Declarations and the Single Administrative Document

Using the Single Administrative Document for imports and exports

Traders moving goods between European countries don't need to complete a Single Administrative Document (SAD). They may complete the form for trade with third countries, as well as to move non-European Union (EU) goods within the EU. In certain circumstances goods may move within the EU under special EU arrangements.

Making an import declaration

You must declare imports of third country goods into the UK by using the information captured on the SAD and sending it electronically to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system. You can complete details on the SAD and arrange for an agent to act for you. Read more about using agents for Single Administrative Document submissions.

If you or your agent has approved access, the data can be inputted direct to CHIEF system.

For goods that are liable for duty, a full declaration to CHIEF or a paper SAD declaration is required.

For duty-free goods, you can use a copy of an approved standard commercial document, such as a commercial invoice or a partly completed SAD.

You can use the SAD to declare your imported goods to customs procedures with economic impact such as:

Special circumstances for submitting a manual SAD

If you're carrying merchandise in your own baggage (MIB), such as goods or samples, you must complete a SAD if your goods are worth more than £873. Enter AI statement code 'MIB01' at Header level in the specified field of box 44. If your MIB exports are valued at less than £873, weigh less than 1,000 kilograms, do not need an export licence, and are not subject to export duty, you can use the MIB low-value goods procedure and supply your commercial invoice or make an electronic declaration instead. You must also complete an SAD for MIB goods if you are entering the goods into IP, OPR or end use.

Trade imports by post

A SAD based declaration is normally necessary on consignments with a value over £2,000 before 1 MAY 2016, and valued at £873 after that date.

The sender must complete a Customs CN23 for goods worth over £270. This should be attached to the posted package. When the goods arrive, you will be sent a C87 'Notice of Arrival of Goods by Post'. It contains the customs reference number for the package. This informs you that your goods have arrived in the UK but cannot be delivered until you have completed and returned the SAD.

Read guidance on postal imports in Notice 143.

Find out how to complete customs documents for your postal imports in Notice 144.

Making an export declaration

For goods moving to countries outside the EU, you must use SAD based information to create an export declaration. You must complete it electronically through the HMRC CHIEF based National Export System (NES). Read more about the UK's import and export processing system CHIEF.

Clearance through the NES is faster and more efficient than the previous manual SAD procedure and there are clear advantages when capturing proof of export and making a VAT zero rating claim to HMRC.

Special circumstances for export SADs

For Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) goods, the standard NES export procedures apply. When systems are down, the completed SAD C88 (CAP) CIE form must be used as additional information is required for CAP export declarations.

SADs can also be used for EFTA countries - Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein - and for the EU's special fiscal territories:

  • Finland's Åland Islands
  • Spain's Canary Islands
  • the UK's Channel Islands
  • the French overseas departments of Guadeloupe
  • French Guiana, Martinique and Reunion
  • Mount Athos in Greece

However, there's a special procedure for trading goods directly between the Channel Islands and the UK. You can find out more about the special conditions which apply to trade between the UK and the Channel Islands. Traders who wish to use NES for dispatches to the Channel Islands can do so. You can find out about NES in our guide to export declarations and the National Export System.

Passengers carrying MIB, such as commercial goods and samples, must list the goods on a SAD and declare them in the UK if they want to reclaim VAT. For MIB declarations, traders must enter AI statement code 'MIB01' at Header level in the specified field of box 44 on the SAD.

For exports by post, international customs declarations are only generally required on goods above a certain amount, although there are exceptions. The value threshold is:

  • £2000, before 1 May 2016
  • £873 on or after 1 May 2016

There's a low-value procedure for goods that:

  • have a total value of less than £873
  • weigh less than 1,000 kilograms
  • aren't liable for duty

The above list refers to the low-value goods procedure only. You should consult Volume 1, Part 10 of the Tariff or the paper copy of the Tariff for additional information.

A declaration can either be made electronically through NES as a CHIEF low-value declaration, a partly completed copy 2 of the SAD, or an approved commercial document.

Email declarations

When systems are down traders are able to submit SAD declarations by fax or by email to the National Clearance Hub (NCH). The email addresses are:

Traders should not mix fax and email declarations with the same reference numbers.