UK Trade Tariff Volume 3 Customs Declaration Service Imports

Find information about how to complete and submit customs declarations using the Customs Declaration Service (CDS)


This version of the tariff gives instructions on how to submit declarations to the CDS service.

Importers must refer to the CHIEF Tariff for instructions on how to submit declarations that are appropriate to CHIEF. Consult the software provider, agent or representative you are using to identify if your declarations are being submitted using CDS or CHIEF. In addition, a declaration that has been pre-lodged or made to CHIEF must be arrived/ cancelled/ amended within CHIEF.

Declarations are usually required when exporting or importing goods to or from third countries, special fiscal territories, and countries with which the EU has formed a customs union.

When goods are imported into the EU, customs duty, VAT and excise duty, where it applies, is usually due when the goods are declared to free circulation and home use. However, where goods are entered to a special procedure (for example, Inward Processing) or where a duty relief exists, the customs import duties and other charges may be suspended for the time the goods are under that procedure, or relieved entirely as appropriate.

Declarations are also required when importing third country goods into the EU that are destined for special fiscal territories, another EU Member State, and countries with which the EU has formed a customs union. These declarations are for free circulation, but not home use, and incur customs duty, but not VAT or excise duty, which must be accounted for in the destination territory.

As well as the guidance in CDS Volume 3, Imports, importers and exporters must also read the appropriate section of the UK Trade Tariff that provides guidance that applies to the Commodity Code for the goods being imported or exported, Volume 2. Volume 2 will identify any restrictions that apply or specific details which must be declared for certain goods, in addition to the mandatory Data Element (DE) completion requirements and restrictions shown here. Volume 2 should be read along with the document codes appendix 5, Documents and other reference codes for DE 2/3.

Rules and legislation

The rules governing customs procedure applying to the introduction of goods to the UK from places outside the EU, from their arrival until they’re entered to free circulation or another customs procedure are prescribed in:

  • Regulation (EU) No. 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the Union Customs Code (UCC)
  • Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2447
  • Statutory Instrument 1991/2724; The Customs Controls on Importation of Goods Regulations 1991 as amended by:
    • Statutory Instrument 1992/3095 The Customs and Excise (Single Market etc.) Regulations 1992)
    • Statutory Instrument 1993/3014 (The Community Customs Code (Consequential Amendment of References) Regulations 1993)
  • Statutory Instrument 1995/1203 Customs Traders (Accounts and Records) regulations 1995
  • Statutory Instrument 2003/3113 Customs (Contravention of a relevant rule) regulations 2003 as amended by:
    • Statutory Instrument 2009/3164 The Customs (Contravention of a Relevant Rule) (Amendment) Regulations 2009
    • Statutory Instrument 2011/2534 The Customs (Contravention of a Relevant Rule) (Amendment) Regulations 2011
    • Statutory Instrument 2015/636 The Customs (Contravention of a Relevant Rule) (Amendment) Regulations 2015

This legislation set out the rules, procedures, documentation and data elements to be used for the importation of non-EU goods. There are penalties which may be applied where the legislation is not complied with.

Notification of presentation and arrival

When an importing ship or aircraft arrives at the place where goods are to be unloaded, the goods must be ‘presented’ to customs (in accordance with Article 139 of the UCC) by either the person:

  • who brought them into the EU
  • in whose name or on whose behalf they were brought in
  • who assumes responsibility for their onward carriage (this includes freight haulage companies, shipping and aircraft lines)

Goods may be presented by either:

  • using an approved computerised trade inventory system linked to customs
  • sending form C1600A to the designated customs office

Goods that have been moved under a transit procedure should be presented to customs under the rules that apply to that procedure.

All goods must be electronically presented immediately on arrival at the designated customs office approved by customs authorities.

Goods can only be ‘presented’ to customs when they’ve actually arrived at the place of unloading.

Goods presented to customs should not be removed from the place they’ve been presented without the permission of the customs authorities.

All goods following presentation are under customs supervision and may be subject to customs control and inspection.

Temporary Storage

Following presentation, the goods are deemed to be in Temporary Storage (TS) and a TS declaration is required.

The TS declaration can be through:

  • an approved computerised trade inventory system linked to customs
  • sending form C1600 to the designated customs office

Goods must be placed under a customs procedure or re-exported within 90 days of presentation. The goods are held in TS until entered to customs procedure and must be stored in an approved TS location.

However, if a customs declaration has been lodged prior to the arrival of the goods, the customs declaration may be used to notify arrival, presentation and request immediate entry to a customs procedure. This means that the following are not required:

  • notification of arrival
  • notification of presentation
  • TS declaration

If the customs declaration cannot be cleared, the goods must be placed in an approved TS location.

Release to a customs procedure

All non-Union goods intended to be placed under a customs procedure must be declared on a customs declaration. Goods must be placed under a customs procedure or re-exported within 90 days of presentation.

Goods may be placed under the following procedures:

  • Release for Free Circulation
  • Special Procedures (including transit, storage, specific use and processing)
  • (Re) Export

Goods which are placed under the EU transit procedure must be presented at the office of destination together with the Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) (or copies 4 and 5 of the Single Administrative Document (SAD) under the fallback procedure) to end the transit movement before they can be placed under another prescribed customs procedure.

An import declaration is only required for the following categories of goods on arrival in the UK:

  • goods from a non-EU country direct
  • goods from a non-EU country via another EU country which have not already been cleared into free circulation
  • goods from the Special Fiscal Territories of the EU, for example:
    • Channel Islands
    • French Overseas Departments of Martinique
    • Guadeloupe
    • Reunion and French Guiana
    • Canary Islands
    • Mount Athos
    • Vatican City
  • goods from countries with which the EU has formed a customs union, for example:
    • Andorra
    • San Marino
    • Turkey

A customs declaration may be lodged by any person who’s able to provide all the information that’s required for the application. That person will also be able to present those goods or to have them presented to customs. Where acceptance of a customs declaration imposes particular obligations on a specific person, that declaration will be lodged by that person or by their representative, such as the holder of the authorisation or procedure.

Additional information can be found under Import Control System and other import procedures.

Customs declarations must be submitted electronically to CDS, or using form C88.

Manual declarations will be processed by CHIEF during CDS Phase 1. Refer to the CHIEF Tariff. Further information will be provided on the implementation of the CDS manual declaration solution as this is developed by the Programme. Manual declarations will only be accepted in specific circumstances.


CDS will replace CHIEF, which currently processes declarations for the international movement of goods between the UK and non-EU countries.

HMRC will begin a phased launch of CDS in August 2018, with all declarations taking place on CDS from early 2019. CHIEF will continue to run for a time to aid the transition to CDS refer to the appropriate version of the UK Trade Tariff for CHIEF declarations.

If a trader imports or exports goods outside the EU, they or their agent will be using CHIEF to:

  • process declarations for goods entering and leaving the UK or EU through ports and airports
  • calculate and pay the correct duty and taxes
  • complete customs information electronically

Traders will still be able to do these things on CDS, but there will be differences. To use CDS you will need a Government Gateway user ID and password. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you use the service.

CDS will have new and existing services in one place. For example, traders will be able to:

  • view previous import and export data on pre-defined reports
  • check the tariff
  • apply for new authorisations and simplifications
  • check their duty deferment statement
  • find online help, including self-service tools, guides and checklists

To ensure declarations align with the World Customs Organisation Kyoto Convention, currently being in place in the UK through the UCC, the following additional information will be required:

  • declarations will require completion using data elements, split into 8 data groups, rather than box number
  • an audit trail of previous document IDs (MUCR, DUCR and MRN)
  • additional party types, such as the buyer and seller
  • possible additional commercial references or tracking numbers
  • levelling – change between ‘Header’ and ‘Item’ for some data items

To align UK customs data with international standards, there will also be changes to:

  • location of goods identification (based on UN/LOCODE)
  • the authorisation type code list
  • item tax lines, including method of payment codes
  • unit of quantity codes (ISO)
  • procedure codes, previously called Customs Procedure Codes, which will be split into 2 parts
  • the number of items on a declaration – CDS will allow a maximum of 999 items on a customs declaration

CDS registration and access

Registration to the HMRC online services follows the ROSM Principle – Register Once Subscribe Many. CDS uses this principle. It allows the end user to submit all their information once and subscribe to many services which will use this information, avoiding the user having to enter the same details multiple times for multiple subscriptions.

