Sending goods to the EU through roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel

Find out what to do if you use roll on roll off locations or the Channel Tunnel to transport goods to the EU from the UK.

If you use roll on roll off locations to transport goods out of the UK, you’ll need to submit customs declarations and pay any Customs Duty, excise duty or VAT due.

Exporting from the UK to the EU

To be ready, you’ll need to:

Making a combined safety and security and customs declaration

If you’re exporting goods from the UK from a roll on roll off location to the EU, you or your customs agent will need to 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’ll need to enter the correct Customs Duty tariffs.

You’ll need to include the 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’ll need this so you can complete the combined export and safety and security declaration in full.

If you’re transporting unaccompanied goods on a trailer or in a container, you’ll need to include the trailer or container number on your declaration.

Once you’ve submitted the combined customs and safety and security declaration HMRC will send you a notification giving you a route 1, 2, 3 or 6. The meaning of each of those is:

  • Route 1: Documentary checks required – send a copy of the export entry and supporting documents by email to the National Clearance Hub and wait for permission to progress to be granted or for further instruction
  • Route 2: 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 – you must supply a copy of the export entry and supporting documents by email to the National Clearance Hub
  • Route 3: Post departure documentary check – send a copy of the export entry and supporting documents by email to the National Clearance Hub or post to:

HM Revenue and Customs
National Clearance Hub
Ralli Quays
3 Stanley Street
M60 9LA
United Kingdom

  • Route 6: Gives permission to progress to port

HMRC usually examines goods at:

  • premises we’ve approved
  • a designated customs office

Check the CHIEF freight location codes for a list of designated customs offices.

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

Exporting excise duty-suspended goods

If you’re exporting excise duty-suspended goods under an electronic administrative document (eAD) using Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS), 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 a third party intermediary to update HMRC IT systems

If you’re exporting excise goods using the Customs Supervised Export (CSE) simplification through a roll on roll off (RoRo) port, you do not need to submit a departure message, but must make sure adequate evidence of export is retained as specified in section 13.10 of Public Notice 197.

Exporting UK excise duty-paid goods

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

  • exported outside the UK
  • warehoused for export

To claim for drawback, you’ll need to check that you and your goods are eligible.

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

You’ll need to 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 full 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’ll be able to 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.

If the departure message is not manually made by the trader, after 15 days CHIEF will automatically assume that the goods have departed.

Published 4 December 2018
Last updated 20 January 2022 + show all updates
  1. CHIEF will no longer assume departure of goods at any roll on roll off ports after 5 days — CHIEF will now assume departure after 15 days at all locations.

  2. Information about what evidence to retain when exporting excise goods using the Customs Supervised Export (CSE) simplification through a roll on roll off (RoRo) port has been added.

  3. The 'Assumed Departure' section has been added.

  4. First published.

  1. Step 1 Check if you need to follow this process

    Follow these steps to get your goods for export through UK customs if you’re managing the process yourself.

    Getting customs clearance can be complicated. You can hire a transporter or customs agent to make the export declaration and get your goods through UK customs.

    1. Hire someone to deal with customs for you

    Your business and goods must be ready to export before you can get customs clearance.

    1. Find out about exporting goods from the UK
    1. Check if you need to make an export declaration
  2. Step 2 Set up your business for making export declarations

    You need an EORI number that starts with GB to export goods from England, Wales or Scotland.

    If you move goods to or from Northern Ireland you may need one that starts with XI.

    1. Get an EORI number

    Depending on where you're moving goods, you need to be registered on the right systems and have compatible software to make declarations.

    1. Check what systems and software you need to make declarations
  3. and Register to export plant products or controlled goods

  4. Step 3 Check if you can make the customs process quicker

    There are processes that can make clearing customs quicker and easier to manage if you have to make customs declarations regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if you can use Common Transit to move your goods more quickly
    3. Find out about getting Authorised Economic Operator status
  5. Step 4 Declare your goods for export

  6. Step 5 Get the goods across the UK border

    The goods must be taken to the port or UK border location named in the export declaration.

    At the border, you or your transporter will need:

    • the ‘master reference number’ from the export declaration
    • the invoice
    • any export licences or certificates needed

    Customs staff might check the goods before allowing them to cross the UK border.

    1. You are currently viewing: Find out about customs procedures if you're taking goods out of the UK by road
  7. Step 6 Get the goods released if they're held up at the UK border

    The goods may be held up at customs, for example if:

    • you do not have the right licences for the goods or business
    • they did not pass inspection
    • they've been combined with a shipment that has been held up

    If this happens you will be told why.

    1. Contact the National Clearance Hub to get help