Guidance

Moving goods to and from the EU through roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel

Arrangements for importers or exporters, using roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel to transport goods between the EU and the UK in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Overview

In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 12 April 2019, many UK businesses will need to apply customs, VAT and excise processes to EU trade, similar to trading with the rest of the world now.

This guidance does not apply to moving goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Sign up for EU Exit email alerts to find out when new guidance about this is published.

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

When the UK leaves the EU, importers using these locations will have to submit customs declarations and pay any customs duty, excise duty or VAT that’s due. But traders can apply for HMRC’s temporary arrangements to make sure that you can carry on transporting goods and to make customs processes easier for you to complete.

Importing to the UK from the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal you’ll need to be ready to make customs declarations and follow other customs rules for the goods you import.

If you’re importing through a roll on roll off listed location, you cannot complete customs formalities when your goods arrive in the UK, so you’ll need to make your customs declaration before checking your goods onto the ferry or train on the EU side.

After the UK leaves the EU, importers or their representatives must make a customs declaration before checking the goods onto the ferry or train on the EU side.

You should submit your customs declaration no earlier than 21 days before your goods arrive at the EU departure port (or Eurotunnel).

The main customs form used in international trade is the Single Administrative Document. You can submit this electronically.

Check how to complete a customs declaration.

To be as prepared as possible, you’ll need to:

Making customs declarations before your goods leave the EU

There are different ways to make a customs declaration. You should decide which option works best for you, but you’ll need to make your declaration before you check-in.

You can register to use transitional simplified procedures to:

  • transport your goods into the UK without having to make a full customs declaration at the port
  • make a more detailed declaration later (a supplementary declaration)
  • defer paying your duty

Once you’re registered you’ll be able to make either:

  • a simplified frontier declaration (an electronic declaration submitted to HMRC)
  • an entry in your own records of when the goods cross the border

Both of these declarations ask for less information upfront compared to a full customs declaration.

If you’re importing goods on the transitional simplified procedures controlled goods list you’ll only be able to use a full declaration or a simplified frontier declaration.

Check guidance on other details required for the customs declaration.

You can change your customs declaration up until the point you check-in at the ferry or train at the departure port.

You may be asked to confirm that you’ve completed a declaration as part of the terms and conditions when booking your transport or at check-in.

You’ll get a unique master reference number (also known as a movement reference number or entry number) when you complete either a full customs declaration or a simplified frontier declaration.

You should confirm with your haulage company that you’ve made a customs declaration before departure by giving them either the:

  • master reference number (to show you’ve made a full or simplified frontier customs declaration)
  • your EORI number if you’ve made an entry in your own records

We may ask your haulier to show the master reference number or your EORI number to prove a declaration is in place.

When your goods arrive in the UK

For a temporary period, HMRC will allow most goods moving from the listed roll on roll off locations to leave the UK port or Eurotunnel terminal station before you’ve told us that the goods have arrived.

If you’ve submitted either a full declaration or a simplified frontier declaration, you must tell us as soon as possible when the goods arrive in the UK.

You tell us the goods have arrived by updating your declaration using your software application, or your agent can do this for you. You must do this no later than the end of the working day after the goods’ arrival in the UK.

If you’ve used an entry in your records, you must update your records to show the actual time the goods arrived in the UK. But you do not need to tell us about the arrival of the goods at roll on roll off locations.

For both the simplified frontier declaration and entry in your own records, you should submit a supplementary declaration (a more detailed declaration) by the fourth working day of the month after your goods’ arrival in the UK.

You’ll have until 4 October to submit your supplementary declaration if you’re using an entry in your own records (also known as the standard goods procedure) under the new transitional simplified procedures.

If you’re not VAT-registered or if you’ll have excise or customs duties to pay, you must have a duty deferment account to import goods using transitional simplified procedures.

Check what the tariffs will be to see whether you will need to pay customs duties on your goods

Importing excise goods from the EU into duty suspension

As well as making a customs declaration, you must enter the movement of duty-suspended excise goods between the place of importation and destination excise warehouse on the Excise Movement and Control System.