Registration Process (New Users)

- enter details – name, address, contacts
- submit proofs – Using File Upload Service
- business checks and validations
- confirmation
- 2SV
New users, who do not use any of HMRC online services including customs services, will follow this process.
In this process, they will have to create a login and submit all the required details along with the documentary proofs they will be asked for. After required due diligence they will be provided with confirmation and login details.
Subscription Process (Existing Users)
- sign-In with existing creds
- check existing data
- subscribe to service using existing data
For all existing users, they may have to create a user ID and password for CDS online services, if they do not already exist have one.
When signing in for the first time, they will be asked to provide some key identifiers like EORI, asked some known facts and they will be matched with their existing details held.
This ID and password will provide users with access to their information and status of their CDS activities.

API authorisation models

All HMRC APIs are REST APIs and follow the https protocol to connect to the HMRC API platform. HMRC aPI platform offers 2 modes of authorisation.

Application restricted endpoint User restricted endpoint
Request =
Accept – application/vnd.hmrc.1.0+json
Authorisation - ‘Bearer’+serverToken
Request =
Accept – application/vnd.hmrc.1.0+json
Authorisation - ‘Bearer’+accessToken

Details of both these authorisation models along with tutorials and sample codes are available on the HMRC developer hub.

Application restricted endpoints need a server token to successfully authenticate on the API Platform. This is passed in the Authorisation header with ‘Bearer’ type.

User restricted endpoints need user access token which is checked to return any data pertaining to the user.

User authorisation (OAuth2)

When a user uses an application to interact with HMRC APIs, they will have to authorise the application to interact with HMRC API and submit / receive data on behalf of the user.

  1. The user logs into the application Client REST server .
  2. The user is then asked by the application to authorise the application to act on their behalf .
  3. As part of the user authorisation process, the application asks the user to login (Login Page) and the client identifier is passed to the HMRC API platform for authentication and authorisation.
  4. On successful authorisation, the HMRC API Platform passes the authorisation code back to the calling application and this is stored by the application Client REST Server.
  5. The application Client REST Server sends this authorisation code to the API Platform to receive an access token for the User. 6.The API platform responds back with an access-token and refresh token (optional). This is stored by the application and is used by the application to make API calls on user restricted endpoints. 7.When the token expires, the user will have to re-authorise the application by following the above steps. If the user uses multiple applications, then they will have to authorise multiple applications.

Interaction with the API platform

Synchronous flow

  1. The end-user submits a message using the application. The end-user application authenticates, checks the submitted data and validates the message.
  2. The application submits the message to the API platform with the right authentication header to the API Platform.
  3. The API platform authenticates the requests and performs schema validation and assigns a conversation ID to the request.
  4. If there are any errors or authentication failure, an error response is sent back to the application along with a conversation ID in the message.
  5. If the request is authenticated and schema validated successfully, the request message is sent to the CDS backend and is persisted on the DMS queue.
  6. When the message is successfully persisted on the queue, a successful response is sent back to the end-user with conversation ID and success response codes.

Asynchronous flow

When the message is picked up from the queue, the payload will be parsed and checked for business rules. Asynchronous (async) updates for the submitted declaration will be sent at different stages of processing.

The first successful async update, will have declaration ID along with conversation ID. Conversation ID will link all the messages – synchronous and async – for a submitted message.

Push/Pull notifications

If the application has opted for ‘push’ notifications, the async responses will be sent to the registered URL. All the success and error responses will be sent via push notifications.

If the application opts to ‘poll’ for notifications, then async responses will be stored and on every poll request, responses will be sent. The request for polling will have the same header authorisation parameters as an API request.

Conversation ID

Conversation ID is a standard messaging pattern that is used by HMRC to identify and track transactions. The format used is the java specification for UUID – UUID v4 (RFC4122). This conversation ID will be sent in all response messages – error or success. This can be used as a reference to enquire about the status of the request or absence of notifications for a request.

Notifications – Push or Pull

All the consumers will have an option for ‘push’ or ‘pull’ notifications. It defaults to ‘pull’ if ‘push’ option is not chosen.

Push notification

Push notification will require the consumer to subscribe to push notification for APIs to which they want ‘push’ notifications to be sent to their systems.

The push notification will require.

  • a call back URL – this will be validated
  • a secure token – best practice guidance will be provided for selecting appropriate tokens - this is the token HMRC will use to send push notifications in header

Pull endpoint

The pull endpoint will be a static endpoint to poll for responses. The documentation will indicate the poll frequency for polling responses. There could be many messages in response to a single pull request for updates. There will be a maximum size of such messages and will be indicated in the API documentation. This is to make sure the response message size can be easily processed by the consumer network.

File upload process

File Upload API is used in multiple CDS functionalities:

  1. during new user registration to submit documentation proofs
  2. Submitting documentary evidence supporting the declaration submitted

The basic principle of file upload is similar to many internet-based applications – an identifier (name, unique reference) is required to identify the file being uploaded. The same principle is used for File Upload API.

In case of submitting documentary evidence for supporting the declaration, there can be 2 scenarios as shown.

Before submitting declaration After submitting declaration
Unique File Identifier = functional reference Id

file to be uploaded = standard file upload process similar to attachments
Unique File Identifier = unique declaration Id returned in message from CDS (preferred) OR functional reference Id

file to be uploaded = standard file upload process similar to attachments


Title Reference link
Correlation ID best practices IBM Knowledge Center Common message delivery patterns
dynatrace support and community
ORACLE Interoperability solutions for JMS and WebSphere MQ
Enterprise Integration Patterns: Message Construction
HMRC API developer hub RESTful APIs for building smarter tax software

Manual customs declarations

This method of declaration is known as customs input of entries (CIE). This service will continue to be provided by CHIEF in Phase1 of CDS: Refer to the CHIEF UK Trade Tariff. More details will be made available as this service is developed by the CDS Programme for Phase2.

The accuracy of information must be checked and any inaccuracies must be corrected. These corrections must be drawn to customs’ attention.

Where, because of declaration processing, it’s determined that customs will accept a declaration without the need for the presentation of the paper copy, the user identity used to lodge a declaration with CDS will replace the hand-written signature as the authentication credential for that declaration.

The CDS role identified by the user identity will determine the liability for all data transmitted in that declaration. In a paperless environment the user identity will have the same legal status as the hand-written signature on the paper declaration.

Individual liability will rest with the signatory within the company for the use of that credential (for instance, the user identity). If there’s to be a change of person who will act as signatory, this must be notified immediately to HMRC in writing, whereupon its records will be updated.

Authorised signatories

The declaration must be signed according to the following rules. If the importer is:

  • an individual, by that individual or an employee who has been authorised in writing
  • a partnership, by one of the partners, or one of their employees authorised in writing by a partner
  • a company incorporated in the UK under the Companies acts, by a director or the secretary, or an employee of the company authorised in writing by a director or the secretary
  • a corporation incorporated in the UK by statute, by a person authorised by law to sign for the corporation, or an employee of the corporation authorised in writing by such a person
  • a foreign firm or company, or a corporation incorporated abroad by statute, by a person authorised by the law of the country in which the firm or company, is established

Alternatively, the declaration can be signed on behalf of the importer by any firm, company or individual the importer has given authority to, to act as a declarant for customs purposes. The manner of authorisation is a matter of arrangement between importers and their declarant but, in giving authority to a declarant, the importer will be assumed to have given authority to the clerks and servants authorised by the agent to carry out all the importer’s customs business. Customs may at any time require evidence that a declarant has been authorised by an importer to sign declarations on the importer’s behalf.

Goods must not be removed from the place of importation or clearance without customs authority.

CDS import procedures (including customs warehouse removals - general requirements)

This following paragraphs provide detailed information on:

  • how to complete an import declaration
  • the additional documents which may have to be provided
  • the range of special import facilities available
  • special requirements relating to certain goods or the circumstances under which they are being imported

Completing import declarations

This part of the CDS Tariff explains what type of information should be declared against each data element (DE) on an import declaration. It should b read along with the notes for the specific procedure or treatment that the goods are being declared to in Appendix 1, Requested and previous procedure codes for DE 1/10.

These appendices will provide additional completion instructions for the specific codes being used.

Contact HMRC if you want to know how a specific declaration should be completed.

You must make sure you input your declaration correctly. Errors can lead to delayed clearance, penalties, seizure of the goods, or demands for immediate payment of any revenue relieved or suspended.

There are also penalties for making false declarations.

Appendix 21, Declaration category data sets provides a detailed breakdown of the specific data elements needed for each declaration category. There are tables in Appendix 21 for each declaration category type, for example H1 data set.

