Goods that can be moved between European Union (EU) member states without restriction are described as being in free circulation or Community goods. Imports into the EU are put into free circulation once all the customs duties have been paid on them and import formalities completed. Goods that originate within the EU are in free circulation, unless a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) or Whisky export refund has been claimed on them.
Community goods do not normally require Community Transit (CT) declarations or evidence of Community status to move within the EU. Goods moved directly from one EU member state to another are regarded as Community goods unless there is evidence to suggest otherwise. Non-Community goods must remain under customs control when moved between EU member-states, normally using CT.
Checklist to help confirm the Community status of your goods
|Where are the goods from?||What is their customs status?||Relevant transit status|
|Outside the EU||No duties paid or formalities completed yet||
Non-Community goods - ie not in free circulations and must remain under customs control
|Outside the EU||All duties paid and formalities completed||
Goods in free circulation.
CT is required only if they are to be moved to one of the special territories. Common Transit can be used if the goods are to be moved to or through any European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries.
|Inside the EU, made from materials or parts from outside the EU that were put into free circulation||No duty to pay||
Goods in free circulation
CT is required only if they are to be moved to one of the special territories. Common Transit can be used if the goods are to be moved to or through any EFTA countries.
|Inside the EU made from materials or parts from outside the EU that have not been put into free circulation - eg parts which qualify for Inward Processing||No duty paid||
These parts are non-Community goods - ie not in free circulation and must remain under customs control
The procedure used for moving non-Community goods (ie goods that are not in free circulation) between EU member states is called the external CT procedure, or T1.
The internal CT procedure, or T2, is used to move Community goods:
- to and from the Principality of Andorra - but only for goods of Tariff Chapters 25 to 97 of the Harmonised System (industrial goods)
- to and from San Marino
- to or through EFTA countries
CT is also used to transport goods to and from the 'special territories' of the EU (the Åland Islands, the Canary Islands, the Channel Islands, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mount Athos and Reunion). These movements are handled using the internal CT procedure T2F.
The Common Transit procedure is used for moving goods to, from or between the EFTA countries.
Enforcement and penalties
HMRC is responsible for the enforcement of Community transit legislation. For general help and advice, contact the HMRC VAT Helpline on Tel 0300 200 3700.
Customs civil penalties apply to breaches in the rules and regulations in CT. Traders may receive a warning letter or have to pay a penalty. Read more about customs seizures and penalties.