Importing SPS controlled goods that interact with ALVS

Find out how to make sure that data entered into the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) is matched correctly with the Automatic Licence Verification System (ALVS).

When submitting import declarations for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controlled goods, the document identifier entered in data element (DE) 2/3 must accurately reflect the format described in the following guidance.

This will ensure the Automatic Licence Verification System (ALVS) can find the Defra pre-notification submitted on the Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFs).

ALVS will then attempt to get a successful match on the:

  • net weight (DE 6/1) or number of live animals (DE 6/2)
  • commodity code (DE 6/14 and DE 6/15)

Defra pre-notifications submitted on IPAFFS

Although the CHED-PP ((Common Health Entry Document) for horticultural and plant related products) is available to use on IPAFFs, the corresponding document code C085 (CHED-PP) is not yet recognised in the Customs Declaration Service Tariff. Document codes N002 (conformity certificate) and document code N851 (phytosanitary certificate) should continue to be used on the customs declaration for these product types.

For fruit and vegetable and plants and plant-related products that have been pre-notified on a CHED-PP but declared on the customs declaration under document code N002 or document code N851, the document identifier in DE 2/3 should be GBCHDyyyy.nnnnnnn. Yyyy will be the year of the pre-notification followed by a dot and nnnnnnn will be the 7-digit CHED number generated by IPAFFs.

This document identifier format should also be used for:

  • live animals when using document code C640 (CHED-A)
  • products of animal origin when using document code N853 (CHED-P)
  • high-risk food not of animal origin when using document code C678 (CHED-D)

For document code C673 (IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) Catch certificate), the document identifier should be GBIUU.

For an IUU pre-notification submitted on IPAFFs, ALVS will use the supporting CHED-P for data matching and capture the IUU decision (IUU OK, IUU N/A or IUU HOLD) recorded by Port Health inspectors in Box 42 of the CHED-P Part II to supply the IUU decision.

Providing document codes in DE 2/3 that are not required by the Customs Declaration Service Tariff system

Customs Declaration Service Tariff validation will only accept any additional document codes if the documentary requirements for any ‘all countries’ Prohibition and Restriction measures relevant to the commodity code have been included.

Any additional ALVS document codes that have been declared in DE 2/3 that were not required by Tariff will be passed to ALVS and cause an X00 ‘no match’ message being generated if there is no supporting Defra pre-notification for the product type. 

For example, there are no requirements for N851 (Phytosanitary Control) within the Customs declaration for Green Bananas (Commodity Code 0803901900) or for Fresh Lemons (Commodity code 08055010 10). 

The only requirement is an N002 (Certificate of Conformity) as per the conditions outlined to satisfy the “HMI Conformity Certificate (fruit and veg) issued in UK” measure in the Online Trade Tariff commodity 0803901900 and commodity 0805501010.

Receipt of X00 ‘no match’ messages

If ALVS generates an X00 ‘no match’ message, the submitter of the Customs Declaration Service declaration or Defra pre-notification will need to correct the data element advised in the message as soon as possible to avoid further delay in customs clearance. If the error has been made on the IPAFFs pre-notification, you can either:

  • amend the existing pre-notification
  • delete the Defra pre-notification and submit a new pre-notification

If the error has been made on the Customs Declaration Service declaration you can amend the declaration to ensure the data is aligned. If the software you use for the Customs Declaration Service does not have an ‘amend’ function, you will need to cancel your Customs Declaration Service declaration and resubmit a new declaration with the correct data.

Once corrected, ALVS will re-run its data matching process and, if successful, will provide a decision notification to the Customs Declaration Service. If the mismatch is not corrected, ALVS is unable to return an inspection decision notification to the Customs Declaration Service. This means the customs declaration may be continually held on the Customs Declaration Service in a non-cleared state.

ALVS is unable to perform successful data matching where there are multiple customs declarations associated to multiple CHEDs. In a ‘many to many’ matching scenario, you will need to apply for a manual release by completing the relevant manual release form for Customs Declaration Service declarations.

For fish related imports, covered in chapters 3 and 16 of the Tariff, submitters of Defra pre-notifications should pre-notify on IPAFFs both:

  • the products of animal origin (POAO) CHED-P
  • the IUU Catch certificate

Failure to do so will result in a no match being generated for the absent IUU pre-notification.

Horticultural products that fall under General Marketing Standards (GMS) are randomly selected for inspection. The submitter of the customs declaration is notified by a specific GMS ‘no match’ message. Where selected for inspection, a GMS pre-notification will need to be made on IPAFFs and the corresponding customs declaration amended to include the CHED-PP details in DE 2/3 to enable ALVS to match successfully.

Further checks

Customs Declaration Service messaging services will notify the carrier where SPS consignments need to be taken to a designated Border Control Post (BCP) on arrival in the UK, for a physical examination.

Customs Declaration Service declarations containing SPS controlled goods will not automatically clear once ALVS has returned release decisions if there are other non-ALVS related checks that still need to be carried out, such as:

  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) checks
  • any outstanding accounting queries that need to be resolved

Customs Declaration Service messaging services will notify the submitter of the customs declaration if Customs or Border Force checks also need to be performed or other queries have been raised.

Published 1 December 2023
Last updated 9 April 2024 + show all updates
  1. Information for fish related imports has been updated to say that submitters of Defra pre-notifications should pre-notify the products of animal origin (POAO) CHED-P and the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) Catch certificate on the Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFs).

  2. Guidance has been removed on Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates from the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (PEACH) pre-notification. Further Information has been added on the data matching process and General Marketing Standards (GMS).

  3. The commodity code for green bananas is now 0803901900.

  4. First published.