Certain procedures or treatments may need additional DEs to be completed depending on the circumstances. These tables also provide a cross reference from the new DE number to the previous SADH box reference.

The data set tables in Appendix 21 also say if the data element is mandatory in all cases, optional for the declarant or dependant on the circumstances being declared.

Presenting import supporting documents

The submission of paper based supporting documents will be phased out in CDS. Information will be provided when an online service is rolled out.

The existing CHIEF process should be followed in the meantime and import declarations (excluding certain CFSP and paperless Route 6 entries) must be sent to:

HM Revenue and Customs

Email: or

Non-Union goods must be entered to a customs procedure within 90 days of their presentation to customs on arrival in the Union.

Import declarations can be pre-entered up to 30 calendar days prior to the arrival of the vessel/goods in the EU. This period includes weekends and public holidays.

The paper copy of the import declaration and any supporting papers for those entries which importers or their agents, or both, believe will be allocated a Route 1, 2 or 3 can be pre-lodged with the NCH up to 5 calendar days prior to the arrival of the goods/ vessel. This includes weekends and public holidays.

Customs clearance is usually linked to the port or airport of importation but clearance facilities for goods transported in secure vehicles or containers are, with some exceptions, provided at an approved place or location for the presentation of goods on arrival.

When import declarations are accepted

Legal acceptance of a declaration submitted in advance of the goods’ arrival will only happen (under Article 172 of the UCC):

  • after the vehicle, vessel or aircraft has arrived at its intended place of discharge, or another place designated by customs
  • when the arrival and presentation of the goods in the Union has been notified to customs
  • if the declaration is valid, complies with the conditions necessary for the procedure and contains no apparent errors
  • if the goods will not be released to a customs procedure unless the customs duties and other charges have been paid or secured

Notice of arrival will generally be affected by the delivery of a manifest to customs showing details of all goods carried by the ship, aircraft or vehicle.

Note that until further notice, the submission of C27 forms will still be submitted via CHIEF. Refer to the CHIEF UK Trade Tariff for further information.

When imported goods are selected for examination (including removal to private premises for this purpose)

All imported goods are liable to be examined by customs. If goods are selected for examination, the opening, unpacking and repacking must usually be done by employees of the dock company or an agent of the importer.

The examination of goods usually happens at the place they’re being declared for importation. However, goods can be removed to private premises for examination subject to customs approval. For example, if they are dangerous or sensitive and need to be unpacked by people familiar with the risks involved. Customs retain the right to require goods to be examined at the place of importation.

Importers who want to have any goods that are selected for examination removed to private premises for this purpose should consult customs before the goods are imported. This is to prevent delay when the goods arrive. Notice 112A provides information about the charges that will be raised for the attendance of customs officers at private premises. It also gives instructions on how requests for attendances should be made.

Where the importer wants to waive their right to be present at examination of the goods, Additional Information Statement Code ‘CAP10’ should be declared in DE 2/2.

Paying customs duties and other charges

Customs duties and other charges that are due must be paid, deferred or secured before the goods are cleared by customs.

The deferred payment of customs duties and other charges is subject to the provision of adequate security and to other conditions. See Notice 101: deferring duty, VAT and other charges which also gives details of the Simplified Import VAT Accounting (SIVA) scheme which allows approved businesses to reduce the security requirement for deferred import VAT.

Note that under Phase 1 of CDS implementation (August 2018), one Method of Payment (MOP), deferment, can be used on a declaration.

Customs duties and other charges due for immediate payment are charged to an authorised trader through an account maintained in CDS. This accounting procedure is known as the Flexible Accounting System (FAS), referred to in the CDS Tariff as ‘Cash Account’. Goods will not be cleared from customs control unless the credit balance in the account is enough to cover all the charges due.

When the exact amount of duty or other charges payable cannot be assessed at the time the declaration is presented, clearance can usually be allowed on payment of a deposit or provision of security to cover that element of duty considered to be in dispute. This may be equal to the full duty amount or the difference between the actual and potential duty amounts. For non-VAT registered traders, the amount of VAT consequently in dispute must be secured.

For VAT registered traders, VAT is usually paid outright based on the value which includes the highest potential duty. This is regardless of whether this is secured by cash or cashless security. These traders also have the option to secure the disputed element of VAT.

The list of allowable Methods of Payment and the codes to be declared for each may be found in Appendix 9, Method of payment codes for DE 4/8.

Additional information

All cash deposits will be by Miscellaneous Cash Deposit.

Adjustment of the declaration will be carried out by either the National Temporary Admission Seat (NTAS), National Import Relief Unit (NIRU) or the NCH, depending on the reasons for securing (RFS) of charges. Further information on the RFS process will be provided as this is developed and delivered by the CDS programme.

Miscellaneous Cash Deposit (MCD)

MCDs are cash securities held in a suspense account by customs, pending confirmation of correct charges/eligibility for refund. Payment of an MCD may be deferred when it’s payable at the time of passing the declaration.

Form C&E955 or C&E955D, as appropriate, must accompany all MCD declarations. When codes M or N are inserted, a deposit slip (form C&E955) must be attached to the declaration. When code R is used, a deposit slip (form C&E955D) must be attached and declared under DE 2/3 Document Code 955D – See the Imports Data Element Completion rules and appendix 5, Documents and other reference codes for DE 2/3 for more details. Failure to attach forms C&E955 and C&E955D could result in a delay in any future repayment.

Security by guarantee

As an alternative to cash securities, importers have the option of securing charges by sending a guarantee from an approved bank or financial institution. These guarantees are available for one declaration only, (individual guarantee) or for several declarations (guarantee account or where a customs authorisation is held, the provision of a Customs Comprehensive Guarantee).

Individual Guarantee - Blank forms are available from NTAS. The approved guarantee must accompany the declaration.

Guarantee account - Blank guarantee forms are available from NTAS. Details of authorised users are required.

For blank forms, contact NTAS by telephone on 03000 579 0554.

The level of the guarantee is to be set to cover the maximum amount of security considered necessary. The guarantee level will be monitored by CHIEF. Processing of the declaration will be suspended if the guarantee level is insufficient.

Adjustment of MCDs and securities by guarantee - These are the conditions under which goods cleared by securing the revenue in dispute will be controlled by NTAS/NIDAC:

  • evidence of value at the time of presentation of the declaration is incomplete or unsatisfactory
  • an instruction authorising acceptance of a provisional value is in force
  • the goods are of a kind allowed to be entered for ‘official test’
  • admission is claimed under intra-EU or preference arrangements, but the evidence is incomplete or unsatisfactory
  • exemption is claimed from levy, but the evidence is incomplete or unsatisfactory
  • exemption is claimed from anti-dumping duty, but the evidence is incomplete or unsatisfactory
  • a quota rate is claimed but evidence is incomplete or unsatisfactory or quota critical procedure has been introduced
  • tariff classification is in dispute (note that this applies to genuine disputes and entries are not acceptable with security if the importer, or their authorised agent, has simply failed to determine and declare the tariff declaration)
  • specific directions have been issued by a customs headquarters branch allowing declaration by security

Bonds and undertaking

A bond is an instrument, under seal, by which the person entering into it bind themselves to pay to the Crown specified sums of money on breach of any of the terms mentioned.

Bonds should not be used for securing customs duties and similar EU import duties. This will also include Anti-Dumping Duty and all customs duties on agricultural goods. Alternative methods of security need to be used. Bonds are classified as follows:

  • ordinary bonds each covering a specific transaction
  • general bonds covering a number of transactions of a similar kind or relating to conditions which are likely to be observed for an indefinite period or during the continuance of a concession; or given by a parent company to cover transactions by that company and associated companies
  • premises bond covering both the premises and their contents
  • comprehensive bonds covering liabilities under both general and premises bonds

An undertaking is an official document, signed by an importer, or an authorised agent, by which they undertake to pay duty and any other charges due on goods imported under duty relief provisions, if there’s a breach of any of the conditions of the relief. Undertakings may also be made for the subsequent production of certain documents.

Reporting the diversion of imported goods to the NCH

Diversion of imported goods including part or split consignments, or both, from one location to another. Note that until further notice, the submission of C6 forms will still be submitted via CHIEF. Refer to the CHIEF UK Trade Tariff for more information.

Goods diverted to an inventory linked location

When goods are diverted to an inventory linked location, a form C21 or inventory linked C21 transaction via the CSP will be required. Further details of the inventory release process under CDS will be provided as the service is developed.

