Moving goods to and from the EU through roll on roll off locations including Eurotunnel

Using roll on roll off locations or Eurotunnel to transport goods to or from the UK in the unlikely event that the UK exits the EU without a deal.


In the unlikely event that the UK exits the EU without a deal, from 11pm GMT on 29 March 2019, many UK businesses will need to apply the same processes to EU trade that apply when trading with the rest of the world.

However, if you only import or export goods with Ireland across the Northern Ireland–Ireland land border, you do not need to take any of the actions set out here. Instead, you can disregard it. We will write to you again with information about the arrangements for trading with Ireland as soon as we can.

Roll on roll off locations are locations where traders use vehicles to drive onto ferries or trains to transport their goods into or out of the UK.

In the unlikely event the UK exits the EU without a deal, from 29 March 2019 the:

  • UK will apply customs and excise rules and VAT to goods it gets from the EU in the way it does for the rest of the world
  • EU will apply customs and excise rules and VAT to goods it gets from the UK in the way it does for the rest of the world

Businesses and carriers using roll on roll off locations to transport goods between the UK and the EU will have to submit customs declarations and pay any Customs Duty, Excise Duty or VAT that is due.

We will be publishing further information in January 2019 specifically for the importers, exporters, carriers, and port operators who use roll on roll off locations mentioned above. This will include more information on how we will support continued trade fluidity at these locations.

HMRC has written to businesses setting out 3 things they should do as part of preparing for no deal. If you have not yet had the letter in the post you can read it here. You do not need to contact HMRC directly.

Traders - imports

In the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal then you will need to be ready to make customs declarations and follow other customs requirements on the goods you import.

If you are going through a roll on roll off listed location, where customs formalities cannot be completed on site, you’ll need to pre-lodge your customs declaration before checking onto the ferry or train on the EU side.

To ensure you are as prepared as possible, you’ll need to:

Haulage companies - imports

Haulage companies (or someone acting on their behalf) must submit safety and security information through an Entry Summary Declaration before the goods arrive in the UK:

  • for roll on roll off ports you must submit the declaration at least 2 hours before the goods are due to arrive in the UK
  • if the goods are being transported through the Channel Tunnel by Eurotunnel, you must submit the declaration at least 1 hour before check-in at Coquelles

You should carry either:

  • a master reference number as evidence that a full or simplified frontier customs declaration has been made
  • the EORI number of the importer if the importer has used the entry in the declarant’s records simplified procedure

The importer or their customs agent will give these to you.

Ferry operators and the Channel Tunnel operator - imports

If you’re a ferry operator or Channel Tunnel operator you must confirm with your customers that they’ve made the right customs declarations.

You can do this through your terms and conditions that your customers use when booking their transport.

You will need to show the booking as evidence to HMRC if we ask for it.

Goods that are accompanied

For goods that are accompanied (for example, where a haulier is used), the liability to submit an Entry Summary Declaration (also known as the Safety and Security Declaration) lies with the haulier in advance of the goods leaving the EU. There is no obligation for the ferry or Channel Tunnel operator to confirm that this declaration has been submitted.

Goods that are unaccompanied

Where goods are unaccompanied, for example goods on trailers or in containers, the ferry or rail freight operator is responsible for submitting the Entry Summary Declaration within the same time limits as accompanied goods. You must include the trailer or container number on the declaration.


If you’re exporting goods from the UK from a roll on roll off listed location to the EU you or your customs agent must complete an Exit Summary Declaration before the goods get to the port of departure. This is a combined declaration for customs and safety and security.

You must include the vehicle registration number of the vehicle you’re using to transport your goods on the declaration. Ask the company that’s exporting your goods for the number (usually a haulier).

You need this so that you can complete the Exit Summary Declaration in full.

If your goods are being transported unaccompanied on a trailer or in a container you must include the trailer or container number on your declaration.

Once you’ve submitted the Exit Summary Declaration, HMRC will send you a notification that either:

  • allows you to proceed
  • asks for additional documentation
  • asks you to make sure the haulier or driver transports the goods you want to export to a Designated Export Place (DEP) so that HMRC can make customs checks before we give you clearance

If you’re exporting high-risk goods, you must give HMRC a full departure message so that we can complete the export and account for any duty refund or discharge any liability.

You can do this by either:

  • submitting online forms to HMRC along with evidence of export
  • arranging for an appropriate third party intermediary to update HMRC IT systems

High-risk good are:

  • strategic goods that must have a licence or be examined
  • duty suspended goods
  • Excise Duty suspended goods (for example alcohol or goods covered by guarantee)

Further information

Find out how to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Published 4 December 2018