Making a full export declaration


Last updated 29 April 2024

You should check if you need to declare goods you bring into or take out of the UK before you make a full export declaration.

Before you submit

You should check if the goods are leaving from a location that needs your export declaration to be submitted as ‘arrived’. If this is required, the declaration must be submitted before the goods start their journey to the border location.

If the goods are leaving from any other location, the declaration should be submitted as pre-lodged. This means the declaration must be submitted before the goods are presented to customs at the UK border.

When to submit

You or your representative must declare and obtain clearance for your goods with customs before they are allowed to leave the UK and this depends on the last mode of transport you use.

When you should make your declaration depends on the last mode of transport you use to move the goods.

Road and inland waters

You must make a declaration at least one hour before your departure when using road or inland waters.


You must make a declaration within 2 hours before leaving port if you are moving your goods using a boat or ship and your cargo is in a container from the UK to:

  • Greenland
  • Faroe Islands
  • Iceland
  • ports on the Baltic Sea
  • the North Sea
  • the Black Sea
  • the Mediterranean Sea

For all other cargo in a container movements you must make a declaration at least 24 hours before they are loaded on to the vessel on which they leave the UK.

For cargo not in a container, at least 2 hours before your good leave the port.


If you’re exporting goods by air, you must submit a declaration at least 30 minutes before departure from a UK airport.


You must make a declaration if you are exporting goods by rail:

  • at least one hour before you arrive at the office of exit when the journey time from the last train station at which the train was formed, to the customs office of exit takes less than 2 hours
  • in all other cases at least 2 hours before the goods leave the UK

What you’ll need

The declaration will need to include:

You also need to provide information like:

  • the departure point and destination
  • the consignee and consignor
  • the type, amount and packaging of your goods
  • the transport methods and costs
  • currencies and valuation methods
  • certificates and licences

How to submit

You can send your declaration online

You can also use commercial software to submit your declaration.

Find out how to complete your declaration if you’re using the Customs Declaration Service.

When you are completing the declaration, you should also read either the:

After you’ve submitted

HMRC will need to be told the goods have left the UK. This is known as a ‘departure message’.

This is done by systems or processes at the point of departure through locations which use:

If you export from another location, you’ll need to report to HMRC when your goods are presented at the UK port of departure and when the goods have left the UK.

To ensure departure messages are sent to HMRC when goods are exported at GVMS locations, you should ensure hauliers:

Without a departure message, your declaration cannot be used as official evidence that goods have been exported. However, exporters can use commercial evidence as proof of export to VAT zero rate goods or discharge a customs special procedure.

If a departure message has not been sent when excise duty suspended goods have been exported, send a C1602 form to tell HMRC the goods have left the UK.

You cannot do this for other types of goods exported without a departure message where:

  • your goods left from a location where GVMS is available

  • inventory facilities and an approved loader are available

Making amendments to your declaration

You can amend your:

  • export declaration before it’s been cleared by customs
  • statistical record up to 3 years after the declaration is cleared, but you need tell to HMRC

Find out how to make an amendment to export declarations for statistical purposes only.

You’ll need to report to HMRC.