Environmental management - guidance

Waste - Waste: import and export

There are European and UK rules governing how you can ship waste into or out of the country.

The regulations apply from the point of loading the waste until it has been fully recovered or disposed of at the destination facility. If you fail to follow them, you may be committing a criminal offence and risk prosecution, financial penalties and/or imprisonment.

The controls that apply to your waste shipment will depend on:

  • the treatment planned for the waste when it reaches its destination
  • the country of destination and the transport route
  • the waste type

Knowing this information will allow you to decide if your waste shipment:

  • is prohibited
  • requires prior notification and consent from the competent authorities concerned
  • can occur under Article 18 controls (also known as green list controls) – this is a lower form of control than notification, and mainly applies to shipment of non-hazardous waste

International waste shipments (IWS) or transfrontier shipments of waste are other terms for exporting and importing waste – they mean the same thing.

If you produce, carry, import, keep or dispose of waste you have responsibilities. You have a legal duty of care to make sure your waste is handled safely and only passed to people who are authorised to receive it.

Everyone involved in the shipment must ensure that any waste is managed without endangering human health and in an environmentally sound manner.

Waste shipment controls

Follow these steps to work out the controls that apply to your waste shipment and what forms you need to complete.

1: classify

You must first find out if the material to be exported or imported is classed as waste in any country involved in the journey. See:

You must then work out if the intended journey and destination for your waste is legal. All exports or imports of waste to or from European Union (EU) countries are governed by the EU Waste Shipments Regulation. Wherever else you ship waste, you must comply with the requirements of this regulation and import controls of any countries outside the EU. This includes any countries through which the waste will pass or dock during transport.

2: disposal or recovery

Importing and exporting waste for recovery is possible, depending on country controls, waste type and destination.

You cannot export or import waste for disposal. There are a few rare exceptions described in the UK Plan for waste shipments. In these cases notification controls will always apply.

The terms ‘disposal’ and ‘recovery’ are defined in the EU Waste Framework Directive.

3: waste code

You must match your waste to one of the description codes listed in the annexes to the Waste Shipments Regulation. You may find it easier to use the consolidated waste list – it has all the annexes in 1 document.

You must include the correct code in any forms you complete for shipping your waste.

4: export or import controls

The controls are Article 18, notification or prohibition. The general rules are outlined below but you must check the exact control with the destination country.

Recovery in other EU member states

Notification controls apply to waste listed in annex IV and IVA; they also apply to waste or mixtures of waste not classified under one single entry in annex III, IIIB, IV or IVA.

Article 18 controls generally apply to waste listed in annex III, IIIA, or IIIB.

Recovery in OECD countries outside the EU

Notification controls apply to waste listed in annex IIIB, IV and IVA; they also apply to waste or mixtures of waste not classified under one single entry in annex III, IIIB, IV or IVA.

Article 18 controls generally apply to waste listed in annex III or IIIA.

Recovery in a non-OECD country outside the EU

Certain wastes listed in annex V are prohibited from export including hazardous waste and household waste. Check the EU (green list) regulations which set out the controls applying to waste listed in annex III and IIIA according to each non-OECD country.

If you export wastes such as packaging, batteries, end of life vehicles, waste electrical and electronic equipment, there is additional producer responsibility legislation with which you may need to comply.

You should now know if your waste shipment is subject to Article 18, notification controls or prohibition.

Alternatively use the waste export control tool to work out the correct code and control for your shipment. Be aware that it is a guide only. Before shipping always check the controls with the transit and destination countries or their government departments, customs inspectorates or official waste regulatory bodies.

Use the waste export tool

Import or export: notification controls

You must:

  • apply to the competent authority of the country from where the waste will be exported by completing a notification and paying the correct fees

  • obtain consent from the relevant exporting and importing countries, paying any additional fees required by the importing authorities:

Competent authorities of EU countries

Competent authorities of OECD countries

Competent authorities of non-OECD countries

To export from England or Wales, you must:

  • be under the jurisdiction of England or Wales

  • apply to and obtain consent from the Environment Agency and importing authorities

and be one of the following:

  • the original waste producer

  • the licensed new producer

  • a licensed collector of waste

  • a registered dealer or broker with written authorisation from a producer or licensed collector to move their waste

  • the holder of the waste when all the above are unknown or insolvent

For exports from England and Wales

1: get a notification form and a movement form

You can get these from the Environment Agency International Waste Shipments team:

Email: shipments@environment-agency.gov.uk

Telephone: 01925 542265 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

The notification form will have a unique number for your waste shipment application. You will be given annex templates to complete your supplementary information.

2: complete the notification form

Complete all blocks. Use the guidance notes in annex IC of the EU Waste Shipments Regulation and the following important information for how to complete the form correctly:

Block 1:

  • the notifier’s/exporter’s name, address, telephone number, fax number, email, contact person and Companies House registration number

  • if the notifier is a waste broker, include the Broker Licence Number

Block 2

The importer or consignee name, address, telephone number, fax number, email, contact person and registration number.