If you cannot make the entry before arrival in the UK, HMRC will allow you to make the entry by the end of the working day after the goods arrive in the UK. If this happens, you must enter both of the following on the import declaration:

  • the excise movement guarantee reference number in box 44, under the Additional Information statement ‘GRNTR’
  • the destination excise warehouse reference number under the Additional Information statement ‘GEN45’

This will be for a temporary period and we’ll tell you when this changes.

The receiving excise warehouse keeper must then complete the report of receipt once it’s entered to Excise Movement and Control System, no later than 5 working days after getting the goods.

If you do not enter the excise movement guarantee reference number on the import declaration, the goods will not be placed in duty suspension and they’ll be liable to forfeiture. You must also pay the excise duty.

Haulage companies - imports

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK will phase in the requirement for entry summary declarations (also known as safety and security declarations) on all goods arriving from the EU.

This means that for the first 6 months after the UK leaves the EU, you’ll not need to make entry summary declarations when importing goods from the EU.

After this transitional period, if you’re a carrier, you’ll be legally responsible for making sure that you make entry summary declarations before arrival to HMRC at the time specified by mode of transport.

The person carrying the goods will need to carry either:

  • a master reference number to show that you’ve made a full or simplified frontier customs declaration
  • the EORI number of the importer if the importer made an entry in their own records

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 have reasonable belief that your customers have made the customs declarations.

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

You’ll need to show the booking to HMRC if we ask for it.

Accompanied goods

For the first 6 months after the UK leaves the EU, you’ll not need to make entry summary declarations when importing goods from the EU.

After this transitional period, if you’re a carrier, you’ll be legally responsible for making sure that you make entry summary declarations before arrival to HMRC at the time specified by mode of transport.

Unaccompanied goods

For the first 6 months after the UK leaves the EU, you’ll not need to make entry summary declarations when importing goods from the EU.

After this transitional period, where your goods are unaccompanied (for example goods on trailers or in containers), the ferry operator will be responsible for submitting the entry summary declaration before the goods leave the EU. You must include the trailer or container number on the declaration.

Exporting

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 a combined safety and security and customs declaration before the goods get to the departure port. You’ll be able to do this using the National Export System.

If you do this yourself, you will need to enter the correct customs duty tariffs.

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 (usually a haulier) for the number.

You need this so that you can complete the combined export and safety and security 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.

To be prepared you’ll need to:

Once you’ve submitted the combined customs and safety and security 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 your goods to a designated export place or authorised premises, so that we can make customs checks before we give you clearance

HMRC usually examines goods at:

  • premises we’ve approved
  • a designated customs office

Check appendices 16A to B, D to H and J to L of the CDS tariff for a list of designated customs offices.

If HMRC has told you that you must make your goods available for examination, you should arrange for this at one of these locations. But HMRC may ask you to make you goods available for inspection at a specific location.

If you’re exporting excise duty-suspended 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

If you’re exporting UK Excise Duty-paid goods, to claim a refund of UK duty you must satisfy the conditions of drawback, where eligible excise goods have not been and will not be consumed in the UK. Goods must either be:

  • dispatched to another EU country
  • exported outside the EU
  • warehoused for export
  • destroyed

To claim for drawback, check that you’re eligible and that your goods are eligible goods.

You must complete a Notice of intention to claim drawback and send it to the drawback processing centre. You must also prepare any documentation you need to accompany the goods. For example, the export declaration on Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF).

You must make your goods and any accompanying documentation available for inspection and wait the minimum period of notice in case we decide to inspect. If you’re going to export the drawback goods, this is at least 2 clear business days’ notice between the day we get your form and the day you intend to export the goods.

When the notice of intention period ends you may export your goods as notified on your form. After you’ve exported your goods you can complete and submit your drawback claim form with supporting evidence.

The processing centre will then process your claim and make a decision about your claim.

Further information

Find out how to prepare if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Published 4 December 2018
Last updated 4 February 2019 + show all updates
  1. New information for importers, exporters, carriers, and port operators who use roll on roll off locations in the event that the UK exits the EU without a deal. This includes more information about how HMRC will support continued trade fluidity at these locations.
  2. First published.