Examination of the goods by the consignee or declarant before a declaration is made

When a consignee or their declarant is unable to complete a declaration because they do not have enough information about the goods, they may ask customs at the place of presentation for permission to examine or sample the goods under their supervision.

Whenever sampling is requested (and in some other cases) a written application will be required, signed by the person making the request and providing:

  • the name and address of the applicant
  • the location of the goods
  • all other information necessary to identify the goods

Trader identification - Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI) number

The identity of a trader is a combination of the country code of the issuing country and the identity reference allocated by that country. For UK traders enter ‘GB’ followed by the trader’s EORI number.

In the UK, identities are EORI numbers which are (with a few minor exceptions) 12 characters long with a GB prefix. Note that new EORI numbers may not automatically follow the VAT number format.

Example EORI number is: GB123456789000

Additional information

Some government departments and agencies have been issued with special registration numbers.

Private individuals who are not registered for EORI should not enter any identification number on a declaration, Instead, the name and address of the private individual should be declared.

For commercial importations an EORI number must be used unless a specific legal exemption applies (Article 5 EU Reg No. 2015/2446). This applies to all commercial imports including one-off consignments.

For non-EU traders who do not require an EORI number, under Article 5 EU Reg No. 2015/2446, enter:

  • 00500 in DE 2/2 Additional information
  • 00500 in the Name section of DE 3/15 (Importer’s name and address) prefaced by the non-EU country code of the importer followed by their name
  • their address as usual in the remaining sections of DE 3/15

Applying for an EORI number

Apply for an EORI number.

EORI numbers do not apply to anyone importing or exporting in a non-business capacity. Some types of commercial activities are also exempt from the requirement to use an EORI number such as some Temporary Admissions.

Import VAT certificates (Form C79) will be issued under a different process under the CDS service and details will be provided as this function is developed.

In addition, certain goods need special treatment:

Motor vehicles - for private importations, goods classified under UK Trade Tariff chapters 8703 and 8711 should be entered using Additional procedure code DE 1/11 ‘1NV’ (‘means of transport permanently imported by private persons on payment of Customs Duty and VAT’).

Firearms - if you are importing firearms classified within the UK Trade Tariff chapter 93 that require a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) licence you should not enter these goods without an EORI, even if they are your own possessions or for private use. Licensing and Prohibition and Restriction requirements must be complied with, which includes the possession of an EORI number prior to issuing an import licence.

Racehorses - if privately owned and for non-business use, DE 3/16 can be left blank and the name and address should be entered in DE 3/15. If the horse is owned by a syndicate/other legal entity for business use, then an EORI number should be obtained and entered to DE 3/16.

Personal effects - for example personal possessions, holiday purchases, human remains – refer to the appropriate notes in Appendix 2, Additional procedure codes (Cxx Series) DE 1/11.

Plain paper declarations

Applications for approval to use plain paper declarations should be submitted at least one month before the facility is required, enclosing a plain paper declaration specimen and a removal note (if required) produced by the applicant’s terminal equipment for each of the plain paper versions of CDS declarations that the applicant intends to use.

Type Conditions
Paper All versions must be produced on A4 paper or continuous stationery perforated at A4 length, with a minimum weight of 55 grams per square metre. A tolerance of 1/2 inch wider or longer than A4, or both, is acceptable.

The paper size and quality will be acceptable if produced within reasonable manufacturer’s tolerances.
Printing All copies of the plain paper declaration must be clearly legible otherwise they may be rejected when lodged at the border. Paper should be properly aligned to avoid a page of the declaration overlapping the perforations. Any pages of the declaration which do overlap the perforation will be rejected by customs.
Declaration format The format must be in accordance with the appropriate official form. In particular the following features are required:

- each line should contain 10 characters to the inch and there should be 6 lines to the inch vertically

- the position and length of fields (including plain language fields) should conform

- DE numbers must be computer printed onto the plain paper and aligned as shown for easier identification

- DE numbers should be made easily distinguishable by printing the DE numbers in a type-size half that of the coded data, alternatively standard size box numbers may be printed but must then be underlined

- if the space provided for any of the DEs is insufficient, information should be continued on separate worksheets and DEs endorsed ‘see worksheet attached’ (as part of the software print program)
Data The:

- plain paper declaration should be printed following entry input to, and acceptance by CDS

- plain paper declaration as well as meeting requirements for plain language information, should also reproduce the data finally accepted by CDS taking into account any errors corrected following initial entry input

- MRN and date should be captured automatically from the CDS acceptance response and included in the plain paper declaration

Customs changes to printed declaration forms will require corresponding changes to plain paper declaration formats. This will require changes to traders’ plain paper declaration software programs at their own expense for implementation on the required date.

Import Control System (ICS)

Security and safety legislation relating to imports into the EU

The implementation of Security and Safety legislation is laid down in Commission Regulation 952/2013 (commonly known as the UCC). The DEs for ICS are in Annex 30A of Commission Regulation 2454/93 until Community IT systems are updated. Once EU IT systems are updated, unlikely to be before 2020, Annex B of Implementing Regulation 2015/2446/EU.

Import Control System (ICS)

ICS requires the electronic submission of an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) providing pre-arrival information to the customs authorities for all goods brought into the customs territory of the EU.

Responsibility for ensuring that ENSs are submitted lies with the ‘carrier’. The carrier is defined as the ‘operator of the active means of transport on or in which the goods are brought into the customs territory of the EU (for example the vessel, aircraft, train or road vehicle)’.

The ICS guidance outlines the processes carriers will need to follow when bringing goods into the EU via the UK.

ICS main principles

The ICS Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) should:

  • be submitted (within the deadlines set by the legislation) to the ICS electronic system of the member state where the first (air)port of entry into the EU is situated (the ‘Office of First Entry’ (OoFE))
  • include, in the specified format, the data elements of Annex 30A of Commission Regulation 2454/93 including information to identify:
    • the cargo
    • the traders involved in the movement
    • the vessel/aircraft
    • the envisaged route into and across the EU

It’s the carrier’s responsibility to ensure that an ENS is submitted for all goods on board the vessel/aircraft entering the Union even where they remain on board during the passage of the vessel/aircraft through the EU.

An ENS for cargo arriving in deep sea containers must be submitted before loading of the goods on the vessel in the third country. Information may have to be provided many weeks in advance of actual arrival of the cargo.

Time limits for lodging entry declarations

The time limits laid down in Article 105 to 110 of Commission Regulation 2015/2446 for all modes of transport are as follows:

  • containerised maritime cargo (except short sea containerised shipping) - at least 24 hours before commencement of loading of the vessel that brings the goods into the EU at the port of departure
  • bulk/break bulk maritime cargo (except short sea bulk/ break bulk shipping) - at least 4 hours before arrival at the first port in the EU
  • short sea shipping movements between:
    • Greenland
    • Faroe Islands
    • Ceuta
    • Melilla
    • Norway
    • Iceland
    • ports on the Baltic Sea
    • ports on the North Sea
    • ports on the Black Sea or ports on the Mediterranean
    • all ports of Morocco
    • the EU (except French overseas departments, Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands to which other rules apply) at least 2 hours before arrival at the first port in the EU

Movements between a territory outside the EU and French overseas departments, Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands where the duration is less than 24 hours - at least 2 hours before arrival at the first port in the EU:

  • short haul flights (less than 4 hours duration) - at least by the time of the actual take off of the aircraft
  • long haul flights (more than 4 hours duration) - at least 4 hours before arrival at the first airport in the EU
  • rail and inland waterways - at least 2 hours before arrival at the customs OoFE in the EU
  • road traffic - at least 1 hour before arrival at the customs OoFE in the EU

Movement Reference Number (MRN) - inclusion on CDS Import Declaration

The MRN number is automatically generated by the ICS System and allocated to each ENS after successful validation, acceptance and registration. Importers or agents should include the information in DE 2/1 of the CDS declaration. Used where an alternative previous Doc reference is not appropriate. Refer to Appendix 3, Previous document codes DE2/1 and use code 355 for the Entry Summary Declaration (ENS).

ICS risk assessment

All information submitted to ICS will be assessed against a set of common EU risk criteria and any positive risks identified at the first (air)port of entry into the EU will be passed on to subsequent (air)ports in other member states (Offices of Subsequent Entry (OoSE)).

Where positive risk results are detected, Border Force (BF) will assess whether to intervene. This may mean issuing a ‘Do Not Load’ message (for maritime deep-sea cargo sector only), intercepting the goods on arrival in the UK, or forwarding, or both, the positive risk results to customs administration(s) in subsequent identified (air)port(s) in the EU.

