Making a full import declaration


Last updated 1 February 2024

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

When to submit a declaration

Locations where you need to submit a declaration before the goods board

You need to make a full import declaration before your goods board:

If you’re using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, your declaration will usually be marked as ‘arrived’ automatically on the system when your goods are imported. If the status has not been automatically updated you’ll need to manually arrive your goods in the UK.

If you are moving goods that need an import declaration from Northern Ireland to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), you need to update the status of your full import declaration to ‘arrived’ on the system by 11:59pm on the working day after the day your goods arrived in Great Britain.

When to submit a declaration at other locations

If a temporary storage declaration has been made for the goods, the full import declaration must be made within 90 days of your goods being presented to customs.

If your goods are arriving at a location without temporary storage facilities, the full import declaration must be made by the timescale set by the operator of that location.

Choosing to make an early declaration

You may be able to make a declaration up to 30 days before the arrival of your goods, but it will only be formally accepted when they have actually arrived and been presented to customs.

Check what you must do if you’re moving goods into the UK under the Common Transit Convention through a Goods Vehicle Movement Service location.

What you’ll need

The declaration will need to include:

  • the customs procedure code
  • the commodity code
  • your declaration unique consignment reference, which is the main reference number that links declarations in the Customs Declaration Service

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 will need to use software that can submit declarations.

Find out which Data Elements you need to complete on the declaration using the Customs Declaration Service.

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

You’ll be sent a message through CHIEF or the Customs Declaration Service when customs have cleared your goods.

After you submit

When the declaration is accepted, we will tell you how much you owe.

You need to pay duty before your goods can be released. You can check how to pay duties and VAT on imports.

If you’re using a duty deferment account, you should check when you must pay duties and import VAT that you have deferred.

You may be asked to send supporting documents for a customs check to clear your goods. Find out about clearing goods entering, leaving or transiting the UK.

Amend or cancel a declaration

Find out what to do if you need to amend or cancel a declaration.

If you do not pay the right amount

Find out what to do if you underpay import or export duties and who is responsible for the debt.

If you have overpaid customs duty, you can apply for a refund. Find out about refunds and waivers on customs debt by HMRC.

First published 5 November 2019