Intrastat: technology and technicalities
Technical information to help you decide which method is most suitable for submitting your Intrastat Supplementary Declarations (SDs).
You must use one of the following electronic options for submitting your Intrastat SDs. They are:
- Intrastat SD Online (via the internet)
- Intrastat SD Electronic Data Interchange
- the online facility for amending previously submitted data
You can submit as many Intrastat SDs as you like each month. Submitting nil returns will prevent you from being contacted for missing declarations and timely, complete and accurate submissions will avoid costly penalty action.
This guide sets out the technical information you need to determine which method is most suitable for the scale and frequency of your trade in goods within the EU.
Intrastat SD options
Online and offline methods of submitting Intrastat SDs over the internet may be used by agents, traders and individual branches of larger companies who submit data independently from their head offices.
There are 3 methods of completion:
- an online form
- an offline option using a Comma Separated Variable (CSV) file
- EDI - Edifact file for Intrastat and EC Sales via email attachment
Eform and CSV File
You can access the application by your username and password provided by the Intrastat customer service desk once you have registered on the uktradeinfo website.
The online form is keyed straight onto the application and the CSV file is uploaded through the application. To help you make sure you don’t miss any data out or make any errors, the data is validated throughout the process. You can only send error-free files.
You can register online to submit your Intrastat SDs electronically.
If you already have your username and password, you can access the electronic SD live system.
Intrastat SD online form
The Intrastat SD online form is a good option for submitting a few lines of data.
It allows you to type your data directly onto the Arrival or Dispatch form.
The following fields have on-screen validation:
- delivery terms
- nature of transaction
- country to/country from
If you include invalid data, a pop-up box will appear giving the correct alternatives.
The following fields are validated during submission:
- commodity code
- net mass
- supplementary units
If you make an error on the form, an error screen will appear highlighting your mistakes. Please note, you can only transmit error-free files.
For added security, there is a 30 minute timeout restriction between your login and submission. This takes the form of a countdown timer, which alerts you 5 minutes and one minute before you are timed out. Pressing the submit button will give you another 30 minutes. It’s important to remember that if you are timed out, all your data will be lost and you will need to log back in and retype the material.
If you have a lot of data to submit, you may want to use the offline CSV option. This does not have a time-out facility and will allow you enough time to submit your data.
Access the electronic Intrastat SD live system (registration required).
Intrastat SD offline CSV file option
The offline option for submitting your Intrastat data is a CSV file. Each file can hold up to 20,000 lines of data.
On trader CSV files the:
- first line is header details
- second and subsequent lines are for data
On agent CSV files the:
- first line is agent header details
- second line is trader header details
- third and subsequent lines are for data
Below is an example of a trader CSV file when opened in Notepad:
There are 2 ways of preparing a CSV file. You can:
Submitting the file
You can upload prepared CSV files through the application. The data is checked throughout the processes, and errors are highlighted. You must correct errors before the file is uploaded again. You can only transmit error-free files.
For larger files, you can log off the system while staying connected to the internet to allow the processing to continue. When logging back in, you will see either the submission error screen or the submission confirm screen.
Intrastat CSV generator tool
A simple way of preparing a CSV file is to use the CSV generator tool, a pre-prepared Excel workbook that is available for download from the Intrastat Internet System.
The file includes the following worksheets:
- an introduction
- help files for trader and agents - download a help file and example of an Intrastat SD offline trader CSV file from the uktradeinfo website (PDF, 53K)
- trader Excel spreadsheet - download an example of an Intrastat SD offline trader CSV file from the uktradeinfo website (XLS, 14K)
- agent Excel spreadsheet - download an example of an Intrastat SD offline agent CSV file from the uktradeinfo website (XLS, 15K) - the agent CSV file has 2 header rows with subsequent lines for data
Preparing a file
Using the help file and the example worksheet, copy your data onto the example.
Saving a file
Having prepared your file, you may prefer to save it as an Excel file (XLS), then as a CSV file. Alternatively, you can save it as a CSV file (this is a save option in Excel). It is slightly easier to correct errors in an Excel file than a CSV file.