Block 9

A ‘producer’ is either the original waste producer and/or anyone carrying out pre-processing, mixing or other operations to change the nature or composition of this waste (new producer)

If there is more than one producer and/or the waste is leaving from a storage facility please contact the Environment Agency International Waste Shipments team - you may need to complete annex 2.

Email: shipments@environment-agency.gov.uk

Telephone: 01925 542265 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Block 11

Complete annex 3 with a description of the process.

Block 12

If you don’t provide an accurate description, the Environment Agency cannot decide whether to approve your notification application. You must:

  • provide the name or names by which the material is commonly known, or the commercial name

  • name all main constituents (in terms of quantity and/or hazard) and their percentage concentrations where known

  • for mixed waste, provide the same information for each waste product

Process that produced the waste

For example, the description ‘photo chemicals’ is not sufficient, but ‘silver-containing aqueous developer solutions and bleach fixer solution from photo developing’ is acceptable.

Distinguish between similar wastes

For example, ‘batteries’ is not sufficient, but ‘zinc carbon batteries’ or ‘lithium ion batteries’ is acceptable.

Describe constituent parts of the waste

For example, ‘bag-house filter dusts’ - a typical composition might comprise ‘more than 90 % calcium oxide/alumina with other residual contaminants’.

If a waste has identifiable content, list this with percentage by weight. For example, a consignment of personal computers could be described as ‘40% by weight monitors, 5% by weight keyboards and 45% by weight base units’ - give details of the constituents and their relative concentrations where known.

Give details about variances in similar waste streams

For example:

  • distillation residues 1: toluene (50-60%), tarry organic solids (20-50%), water (10-20 %)

  • distillation residues 2: acetone (80-100%), tarry residues (0-20%)

Block 14

As a minimum you must include:

  • Basel code
  • OECD code (if applicable)
  • EWC code
  • Y code – if no suitable Y code, enter ‘not applicable’
  • H code – the H codes are on the back of the notification form - if there is no suitable code, enter ‘not applicable’

3: interim operation


Pre-treatment or repackaging of waste at an overseas site before moving to a place of final recovery is called an interim operation. The Waste Shipment Regulation specifies 5 interim operations using these codes:

  • R12 exchange of wastes

  • R13 accumulation of wastes

  • D13 blending or mixing of wastes

  • D14 repackaging of wastes

  • D15 storage of wastes

R = recovery, D = disposal

If your waste is destined for an interim operation, you must state the details of the waste treatment operations and where they take place, on the notification form. You will also need to complete an interim movement form.

4: financial guarantee or insurance

This ensures there is enough money available for the Environment Agency to deal with the waste if the shipment isn’t completed, including the cost of returning the exported waste to England or Wales. The approved guarantee or insurance must be sufficient to cover:

  • transporting the waste

  • waste recovery or disposal

  • storage for up to 90 days

If the waste is moving from an EU country, the competent authority of that country will assess and approve or reject your financial arrangements. Any competent authority concerned may also ask for a copy of your financial or insurance arrangements.

For exports from England or Wales and all non-EU imports, your financial guarantee or equivalent insurance needs the approval of the Environment Agency. Use the financial guarantee form to apply.

5: contract

Before you send in your notification application you must have a legally enforceable, written contract with the business that will be recovering or disposing of your notified waste.

This contract must include these responsibilities:

  • the business recovering or disposing of the waste must provide a certificate confirming they have legally recovered or disposed of the waste

  • the notifier must take the waste back if the shipment or the recovery or disposal does not go ahead as intended, or if the shipment is found to be illegal


  • the importer (consignee) must take responsibility for recovering or disposing of the waste if it is found to be illegal as a result of the consignee’s action

Any competent authority with an interest in the notification may ask for a copy of this contract.

6: third party insurance

You need this in place before you send in your notification application. Any competent authority concerned may ask for a copy of the insurance arrangements.

7: pay your charge

There is one charge per notification which is payable when the notification is made.

The charge depends on:

  • whether the waste is being imported or exported

  • the purpose of the shipment, whether it is for recovery or disposal

  • the band into which the number of shipments included in the notification falls

Charges for notifications of international waste shipments

Number of shipments: 1 2 to 5 6 to 20 21 to 100 101 to 500 500+
Export for recovery £1,450 £1,450 £2,700 £4,070 £7,920 £14,380
Export for non interim disposal £1,540 £1,540 £3,330 £5,500 £10,600 £19,500
Export for interim disposal £1,700 £1,700 £3,330 £,6,000 £12,900 £24,000
Import for non interim recovery £1,250 £1,250 £2,700 £4,900 £10,600 £19,500
Import for interim recovery £1,450 £1,450 £2,830 £5,500 £12,900 £24,000
Import for non interim disposal £1,540 £1,540 £3,330 £5,500 £10,600 £19,500
Import for interim disposal £1,700 £1,700 £3,330 £,6,000 £12,900 £24,000

Fees are payable to the Environment Agency. Ways to pay.

