignees must keep copies of the forms for 3 years – competent authorities can ask to see them.

Published 13 March 2014
Last updated 12 October 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated the 'UK plan for waste shipments' link within section 2 on disposal or recovery so it goes to the latest policy information.

  2. Added links to the relevant guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  3. Updated the page: You must provide a service of claims address for the financial institution you use for financial guarantees for export notifications. From 1 April 2021, the financial institution you use must be registered in England or Wales.

  4. We've updated references to the relevant regulations. We have also added a link to our Waste export control spreadsheet - you can use the spreadsheet to check the waste code and the control for your shipment. We've linked to 'Importing and exporting waste plastic' guidance which takes effect from 1 January 2021. We've referred you to the Guidelines for customs controls and added text about checking if your shipment needs to go through a designated customs office in the EU.

  5. We have edited section '7. Send your application'. Please do not post us your originally signed notification package - our offices are closed for the time being. Instead, please email it to

  6. Updated to clarify the refund amount and explain the rules that apply to waste import and export now that we have left the EU.

  7. Updated waste movement form.

  8. We have provided a link to the International Waste Shipments (IWS) online service for export notification.

  9. Added new bullet to section 'Get a refund on a notification fee' if you withdraw your notification before it is consented to.

  10. Clearer instructions on how to complete forms as incorrect information will no longer be rectified by the Environment Agency and therefore returned.

  11. The waste export control tool has not yet been updated with the changes made by EC Regulation 733/2014.

  12. First published.