The ICS arrival notification

Where the UK is either an OoFE or an OoSE, the lead carrier, should arrange for the electronic submission of an ICS ‘Arrival Notification’ to the UK ICS system when the means of transport carrying the goods reaches the UK.

The existing process for (air)port/inventory arrivals by inventory systems for legal presentation and CDS declaration purposes will not change. The ICS Arrival Notification is in addition to this. However, some inventory systems may include this additional functionality within existing processing - carriers should contact their EC Systems Provider for information on whether this functionality is available. At locations where Arrival Notification functionality is not being provided by the inventory system or where an inventory system is not in use, carriers must make provision for an electronic Arrival Notification (IE347) to be submitted to the ICS system - in common with all ICS functionality, no manual (paper) submission option is available.

The ICS diversion request

Where the active means of transport (vessel/aircraft/lorry) is to be diverted to an OoFE in a member state which was not identified on the original ENS, the carrier must lodge a ‘Diversion Request’ to the initially declared OoFE. That office then transmits information to the actual OoFE about any consignments for which a positive risk was identified. If the declared OoFE did not find any risks, no information will be forwarded to the actual OoFE. The Diversion Request (IE323) must be submitted electronically.

ICS operation in member states other than the UK

Where cargo destined for the UK initially enters the EU via another member state, traders will need to consult any ICS guidance issued by the member state responsible for the OoFE. The UK guidance can only cover the ICS process where the UK is OoFE.

ICS information

Further information on the UK Import Control System(ICS)

UK fallback arrangements for the ICS

If an Economic Operators system is unavailable

The UK will not accept ICS declarations by other means for example by paper, data key or email. Economic Operators will need to make arrangements for the Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to be submitted by another Economic Operator on their behalf or keep trying to submit an ENS up to the point that the Arrival Notification is processed. The later the ENS is sent in these circumstances the greater the possibility of encountering delays upon arrival.

A valid ENS declaration will be required to be submitted to allow Economic Operators to fulfil their legal obligations.

Not being able to declare ENS data from their own systems due to system failure will not automatically be accepted as a valid excuse for not declaring an ENS to the UK ICS.

If a CSP system is unavailable

If a CSP system is unavailable, Economic Operators should operate under their individual CSPs fallback arrangements (usually by use of another CSP system) or submit their declaration via the Trader Front End (TFE).

If all CSP systems are unavailable, Economic Operators will need to either use the published CSP fallback provisions or use an alternative electronic method (such as, another traders system where the trader links to the front end) to allow the ENS to be declared.

If the core UK ICS system, including TFE, is unavailable to both UK and Economic Operators Economic Operators and CSPs should continue to send messages to UK ICS until HMRC confirm the non-availability of the core ICS system. These will be queued until the system is restored.

When the ICS system is restored, an ENS can be sent for consignments en-route that have not yet had the Arrival Notification processed.

HMRC will advise other member states when the UK ICS is not available so other MS can be aware that some consignments, particularly involving short flights, may not have a MRN allocated.

Bulk consignments procedures

Consignments eligible for relief under the Additional procedure codes DE 1/11: C31; C35; C36; C56; may be grouped on a customs declaration subject to the following conditions:

  • a valid EORI number is held by the importer
  • prior approval by customs is given
  • the single item declaration is supported by a manifest, identifying the individual items in the consignment with enough detail for control purposes, subject to the satisfaction of NIRU. The manifest must be entered on the declaration in DE 2/3 using Doc Code ‘N271’, along with the reference number of the manifest
  • invoices for each item in the consignment must be held by the trader to support the manifest, except for un-invoiced documents, when details of the names and addresses of the consignor and consignee must be held - these will occasionally be required for verification by NIRU and must be produced on request

Low Value Bulking Imports (LVBI)

LVBI is a customs simplification and trade facilitation that allows authorised traders to declare multiple consignments of low value goods on a single customs import declaration with a reduced data set.

Further details about the consignments are retained in traders’ records.

The LVBI procedure will only be operated in CDS for the duration of dual running with CHIEF. At the end of the dual running phase, the LVBI procedure will no longer be provided by CDS.

LVBI can be used in CDS with the following Additional procedure codes DE 1/11:

  • 1LV: Low Value Bulking Imports (LVBI) in excess of £15 but not exceeding £135
  • 2LV: Low Value Bulking Imports (LVBI) not exceeding £15

Prior authorisation for use of these Additional Procedure Codes must be obtained from:

National Rejected Imports Team (NRIT)
HM Revenue and Customs
Sapphire Plaza
Watlington Street

LVBI authorisation holders must follow the conditions/ instructions/ restrictions in their authorisations.

The additional procedure codes shown above must not be used for goods:

  • subject to a prohibition or restrictions (including any requiring licensing)
  • intended for any customs regime or relief
  • subject to Excise Duty

Refer to the Appendix 2B,National additional procedure code DE 1/11 notes for more information on the conditions, restrictions and declaration completion instructions that apply to additional procedure codes 1LV and 2LV.

Where goods are from multiple consignors or intended for multiple consignees, the declaration must be completed as indicated in the following paragraphs.

Multiple consignors

Multiple consignors must be entered with an AI code ‘00200’ with ‘Various’ entered against it in DE 2/2. ‘00200 - see list attached’ is then entered in each of the name, street, city and postcode fields in DE 3/15 at header level.

The EORI field can be left blank for multiple consignors.

The country code field DE 3/1 should contain the code for the country the goods have been exported from.

Multiple consignees

Multiple consignees must be entered with an AI code ‘00200’ with ‘Various’ entered against it in DE 2/2. ‘00200’ is then entered in each of the name, street, city and postcode fields in DE 3/15 at header level.

The EORI number of the LVBI authorisation holder must be entered to DE 3/16.


Where a separate agent is used, who differs from the LVBI approved entity, the agent’s details must be entered as the Declarant/ Representative according to the completion rules provided in the UK Trade Tariff, CDS Volume 3 Import Declaration Completion Guide.

Simplification of the drawing up of customs declarations for goods falling under different tariff subheadings (Article 228 of the UCC DA)

Where several different commodities are being imported, these may be eligible to be declared against a single goods description/ goods item on the customs declaration. This requires entering the commodity code which attracts the highest duty rate in DE 6/14 – 6/17, combined with AI Statement Code ‘00600’ in DE 2/2, with ‘Article 228, EU Reg. No. 2015/2447 applied’ against the statement code.

The following conditions must be met to use this simplification:

  • the total value of the goods declared must not exceed £6,000
  • goods may not be subject to any prohibitions or restrictions
  • goods must not be subject to any licences
  • claims to quota may not be made
  • claims to preference are not allowed
  • goods must not be subject to CAP or anti-dumping duty charges

Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP)

CFSP offers streamlined processes for the declaration of goods, which will enable you to:

  • gain accelerated release of your goods from customs at the (air)port or at authorised locations inland, subject to anti-smuggling checks
  • use CFSP in combination with normal declaration and warehouse procedures to suit the needs of your business
  • achieve cash flow benefits – the duty and Import VAT are not paid until the Supplementary Declaration (SD) is submitted
  • submit frontier declarations and all SDs by electronic means
  • build a partnership with HMRC so that assurance visits are cost effective, selected based on risk, and test the completeness of internal controls
  • use third-party service providers to submit electronic declarations

There are 2 types of CFSP authorisation:

  • the Simplified Declaration Procedure (SDP) - used for releasing goods at the frontier to most customs procedures and which may be useful if you’re importing perishable goods. This process involves a 2-part declaration process of a simplified declaration followed by a supplementary declaration
  • entry in the Declarant’s records (EIDR) – a declaration is made in the Trader’s records rather than directly to HMRC releasing them to a customs procedure, which is followed by a supplementary declaration

Full details of how CFSP declarations should be completed under CDS will be detailed separately as SDP completion instructions and EIDR completion instructions. The CDS Tariff will not refer to the completion of CFSP declarations. Apply for authorisation for CFSP using form CE48 and find more information on CFSP in Notice 760.

Goods imported by post

Consignments of goods imported by letter or parcel post must comply with internationally agreed arrangements which are embodied in UK postal and customs regulations. One essential requirement is that postal packages must be accompanied by a properly completed customs declaration, either on form CN22 or CN23 (a ‘green label’) as appropriate, which describes in full the nature, quantity and value of the goods contained in the package.