8: check notification package

Check it’s complete - this includes the details supplied in your notification document, including the information needed for annexes 1-7, and your movement document.

9: send the application

You must send to the competent authority of the country from where the waste will first move. So if your waste starts its journey from England or Wales, the competent authority is the Environment Agency. You need to send a separate copy for each competent authority involved.

If this is a repeat notification tell them the previous notification number.

Send your notification package to:

International Waste Shipments team
Environment Agency
Richard Fairclough House
Knutsford Road

Notification package assessment

The timings and stages in this section are for waste moving within the EU. Procedures outside the EU are similar, but if you need more information on the times and decision stages used by non-EU countries, contact the Environment Agency International Waste Shipments team.

Email: shipments@environment-agency.gov.uk

Telephone: 01925 542265 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Within 3 working days of receiving your notification package the competent authority of dispatch will check the content.

Notification package is complete

It will be sent on to the competent authority of destination and you will be told this has happened. Copies will also be sent to any competent authority involved in the transportation route.

Notification package is incomplete

The competent authority of dispatch will ask you for the missing information. Your application will not progress further until they receive it.

If you do not hear from the competent authority of dispatch within 30 days, ask them what has happened to your notification package – they must provide a reason for the delay.

The competent authority of destination reviews the notification package

Within 3 days of receiving the notification package they must check to ensure they have all the information they need. They may ask for further details, or ask to see copies of documents such as contracts.

Other competent authorities involved in your waste’s journey will also receive a copy of your notification package, and may ask for further information.

Once the competent authority of destination is satisfied the notification package is properly completed, they acknowledge this by completing block 19 of the notification document. They will send a copy of this to you and all the competent authorities involved.

Notification decision

Competent authorities must decide within 30 days of this acknowledgement to:

  • agree to the notification without conditions
  • agree, but with conditions
  • object

Any of the competent authorities involved may object, but only using reasons set out in the Waste Shipment Regulation.

If competent authorities of transit countries make no response within 30 days, it’s assumed they agree to the waste shipment.

This happens when the following are carried out:

  • competent authorities complete block 20 of the notification document, listing any conditions in block 21

  • you have agreement in writing from both the competent authorities of dispatch and destination

Notification controls: how to comply

Your consent allows you 12 months to ship your specified waste. You can only ship the type and quantity of waste described in the notification, using the destination and route described in your notification.

Before the waste moves:

  1. Check you have all the consents you need from the authorities involved and your financial guarantee is approved and in place.
  2. Prepare a movement document by filling in blocks 1, 3, 4, 7, and 9 to 15. Send a copy to the Environment Agency, the other competent authorities and the destination waste facility, but not more than 30 days before you intend to ship, and no later than 3 working days before shipping.

  3. Check the carriers you intend to use are registered and valid to carry your waste shipment in each country by contacting each relevant authority.

You must complete a movement document and keep a copy for every shipment made under the consented notification. A shipment (which may consist of more than one vehicle or container) starts at the place of loading and continues until fully recovered at the destination facility.

When the waste moves

The date when the shipment actually starts must be stated in block 6. A copy of the completed movement document and the consented notification document must go with the waste and stay with it throughout the journey.

Movement document: block 8

This is for recording transfers of the waste to different carriers during the journey.

Each new carrier must complete and keep a copy of the completed movement document.

There is space to record 3 waste carriers. If there are more, you will need to record the same details for each in a separate page.

Receive notified waste: actions

For each shipment of waste that arrives, you must complete block 18 of the movement form stating:

  • if the shipment is for disposal or recovery
  • whether you accept or reject the shipment
  • the quantity of waste in the shipment you receive
  • the expected date of recovery or disposal
  • the name and signature of a person at the destination facility with authorisation to receive the waste shipment

You must:

  • keep a copy of the completed document called a ‘certificate of receipt’ for at least 3 years
  • send copies to the notifier and all competent authorities involved within 3 working days

Reject the waste

If the waste arrives without documents you must:

  • immediately quarantine the waste
  • contact the Environment Agency International Waste Shipments team for guidance

Email: shipments@environment-agency.gov.uk

Telephone: 01925 542265 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or if overseas, the relevant competent authority.

