MOVING GOODS FROM GB TO THE EU – GENERAL PROCESS

Information into export procedures for hauliers moving goods from GB to the EU, outlining procedures for customs, GVMS, transit, Ro-Ro, inventory-linked ports, the smart border system in France, and processes for entering the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Ireland

As of 1 January 2022, full export controls and checks are in place for movements to the EU and border locations will need processes to control goods for export.

This means that goods must be presented to customs before they reach the frontier or at the frontier.


They must not be exported without permission and a message must be sent after their departure.


Border locations can use different systems to fulfil their exports obligations, there is no specific system mandated for the export process.


Examples of systems that are commonly used are the:

  • Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) – hauliers will need GVMS to link export declaration references together into one single Goods Movement Reference (GMR), the driver will present the GMR at the port or terminal of exit and the carrier will be responsible for capturing and validating the GMR at check-in

  • Inventory-linked Systems – declarations will be pre-lodged by the declarants, hauliers will then move the goods to the border location where they will be arrived and presented. If any checks are required, this will take place within the border location’s approved premises


Only goods moving via specified locations, identified as having space constraints and where modified export controls apply, are able to submit an arrived declaration.


You can check locations where export declaration need to be submitted as arrived.


The new procedures are outlined in the exports section of the Border Operating Model.


List of ports using the GVMS.

Register for the GVMS.


Preparing for export from GB: customs documents and procedures that hauliers need to know


The hauliers need to determine if the goods would be exported through a location using the GVMS for export controls and if the port is one with limited space where arrived export declarations should be used.


Further information on the different processes can be found in the exports section of the Border Operating Model and how to export goods from the UK.


If the goods are not moving under transit, the exporter/agent/freight forwarder should provide the haulier with all customs documents for the pre-lodged import declarations for the member state the haulier is crossing the border to.


Inventory-linked ports

For inventory linked ports, including all unaccompanied freight, the trailer operator must provide the Unique Consignment Number (UCN), provided by the exporter, in order to leave the goods at the port and have them accepted.

Note: For inventory linked ports, the EU import detail may not yet be known. It may be that there is no information for the driver about the EU import at the time of export. The exporter/loader needs to clarify to the driver/trailer operator what the EU member state requirements are. If this information is shared digitally, the driver does not necessarily have it (or they often pick up a copy upon arrival on the EU side).


Hauliers must continue to create a goods movement reference (GMR) for empty loads or loads with multiple import or export declarations.

GVMS border locations


If exiting GB using locations using the GVMS to control goods, hauliers will need to:

  • ask the exporter or agent to provide the correct references for each consignment carried

  • link all these references together into 1 GMR for each vehicle movement (inclusion of any safety and security declaration MRN is an optional extra step) – references can be linked in 2 ways:

    • a direct link from the haulier’s own system into the GVMS; or

    • an online portal available in the haulier’s Government Gateway account

  • for each vehicle, update the GMR with the correct vehicle registration number (VRN) – this can be updated to cater for any changes but must be correct when the GMR is presented to the carrier at the point of departure

  • instruct drivers not to proceed to the border before all the necessary references are added into a GMR to make it complete, or if any declaration reference has not been accepted onto the GMR, as they will not be allowed to board

  • instruct drivers to present the GMR to the ferry operator/Eurotunnel on arrival at the point of departure to demonstrate they have the necessary evidence to legally move goods

If exiting through an arrived export location:

  1. The haulier will need to enter all export declaration references (DUCRs) associated with the vehicle movement into the GMR. GVMS will validate each DUCR and confirm whether the goods have Permission to Proceed (P2P) or whether there are any outstanding controls.

  2. The haulier will then need to check with their declarant on what checks need to happen. Some checks can be completed at the trader’s premises, while others will require attending an Inland Border Facility or at the port’s designated customs checking facility.

  3. Drivers must not proceed to the point of exit until all DUCRs have P2P status and the GMRs have been validated.

  4. At the point of exit the driver will present the GMR to the carrier and the carrier will validate the GMR at check-in. GVMS will reject the check-in attempt unless all the DUCRs in the GMR have been arrived, in which case the vehicle will be turned away from check-in.


Before you exit GB

If exiting through an arrived export location, once the declaration is submitted, the declarant will be informed if their document or goods need to be checked.


If a physical examination is required, the declarant will need to tell the haulier present the goods at the nearest Inland Border Facility for goods leaving Dover, Holyhead or Eurotunnel or the port for goods leaving Liverpool, Heysham, Milford Haven/Pembroke or Fishguard.