Most imported postal packages are cleared by customs under this arrangement, but a full import declaration must be made for high value consignments (Goods that exceed the statistical value threshold under Article 144 UCC DA), and for goods which are eligible for certain duty or tax reliefs, or when further information about the goods is required.

Full information about the customs procedures for postal imports are contained in Notice 143. Where postal consignments require a full customs import declaration to be made, the instructions in either the CDS UK Trade Tariff, or the CHIEF UK Trade Tariff must be observed as appropriate.

Imports of personal and household effects

Any manual declarations for personal and household effects will be made via CHIEF during Phase1 of CDS – refer to the CHIEF UK Trade Tariff for further information.

Goods imported as merchandise in a passenger’s baggage (MIB)

All declarations for goods imported in a passenger’s baggage will be made via CHIEF during Phase 1 of CDS. Refer to the CHIEF UK Trade Tariff for guidance on the completion of the declarations.

Further information will be provided on the implementation of this service in CDS as the programme develops.

ATA carnets

An ATA carnet is an international customs document that can be used in place of normal customs documents to temporarily export certain goods for use outside the EU. It can also be used to temporarily import non-EU goods for use in the UK/EU.

Full information about the use of ATA carnets can be obtained from Chambers of Commerce or can be found in Notice 104. Where required, ATA carnets can be declared to CDS using Appendix 2, Additional procedure national code ‘1AT’ in DE 1/11.

Customs Clearance Request (CCR) form C21

The C21 Declaration Category will not be available in CDS during Phase1. All C21 declarations will be made via CHIEF during this phase. Refer to the CHIEF UK Trade Tariff for guidance on the completion of these declarations.

Further information will be provided on the implementation of this service in CDS as the Programme develops.

Customs Warehousing


This is an EU Special Procedure under which non-EU goods may be stored without payment of the Customs Duty and import VAT due.

Type R is a public warehouse authorised for use by warehouse keepers whose main business is the storage of goods deposited by other traders.

Type U is a private warehouse authorised for use by individual traders for the storage of goods. The warehouse keeper must be the same person as the depositor (declared as the Importer in DE 3/16) and is bound by the condition of warehousing. They do not have to own the goods.

Entry to customs warehousing procedure

Goods imported for customs warehousing must be declared to customs in the normal way using a customs declaration. However, goods can be entered to customs warehousing by the simplified declaration procedure SDP, and Entry in the Declarant’s Records (EIDR) by authorised traders.

Removal from customs warehousing procedure

Removals from customs warehousing to free circulation and other suspensive procedures must be made for each individual removal or by using EIDR. See the 71xx series of codes in Appendix 1, Requested and previous procedure codes DE 1/10.

Information on valuation for removals from customs warehouse is contained in Notice 252 for Customs Duty and Notice 702 VAT: Imports and warehoused goods for import VAT.

Further information

You can get more information about customs warehousing, including simplified procedures for removals in Notice 3001 or from the Imports and exports: general enquiries helpline.

Excise warehousing

Goods in free circulation (Customs duties paid) can be stored in an Excise warehouse to suspend the payment of excise duty and VAT.

Excise warehousing takes place at premises specifically approved for this purpose and the goods must be in free circulation before they can enter the warehouse. Goods imported from non-EU countries must be declared in the normal way using a customs declaration before entering an excise warehouse. See the 07xx series of codes in Appendix 1, Requested and previous procedure codes for DE 1/10.

Goods acquired from other member states of the EU should be covered by an Administrative Accompanying Document (AAD).

Goods imported for excise warehousing are not subject to any requirement that they should be re-exported.

More information about the procedures for importation into excise warehouses or into registered or entered excise premises can be found in:

Temporary Admissions (TA)

Goods to be re-exported without alteration

Relief from customs charges is available for goods which are imported for temporary use in the UK in a wide range of circumstances. The ‘total’ duty reliefs extends to import VAT for goods temporarily imported into the UK. For most goods security will be required for the full amount of duties and import VAT potentially due.

To claim relief an authorisation is required. This may be a full authorisation (pre-approved) or a one-off authorisation. An application for a one-off authorisation can be made at the time of a declaration for an Authorisation by Customs Declaration using the appropriate Procedure Code DE 1/10 in the ‘53’ series on a standard customs import declaration. This constitutes an application for relief under TA and a formal declaration that the conditions for the relief claimed are met and will be observed. Prior written application for full authorisation can also be made using form SP5.

If relief has been granted but the goods are subsequently released to free circulation instead of being re-exported, a diversion declaration must be made and any revenue paid.

Details of the goods and uses for which relief may be available, and the qualifying conditions are in Notice 3001. The TA Procedure Codes in the 53xx series are listed in Appendix 1, Requested and previous procedure codes for DE 1/10.

Goods to be re-exported after processing

Goods imported for processing (for example, for use in manufacture in the UK), with relief from customs duties or other charges. Goods may be subsequently re-exported to a non-EU country or diverted to free circulation on the payment of any suspended revenue. The procedure (which is governed by Council regulation 952/2013) is known as Inward Processing (IP), and declarations are made to IP using a Procedure Code DE in the 51xx series, listed in Appendix 1.

IP duty suspension means any import duties and other charges are not paid at the time of import but are payable if goods are placed on the home market in the Union.

Importers using IP must be authorised – this can be prior authorisation (Full) or Authorisation by Customs Declaration. Further information about these reliefs can be found in Notice 3001.

Outward processing

Goods may be reimported into the UK, after processing outside the EU, with total or partial relief from duty if they were originally exported under Outward Processing (OP) arrangements, and the conditions of that procedure have been met. The rules governing OP are contained in EEC Council Regulation 952/2013.

For the simplified procedure, official evidence of the original exportation, obtained from customs at the time of export, must be presented with the import declaration. The relief is also available for goods which were originally exported from another member state if documentary evidence issued by customs in that member state is presented with the import declaration (INF2).

The relief is confined to that proportion of the imported goods which were originally exported. More information about OP can be found in Notice 3001 and the procedure codes in Appendix 1, Requested and previous procedure codes for DE 1/10.

Returned Goods Relief

For re-imported goods which have not been processed outside the EU, Returned Goods Relief (RGR) exists. Under this procedure, free circulation goods exported from the EU may be wholly or partially relieved from import duty (which includes anti-dumping duties and agricultural levies) when they are returned providing this occurs within 3 years of their exportation.

Where goods meet the conditions for RGR, VAT relief is available provided the goods were not sold while outside the EU.

There are also special arrangements for reimported works of art. More details about these arrangements can be found in Notice 236.

Full details of the conditions for claiming RGR can be found in Notice 236. See Appendix 1, Procedure codes series for DE 1/10 and Appendix 2, Additional procedure codes for DE 1/11 for details on how to declare goods to RGR.

Special requirements for certain goods

There are several situations when additional information to that generally required for imports must be entered on the import declaration. See Appendix 4, Additional information statement codes for DE 2/2, Appendix 1 Requested and previous procedure codes for DE1/10 and Appendix 2, Additional procedure codes for DE 1/11 respectively.

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) goods

Agricultural goods imported from non-EU countries may be liable to CAP charges, in addition to Customs Duty, consisting of:

  • countervailing charges
  • variable charges (specific element of Ad-Valorem customs duty)
  • safeguard charges

They may also be subject to CAP licensing requirements.

A list of goods subject to CAP is contained in Notice 780.

CDS will determine most CAP charges at the rate applying at the time of acceptance of the declaration. However, make sure you observe the Import DE completion rules for any specific charges that must be calculated by an importer and entered to the declaration, or when an Additional procedure code may be required to indicate a special valuation measure is used for CAP.

Further details of the special provisions that apply to imports of CAP goods, including the application of CAP licensing may be found in Import and export Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) goods, and in a series of leaflets and notices published by the Rural Payments Agency.

Hydrocarbon oil goods

When hydrocarbon oil (including chargeable road fuel additives or substitutes liable to Excise Duty) is imported the description of the hydrocarbon oil in DE 6/8 of the import declaration must be enough to show whether it’s liable at a reduced or rebated rate of Excise Duty. For additional information on excise classification, reduced and rebated rates of Excise Duty, and chargeable road fuel additives or substitutes, see UK Trade Tariff: excise duties, reliefs, drawbacks and allowances.