Submitting a CSV file
To upload a CSV file, you should first log on to the Intrastat application. Once in the main menu, click on the ‘CSV file upload’ button. Either enter the path and complete the file name (including .csv) of the CSV file you wish to submit in the input box, or use the ‘browse’ button to bring up a choose file dialogue box to locate and select the required CSV file. Once the file is selected, click the ‘submit’ button to upload the file.
Correcting errors on Intrastat Supplementary Declaration CSV files
Validation is done in 2 stages. Any errors on the header rows will generate a bad header screen. The data is then validated. Any errors found in the data will show on the submission error screen.
Error-free files will show on the confirm submission screen. To transmit the files, click the ‘confirm’ button. To abort the transmission, click the ‘cancel’ button.
Validation on large files may take time. As long as you are connected to the internet you can log out and log back in later. At this point, you will see either the confirm submission or the submission error screen.
Correcting errors on a CSV file
Errors will be highlighted 50 at a time. Correcting the CSV file in Excel is only slightly more complicated than on an ordinary Excel Spreadsheet. This is because a CSV file is saved in a scientific format and when opened in Excel, it drops leading zeros and reduces the width in some columns.
To correct the file, you will have to:
- widen the 2nd column. This will change 1.23+08 back to your VAT number
- return the leading zeros on the period number, date and commodity code
- correct the errors, resave the file and resubmit
The period number, data period number and commodity codes could lose the leading zeros.
To return the zeros, click on the cells and right click the mouse to generate the menu screen. Select ‘format cells’, and then in the number tab, click on custom. Under ‘type’, enter the number of zeros required, eg, 0000 for period and 00000000 for the commodity code. By clicking ‘OK’ the leading zeros will return or after selecting ‘format cells’ under Number click on ‘text’.
Using the Intrastat online amendment form
If, after submitting your Intrastat data, you discover an error or some information which is incorrect, you can correct the data using the online amendment form. Complete the online amendment return on the uktradeinfo website.
This form contains only the mandatory fields and is suitable for past or current periods of data.
You should complete the top line of the amendment form using the original line details that you have submitted.
Complete only the fields that need to be corrected on the second line and leave the already correct data fields blank.
No action is required on errors relating to the commodity code, value, country from/to, or goods declared in an incorrect period if both the following conditions are met. The:
- value of an error on a single data line does not exceed £5,000
- total value of all the errors on a single Intrastat SD does not exceed £50,000
Please ensure that the information listed below is entered on all the forms, using a separate form for each period and suite:
- VAT number
- company details
- agent VAT number (if applicable)
- period and suite
You can complete the amendment form for boxes 8 and/or 9 of the VAT return on the uktradeinfo website.
Using EDI/EDIFACT to submit Intrastat/EC Sales returns
To submit data electronically by email attachment or via the file must be converted into Electronic Data Interchange for Accounting, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT) format, which is a United Nations International Standard.
The Trade Interface Specification (TIS) documents have been prepared to cover all Single European Markets (SEM) and Simplified Procedures electronic data capture issues. They should allow you to design a system that will transmit data.
EDIFACT TIS documents and appendices
Read the Electronic Data Capture Service Electronic Data Interchange For Accounting Commerce and Transport that describes the general arrangement and scope for ATS EDIFACT TIS.
Read the Single European Market Declaration (SEMDEC) - Appendix A for Intra-EU trade statistics and VAT EC sales lists.
Read the EDCS Technical Interface Specification - Appendix F for Intra-community trade. INSTAT, Single European Market declaration for Intra-EU trade statistics only (the EU version is acceptable in all Member States).
Read the Statistical and VAT Reconciliation (SAVREC) message - Appendix G - the SAVREC message for use with SEMDEC or INSTAT for all Intra-EU trade statistics.
Submitting the files
You can transmit the EDIFACT files via email attachment. Full details are available in the technical specification.
Published: 11 September 2012
Updated: 1 September 2015
- Contact details regarding Intrastat have been updated.
- Contact details for Intrastat system added.
- text amended to remove reference to specific year
- First published.