Customs procedures when transporting goods by road

Trader registration, VAT and other customs systems

Customs procedures are not the only rules with which you will have to comply when transporting goods by road.

You may want to refer to the following guides to make sure you are complying with all your duties as an international trader moving some or all of your goods by road.

Firstly you need to be registered for the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) Scheme. If you don't as yet have an EORI trader number, or do have one but want to take it to the AEO level, see our section on EORI and Authorised Economic Operators.

VAT rules and how they affect you, will depend on whether you are acquiring goods from the EU, dispatching them to another member state, or importing or exporting from or to a third country.

National Export System (NES)

If you're exporting goods out of the UK to a third country destination, you will need to make an electronic export declaration via the NES. The NES is a computerised process operated by HMRC for electronically capturing export declarations at all stages of the export process. Export declarations can be submitted either directly by the exporter or through a third party such as a freight forwarding agent - at any time before the export of the goods.

All export declarations should be submitted to CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight). The NES procedure is particularly important for exporters of goods subject to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) control and which qualify for export refund payments. Under the NES, there are also simplified and local export procedures.

See our guide on export declarations and the National Export System.

Export Declarations

The export declaration is normally submitted to customs electronically online by the importer or exporter of the goods, or by an agent acting on their behalf. For indirect exports (ie those leaving the EU via another member state) a paper Export Accompanying Document with Movement Reference Number (MRN) and bar code should accompany the goods to the customs Office of Exit from the EU.

If you're importing goods into the EU, you may want to consider using the voluntary Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP). CFSP enables:

  • faster processing and release of imported third-country goods at the point of entry
  • the use of simpler customs declarations
  • cash flow benefits

Most third-country goods are eligible for CFSP - seeĀ Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP).

Special requirements apply if you trade in excise goods - alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products, or energy products - seeĀ excise duties.