If rebate is claimed on imported hydrocarbon oil, or on the chargeable road fuel additives or substitutes the import declaration at manual locations must include in DE 4/3:

  • the appropriate ‘rebated rate’ Tax Type code
  • the effective (such as rebated) Excise Duty rate
  • the actual net charge

If the effective rate is NIL this must be shown, and the amount column in DE 4/6 must be left blank.

If a conditionally reduced or rebated rate of hydrocarbon oil Excise Duty is being claimed (for example, for unmarked oil imported under a marking waiver) use Additional Procedure Code (DE 1/11) ‘1RE’, Additional Information Code (DE 2/2) ‘RED01’ followed by a statement for the reason for the relief, and Document Code (DE 2/3) ‘9AIE’ providing the reference number for the supporting evidence.

Additional Procedure Code (DE 1/11) ‘1TO’ must be used for goods imported under the ‘TIED OIL’ scheme - Information about tied oil imports is given in Notice 171.

The quantity in standard litres (see UK Trade Tariff: excise duties, reliefs, drawbacks and allowances or Notice 179 must be shown in DE 6/2 Supplementary units.

Animals, plants and fur skins

Where animals (other than common, domestic or farm animals), reptiles, birds, plants, fur skins and articles containing fur skin and plumage are imported and these are exempted from the requirement to hold a permit or certificate under the EU CITES Regulations, declare Document Code ‘Y900’ in DE 2/3 stating that the goods being imported are not subject to restriction under that Act - see appendix 5, Documents and other reference codes for DE 2/3.

An appropriate document code from appendix 5, Documents and other reference codes for DE 2/3, should also be used to state the presence of:

  • ivory or tortoise-shell incorporated in goods which are not classified in commodity codes 050710, 050790, 960110 or 960190

Containers and pallets

For temporarily imported containers or pallets, an Additional Information statement code must be entered in DE 2/2. A full list of these codes can be found in Appendix 4, Additional information statement codes for DE 2/2. See Notice 3001.

Supplementary statistical requirements

Where the goods concerned are subject to a TARIC measure in relation to a CUS code, the CUS code must be provided. The provision of the CUS code is optional where no TARIC measure exists for the goods concerned, however supplementary statistics are compiled about chemicals of a value exceeding £1,000 and falling within Chapters 28 and 29 of the UK Trade Tariff.

For this purpose the precise chemical name and the 5-digit reference Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number shown in the EU Commission’s publication ‘European Customs Inventory of Chemicals’ must be declared under the CUS Code in DE 6/13) on the declaration, or, if the chemical is not listed, the precise name in accordance with British Standard 2474/1983 and the words ‘not listed’ must be declared in DE 6/8 Description of Goods.


The Excise Duty on beer imported is assessed on the percentage of alcohol by volume.

The total net weight should be shown in DE 6/1 Net Mass, and the number of litres of beer in DE 6/2 Supplementary Units. The percentage of alcohol by volume is to be declared in DE 4/4 Measurement Unit Codes against code ‘ASV’. See appendix 20, Measurement unit codes for DE 8/7 and DE 4/4.

Documents to accompany declarations

The rules regarding documents in support of SDP and EIDR declarations are set out in Notice 760. All supporting documentation required by EU and National legislation should be retained for customs audit purposes at the company’s registered premises.

Notice of arrival

When declarations are submitted before the ship, aircraft or vehicle carrying the goods has arrived an individual notice of arrival is required. When the ship, aircraft or vehicle arrives at the place where the goods are to be unloaded the declaration on the notice of arrival must be completed and then re-submitted to customs. If any details on the declaration require amendment, the re-submitted notice of arrival must be accompanied by a request to this effect.

Removal note

A removal note form C130 must be produced when goods are removed from a non-inventory linked location. When the goods have been cleared, the removal note will be stamped by customs to indicate that the goods can be removed, and the note will be returned to the importer consignee or their agent.

Payment slip

When duties or taxes are being paid in cash a payment slip form C513 must be attached to manual declarations. Manual declarations can only be submitted via CHIEF during CDS Phase 1, and importers must therefore refer to the CHIEF UK Trade Tariff for guidance on completing manual declarations until further notice.

Commercial invoices and packing lists

The submission of paper-based documentation will be phased out in CDS and replaced by a service called Documentum. Further information will be provided by the CDS Programme as this service is rolled out. Until this process is in place and instructions are provided otherwise, the existing CHIEF process should be followed.

Declarations must usually be supported by the commercial invoice for the goods. If customs request sight of the invoice, and the importer wants to have this invoice returned to them, they must supply an extra copy for retention by customs. The invoice should include a clear description of the goods. If they are described in a foreign language a translation may be required.

When the invoice is made out to a person established in a member state other than the UK and scrutiny of the invoice is required, an additional copy of the invoice must be provided for certification by customs. This certified copy of the invoice will then be returned to the importer so that it can be forwarded to the person the invoice is made out to.

Unless details of the contents of individual packages are shown on the invoice, a packing list, weight note, or similar advice is usually also needed as. Copies of the invoice and of other supporting commercial documents are usually accepted.

When end-use relief Notice 3001 is claimed on used goods and the original invoices are not available, a detailed list with estimated values is acceptable in place of invoices. This is provided the detail is enough for the items to be identified.

If clearance of the goods is required urgently and any of the documents described above have not been received or need correction, alternative evidence in the form of telex or similar messages can be submitted instead. Customs will decide whether it’s acceptable and whether confirmation is required.

Documents supporting application for relief

When relief from duty is claimed, the declaration must be supported by either documentary evidence to show that the conditions of the relief are met or an undertaking that they will be met, or both. This is dependent on the type relief appropriate.

Further details of such reliefs are given in both Appendix 1, Requested and previous procedure codes for DE 1/10 and Appendix 2, Additional procedure codes for DE 1/11. In addition, the documents in support of a relief must be declared using the appropriate codes in appendix 5, Documents and other reference codes for DE 2/3.

Guidance on reliefs, including the conditions and restrictions that apply, is also shown in Import and export notices: alphabetical order.

If you don’t present documents in support of a relief, you may be required to repay any customs charges that have been relieved.

Documents supporting declarations for goods claimed to be in free circulation or claims to preferential rates of duty or tariff quota reliefs, or both

Tariff preference

When goods are claimed to be in free circulation the declaration must be completed with the appropriate document code in DE 2/3 for the certificate or origin declaration in support of the claim. See appendix 5, Documents and other reference codes for DE 2/3.

If a claim to a preferential rate of duty is made, the appropriate preference code must be declared. See appendix 12, Preference codes for DE 4/17 for the list of codes that can be used. Claims to preference must be supported by documentary evidence that the goods are eligible for a preferential rate of duty. See appendix 5, Documents and other reference codes for DE 2/3.

Further guidance about procedures for making claims on declarations for imported goods is in Notice 826 (for EU preferential treatment). Claims for Turkish preference must be supported by the appropriate movement certificate (ATR). Further information on claiming preferential treatment for Turkish goods is in Notice 812.

Tariff quotas

Any serial number for tariff quota relief should be entered in Quota Order Number DE 8/1. This must be supported by documentary evidence that the goods are eligible for quota. See appendix 5, Documents and other reference codes for DE2/3. See Notice 375 for tariff quota reliefs.

Where the necessary evidence to support the claim is not held, the claim will usually be accepted provisionally. The goods will be released against suitable security. Usually a guarantee or a deposit equal to the duty that would be payable if the claim were not granted. The guarantee will be discharged, or the deposit refunded when the evidence is produced. This is provided duty at the full rate has not been re-imposed or any tariff quota that applies has not exhausted.

Import licences, permits and certificates

If the goods require an EU or individual import licence, permit or certificate for their importation, the document, other than an open individual licence, must be attached to the declaration or declared either as being with the goods or the reason for its non-availability explained in DE 2/3. Refer to the Import Data Element Completion Rules for more information and refer to appendix 5C, Documents and other reference codes, licence types for DE 2/3.

Supporting documents (for manual declarations made to CDS)

If a document inspection is being made by customs, it will be made easier if you provide the documents in the following order:

  • notice of arrival (form C27)
  • payment slip (form C513) (manual locations)
  • removal note (form C130)
  • deposit form C&E955 or C&E955(D)
  • undertaking advice (form C578)
  • original copy (6) of the declaration
  • bulk declaration details (form C515 and form C515A continuation) or (forms C516 and C516A continuation)
  • supporting documents, for example CT documents, preference certificates and invoices
  • statistical copy (7) of the declaration (manual locations only)
  • additional copy of the declaration when required
  • importer’s copy (8) of the declaration (VAT copy if required)
  • declarant’s copy if required

If customs’ attention needs to be drawn to a particular document or procedure requiring priority treatment (for example a request for urgent clearance on form C1397, removal to trader’s premises), the relevant document should be placed on top of the removal note.