Recover the waste: actions to take

You must treat the waste in the way specified in the notification document. You have one year from the date of receiving the waste to do this, unless the competent authority of your country has requested it be done sooner. Within 30 days of completing the treatment, fill in block 19 of the movement form with the:

  • date of the waste’s recovery or disposal
  • name and signature of a person with authority to confirm the recovery or disposal
  • company stamp

You must:

  • keep a copy of the completed document called a ‘certificate of recovery/disposal’ for at least 3 years
  • send copies to the notifier and all competent authorities involved

The notification expires when:

  • the competent authority receives all certificates of recovery/disposal for all movements of waste listed in the notification document
  • or if earlier, the consent given by the competent authority reaches its expiry date

When all the waste has been correctly recovered or disposed of, you can ask the competent authority to release the financial guarantee.

You must keep all documents about the waste shipment and treatment for at least 3 years.

Notified waste shipment doesn’t go ahead

If the shipment cannot proceed within 10 working days of the intended date specified in block 6 of the movement document, the shipment is considered ‘cancelled’. You must tell all the competent authorities involved.

Once cancelled you cannot change the shipment date or use the shipment number.

Contact the Environment Agency International Waste Shipments team for guidance.

Email: shipments@environment-agency.gov.uk

Telephone: 01925 542265 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)


  • if the waste has left England or Wales it may need to be brought back or transported to a different recovery site for recovery or disposal
  • if the competent authority of the destination or a transit country inspects and rejects your shipment you must comply with their requirements
  • it may be necessary for your financial guarantee to be used to ensure the waste is recovered in an environmentally sound manner

Increase the number of waste shipments

You can increase the shipments permitted on a notification but you must:

  • stay within the total tonnage detailed in block 5 of your notification document
  • send a written request to the competent authority before any extra shipments take place
  • get written consent for your extra shipments from all the competent authorities involved

You may need to pay extra – check the charges table.

Get a refund on a notification fee

You can get a partial credit or refund from the Environment Agency if:

  • the notification is objected to
  • none of the waste under your notification is shipped as intended

You must make a refund application within 12 months of the notification’s date of approval. If consent has not yet expired it will be withdrawn. There is an additional administration charge of £200 where consent has already been granted.

Apply for a new notification

You may do this before your existing consent expires.

Apply for site preconsent

If you run a waste recovery site with a permit and regularly receive shipments of the same waste, you may benefit from having a preconsent.


  • no cost to apply
  • the notification process is quicker
  • consents may run up to 3 years, rather than the standard 1 year

Complete and return the preconsent form.

Import or export: Article 18 controls

Check your ‘green list’ waste for contamination

A waste which you may think is ‘green list’ may need prior notification and consent or may be prohibited if it:

  • is mixed with a hazardous substance, for example, if a batch of waste paper also contains medical waste like used syringes
  • is mixed with another material to an extent which prevents the recovery of the wastes in an ‘environmentally sound manner’, for example, if glass, metals, plastic or wood are in a consignment of waste paper
  • is contaminated by household or mixed municipal waste

Ship ‘green list’ waste under Article 18 controls

You can export ‘green list’ waste without permission from, or payment of fees to the competent authorities of the countries involved in the shipment.Unless more stringent controls are required by the importing country (and it is your responsibility to check all requirements that apply).

Before shipping the waste: checklist

  1. Confirm the waste will be handled in an environmentally sound way at all times - you must be able to show that the recovery facility operates to meet human health and environment protection standards that are broadly equivalent to the standards within the EU.
    • you may be asked to provide evidence of your assessment during an inspection en route to the recovery facility
  2. Make sure that the Annex VII form is fully completed and sign it – it must travel with the waste at all times.
  3. Draw up a written contract between the person who arranges the shipment (exporter) and the importer/consignee – the contract must ensure that if the shipment cannot be completed as planned, or is found to be illegal, the exporter will take the waste back or recover it in another way, and provide for its storage in the meantime.

Complete the Annex VII form: checklist

Contact details must be in full - include contact name, company registered number if applicable, address, email and telephone number. Business confidentiality is not a reason for omitting these details.

The exporter in block 1 is the person who arranges the shipment and signs the declaration in block 12 to say that you have a contract in place. If you are a broker/dealer based in the European Union (EU), you must be registered with the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) or Natural Resources Wales if you arrange waste shipments from Great Britain. If you are a broker or dealer based outside the EU, you must be registered and also have a personal or business address in the UK.

The importer or consignee in block 2 may be the recovery facility or a broker/dealer who is under the jurisdiction of the country of destination and has legal control over the waste when it arrives there.

The recovery facility in block 7 must be the facility where the waste will be recovered (if the recovery operation is R12 or R13, you must also provide information about the facilities where further operations will take place).

The appropriate codes for block 8 can be found in Annex II of the EU Waste Framework Directive (if the recovery operation is R12 or R13, you must also provide information on further operations).

After the waste arrives: checklist

  • the importer or consignee and (if different) the recovery facility must sign and complete the Annex VII form at blocks 13 and 14
  • exporters, importers and consignees must keep copies of the forms for 3 years - competent authorities can ask to see them

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