For accompanied RoRo freight, the driver must have all necessary reference numbers or documents to meet the import requirements of the country they are entering in the EU. It is the responsibility of the GB exporter (with their customs agent and/or logistics provider) to ensure this is done, unless they have agreed another party will take responsibility for this as part of their incoterms.


You may need to submit an EXS declaration, see section 3.


At the EU border


The driver must follow the EU member states’ import and border requirements for the country they are entering. Further country specific information for the main EU member states for RoRo freight is set out below.


Moving goods through the short straits – GB to France


France has implemented a smart border system for processing freight using both the ferry and Eurotunnel crossings. It pairs customs declaration data with the vehicle registration number transporting the consignment(s).


They have also produced substantial guidance and comms. At check-in at the Port of Dover ferry terminals or at the ‘pitstop’ at Eurotunnel’s Cheriton terminal, the driver will hand in the MRN(s) from the transit or French import declaration. The MRN will be scanned and matched with the Vehicle Registration Number (VRN) or Trailer Registration Number (TRN) - trailers are at Dover only.


Note: The process for sending data can also be done digitally on the Eurotunnel portal or via electronic data interchange (EDI). That generates a Eurotunnel Border Pass (EBP) with which the driver does not need to show any paperwork at the pitstop but can continue on this reference.


For consignments from multiple traders, either the exporter or the driver can scan all the barcodes from the separate documents, using the Enveloppe website. This will create an MRN envelope. The driver will then only need to present 1 single MRN from the load they are carrying.


This data is analysed by the French customs system while the driver and consignment(s) are on the ferry or shuttle train crossing the Channel. It allows HGVs or LGVs to be pre-selected for further customs and/or sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls.


The driver will be informed en route – via screens on board the driver carriage at Eurotunnel or in the drivers lounges on the ferries if:

  • they can proceed – they will be ‘green routed’

  • they need to present to goods for customs and/or SPS – either ‘Orange-douane’ or ‘Orange-SIVEP’

  • there are any problems which need to be addressed before they can continue their journey - they will be ‘Orange-routed’


On disembarkation of the ferry or shuttle service, if selected for a control (i.e. orange routed), it is the driver’s responsibility to follow that guidance – if they ignore the routing, they could face penalties. Also, to note, that there may also be selections from green routed trucks to check compliance.


Safety and security declarations for entry into France


For freight from GB, ENS declarations must be submitted into the French Import Control System (ICS) before crossing the EU border. Submission can only be made by EDI using certified software (or web portals).


For accompanied freight, the haulier makes the ENS declaration entry into the French ICS.


For unaccompanied freight, the ferry operator makes the ENS declaration entry into the French ICS.


Compliance regimes in France (customs and SPS)


If you are selected for a control on entry to France, either for customs or SPS or both, you must follow the orange routing signage (for either customs or SPS) to attend the facility.


If you are selected for an SPS control (SIVEP), you must seek help from a ‘commis’ service (for ferries) or Eurotunnel operatives (for Eurotunnel) to unload, load and present your consignments and to the administrations


Moving goods through Dutch ports – GB to continental Europe


The Netherlands logistics industry has advice on how to pass through Dutch ports. This will help freight and logistics operators with the various formalities involved in UK-Dutch transportation of goods. The import can only be created once the manifest is submitted to Dutch customs, a process that happens once the ferry has left GB.


If there is a transit starting from GB side the ferry line will report this to customs via Portbase.


Safety and security declarations for entry into the Netherlands


The ENS data for the safety and security declarations are submitted at the time of booking the crossing. The transmission of the ENS declaration is always completed by the carrier (i.e. the ferry operator) for both accompanied and unaccompanied freight when the ferry departs via Portbase into the Netherlands ICS.

Moving goods through Belgian ports

The majority of RoRo freight via the port of Zeebrugge is currently unaccompanied. There are 5 steps. The haulier normally has a role in step 3 and step 5.

  1. The UK trailer operator or person booking the crossing supplies the shipping company with the ENS data at the time of booking and gives it to the shipping company.

  2. The Ferry Operator does the ENS declaration to customs at the same time as doing the temporary storage declaration to customs.

  3. The terminal operator produces a discharge notice to the importer, forwarder, customs agent or haulier.

  4. The customs representative does a follow up declaration to customs.

  5. The terminal operator issues a cargo release to the haulier for them to pick the goods up.


The RX/Seaport digital system joins up the data submitted and required by all parties at the Port of Zeebrugge. The data is registered for imports and exports through their e-Desk. This can be done manually, through a linked data connection or through customs software.