Any continuation sheets are to be positioned with the original, statistical or other copies of the declaration.

Consignee’s/declarant’s request for return of documents

Importers or agents who want to have certain documents supporting the declaration returned to them must complete form C1394.

Accepting telexed information, copy documents and an undertaking to produce documents

The table at the end of this section explains when telexed information or copies (including documents produced by other electronic means) are usually acceptable in support of declarations and when an undertaking to produce documents might be given. The acceptance of these documents and undertakings is a concession that might be withdrawn from anyone who does not comply with the conditions specified here or by the local customs.

The examples given in the table are for guidance and are not necessarily exhaustive. For certain types of importation, original documents must be produced with the declaration. Information about documents not referred to in the table can be obtained from the customs office where the declaration is to be presented.

Entitlement to a preferential rate of duty is established only if the original document or proof of origin is declared on the declaration and is in the declarant’s possession and at customs disposal. If this rate ceases to apply before the original document is produced, the non-preferential rate of duty must be paid.

When subsequent production of an original document is required, security may have to be in the form of a deposit, although in most cases security is acceptable in the form of an individual undertaking or guarantee. Details of the types of security acceptable in particular circumstances and the time limits for production of the original document are shown in the table.

When importers or agents want to obtain release of goods pending production of evidence of entitlement to preference by paying the preferential rate of duty outright and securing the balance by cashless security, the guidelines in the paragraph Payment of customs duties and other charges should be followed.

In all cases customs reserve the right to require production of the original document when the declaration is presented, or before the goods are cleared or after clearance has been given.

Supporting documents that were not available when the declaration was submitted to customs must be produced subsequently. They must be presented within 14 days (unless the table indicates otherwise) to:

National Clearance Hub (NCH):
HM Revenue and Customs
National Clearance Hub
Ralli Quays
3 Stanley Street
M60 9LA

Document Is teletex information acceptable? Is facsimile copy acceptable in place of original document? Must original document always be produced? Type of security required pending production What is the time limit for production?
Commercial invoice, packing list, weight note or similar advice Yes. Unconditionally for declarations on which no duty is payable or which don’t require a Form C105 for VAT purposes and declarations for goods liable only to specific duty; provisionally for all other declarations, pending production of the actual document. Yes No For invoice; an undertaking given on the declaration, if subsequent production is required 14 days
Preference certificates (except ATR1 and ATR3 forms) for goods subject to preference other than those subject to tariff quotas No No Yes Deposit of duty in dispute or Guarantee 4 months
Preference certificates (except ATR1 and ATR3 forms) for goods subject to preference other than those subject to tariff quotas No No Yes Deposit of duty in dispute or Guarantee 4 months
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); Import Licences Yes -from issuing authority No Yes Undertaking declaration plus, where document determines rate, deposit at full rate of potential charge; or Guarantee 14 days
EU Turkey movement certificates ATR No No Yes (a) undertaking on declaration and guarantee (a) 4 months from date of declaration
Particular goods: (a) Beer: declaration of quantity and Alcohol by Volume (ABV%) Yes Yes Yes General Bond Pending result test
Particular goods: (b) Wines and spirits of in cask: list of capacities and contents Yes Yes No General Bond Pending result test
Particular goods: (c) Oils in packages: of weight note or packing note Yes Yes No General Bond Pending result test
Particular goods: (d) Duty free oils for of industrial oil relief scheme (see Notice 184A): certificate by approved person or agent. No Yes No General Bond Pending result test

Any guarantee must be endorsed by a bank or financial institution approved by HMRC.

Where these manifest extracts are used, the original invoices must be retained in declaration number order, so they can be easily retrieved for inspection by HMRC, if needed.


The checks listed below should be carried out before presentation of the declaration to customs. They will help to detect errors and omissions and avoid unnecessary delay to the clearance of goods. The list is not exhaustive, and includes some items which may not apply to all types of importation.

Completeness of the declaration

This section will help you complete customs declarations.

Check that no data element on the declaration which should be completed has been left blank. Check appendix 21, Declaration category data sets to identify the mandatory DEs and the DEs that must be completed in certain circumstances as defined in the notes to the Appendix.

Where appropriate, the following checks should be made:

  • duty deferment approval numbers in DE 2/6 are correct
  • EORI numbers where held are correct for the DEs in Data Group 3
  • the Procedure code and Additional procedure codes in DE 1/10 and DE 1/11 are correct
  • all document codes and additional information codes required for the procedure are entered
  • for goods liable to ad valorem duty, the valuation method has been declared in DE 4/16
  • any additions or deductions have been correctly entered to DE 4/9

Tariff, statistical and VAT classification

Check that:

  • the description of goods in DE 6/8 and the commodity code in DE 6/14 to 6/17 are declared correctly and consistent with each other
  • any exemptions or reductions to national taxes appropriate to the commodity code are entered in DE 6/17
  • for goods chargeable with VAT, any adjustment for VAT to the item price entered in DE 4/14 is correctly declared in DE 4/9
  • where a claim to preference or quota is being made, the codes declared in DE 5/14, DE 5/15, DE 8/1 are correct where tariff measures or licenses or certificates are required the data in DE 2/2, 2/3 and 4/3 to 4/8 are consistent with the claim

Any Binding Tariff Information (BTI) Reference Number, if held, should be entered in DE 2/3 against Doc Code ‘C626’. See appendix 5, Documents and other reference codes for DE 2/3 for more information.

Quantity and value

Check that:

  • all the goods and the invoice value for each goods item has been declared as required in DE 4/14
  • the quantities are expressed in figures only and in the correct units
  • the proper valuation method has been used and any adjustments appropriate to that method have been made


Ensure that the method of payment code is properly completed against each tax type. Carry out a check for any manual duty calculations to detect any obvious errors, such as misplaced decimal points or transposed figures, or both, in:

  • currency conversions
  • quantities
  • values
  • amounts of duty or other charges

Tax lines are to be completed according to the rules of the DE rules and the Procedure Code concerned.

Supporting documents

Check that all the relevant supporting documents have been declared in DE 2/3 and with the appropriate status code.

Where declarations have been pre-lodged and a documentary inspection is anticipated, copies have been provided to the NCH.

Where declarations are processed as paperless declarations all accompanying documentation specified within this section should be retained for customs audit purposes at the company’s registered premises, that is:

  • notice of arrival
  • payment slip or deposit detail slip
  • removal note
  • duty deferment ‘specific authority’
  • import licence, permit or certificate; other licences or certificates
  • documentary proof of origin for textile goods
  • invoice or other evidence of value, packing list, specification and, where necessary, translations
  • evidence of freight charges
  • form VAT 905 where relief from VAT is claimed at the time of importation in respect of antiques, works of art and scientific collections
  • additional copies of the invoice:
    • if evidence of duty payment is required
    • for VAT (where goods are consigned to more than one consignee, like ‘bulked’ declarations)
    • if some of the goods on the invoice are to be entered on a separate declaration
    • if the invoice is made out to a person established in a member state of the EU other than the UK
    • if necessary to identify goods when a claim is made to end-use relief
    • if chemicals in tariff chapters 28 and 29
    • if gold falling within commodity codes 710811 710812, 710813 and 710820
    • if crude oil falling within commodity code 270900
  • evidence of free circulation status or entitlement to preferential duty rates or tariff quota relief
  • importer’s authority when required for the declarant to give an undertaking or to make a special request, claim or declaration
  • work sheet when:
    • there are several invoices
    • the declaration consists of more than one item
    • manual duty calculations have been made
    • the goods are subject to Excise Duty, Anti-Dumping Duty, or CAP charges, or both, and calculations cannot be shown on the declaration itself, because there is not enough space
  • form C578, where an undertaking to produce form C105A, invoice, CAP licence or facsimile preference certificate has been given

Underpayments of customs charges: post-clearance demand notes

The National C18 Team, Belfast is responsible for the processing of declarations in respect of C18 Post Clearance Demand Notes. Contact them at the following address:

National C18 Team
Dorchester House
52-58 Great Victoria Street

Telephone: 03000 587533


Claim for repayment or remission of import duties (including excise duties)

See section 8 of Notice 199.

Non-availability of computer systems - fallback

Further information on CDS fallback will be provided in a later version of the CDS UK Trade Tariff.

Published 1 August 2018