Drivers will not be allowed to leave the terminal if discharge notice is not given and the cargo released (on arrival in Zeebrugge) nor can they proceed to the Zeebrugge Terminal if customs declarations have not been pre-notified through the RX/SeaPort e-Desk.


RX/SeaPort has detailed information about importing and exporting through the Port of Zeebrugge.


At Antwerp the pre-notification of customs documents is done via the Port Community system of C-point. This pre-notification can be lodged by the exporter, the freight forwarder, customs agent or the haulage company.


C-point has detailed information about customs procedures at Antwerp.


Check with your ferry operator about the use of any IT platform.

Safety and security declarations for entry into Belgium

ENS declarations should be submitted into the import clearance system via an EDI interface to the Paperless Customs and Excises (PLDA) system.

In Belgium the ENS declaration submission is done by the ferry operator or shipping company for both accompanied and unaccompanied freight.


Moving goods through Spanish ports

Hauliers going from GB to Spain should:

  • make or arrange to make the ENS declaration into the Spanish ICS

  • obtain the MRN

  • log into the maritime carrier (Brittany Ferries) system and link the vehicle registration number to the MRN

  • the system checks the first 4 digits of the Integrated Tariff of the European Communities (TARIC) code, number of packages and weight


The data must be sent to the carrier in advance of the HGV arriving at the GB port or the driver must have it with them.


Safety and security declarations for entry into Spain


An ENS declaration must be lodged for all consignments. The ferry operator must be satisfied that this requirement has been met before loading will be authorised.

For accompanied freight, the haulier makes the ENS declaration entry (using EDI only) into the Spanish ICS. This doesn’t rule out the possibility of a private agreement between the ferry operator and the haulier for the ferry operator to make the ENS declaration for accompanied freight.

For unaccompanied freight, the ferry operator makes the ENS declaration entry into the Spanish ICS.

The ferry operator sends the manifest (including references to previous ENS declarations) to the operatives in the Spanish ports. The operatives then send the documents to Aduanas (Spanish customs).


Moving goods through Irish ports

All EU import declarations need to be submitted to the Automated Import System (AIS).


The Irish Revenue Customs RoRo Service provides 3 functions to facilitate the flow of commercial vehicles into and out of Irish ports. The 3 functions are:

  1. Pre-boarding notification – customs declarations should be made in advance of arrival at the port of departure in the UK. The details of safety and security and customs declarations for all goods to be carried on an HGV need to be recorded in the pre-boarding notification (PBN). The PBN is a virtual envelope that links together the details of all the goods being carried on an HGV. The customs authority will provide a single instruction to be followed by the driver on arrival at an Irish port, regardless of the number of consignments on board the vehicle.

  2. Channel look-up (CLU) – hauliers can track the progress of the PBN via the Customs RoRo Service so that they know when to arrive at the terminal. The CLU service provides information on whether an HGV can directly exit the port or if the goods need to be brought to customs for checking. This information will be made available via the Customs RoRo Service 30 minutes prior to arrival of the ferry into Ireland and can be accessed by anyone in the supply chain.

  3. Parking self check-in – drivers whose vehicles have been called for a physical inspection will remain in their vehicle and inform Revenue that the goods are available for inspection using this function. When an examination bay becomes available the driver will receive a text message advising where to attend for inspection.


Using the Customs RoRo Service is a prerequisite to receive the PBN without which access to the ferry will be denied.

Verification and release regimes in Ireland

If issues cannot be resolved goods will be held in temporary storage for a maximum of 90 days.


Holding areas are in place around ports but space is limited. If goods are seized, claims must be made within 1 month and in writing.


Traders must pay a fee to use border control posts (BCP) and an additional fee may be required if notification is not received prior to arrival.

Goods may be refused entry or destroyed if SPS requirements are not met.

Find out about bringing goods into Ireland from GB.


After the Irish border


Once the goods have passed EU customs, if they have not been selected for a control, they can proceed to their destination.


Safety and security declarations for entry into Ireland


There is a legal requirement to submit an electronic customs safety and security declaration in advance of import.

This declaration is called an entry summary (ENS) declaration.


The ENS declaration must be submitted to Irish customs in advance of the goods departing GB.


The carrier is responsible for ensuring that the ENS declaration is submitted. Accordingly, the importer must ensure that the carrier of your goods is aware of their responsibilities for this declaration. Failure to do so will lead to delays.

Find out about the ENS in the Import Control System (ICS) Trader Guide.