Customs procedures

Customs Preparation Checklist:

  • Get an EORI number.
  • Find your Commodity Code.
  • Decide to use staged or full import controls.
  • Get the correct customs forms (recommend using a customs specialist) …
  • Check the rules and customs value for your good.
  •  Import and Export Preparations

What is an EORI number?

  • “Economic Operator Registration and Identification” is a registration and identification number issued by the HMRC, allowing businesses to import or export physical goods.
  • EORI Number is 12 digits long. It will start with GB and include your VAT number.
  • Without one you will incur delays and storage costs, as HMRC won’t be able to clear your goods.
  • You won’t need an EORI number to trade with Northern Ireland and Ireland.

How to get an EORI?

  • If you are VAT registered in the UK, you will automatically receive an EORI number.
  • If you are not VAT registered, you won’t receive one automatically but still need one to trade outside of the UK.
  • To apply for an EORI number visit this page:
  • The application takes 5-10 minutes. You should receive the number straight away. If HMRC needs to complete more checks it can take up to 5 days.

What is a Commodity Code?

Will you be using staged or full EU import controls? 

  • From January until June 2021, you can choose to delay the declaration of goods for up to six months after import.
    • This will enable you to defer the payment of customs duties and VAT.
    • Ensure you keep all records of the imported goods.
    • You will need to submit a supplementary declaration to HRMC within six months of the goods import.
    • To complete a supplementary declaration, you need to be authorized for Simplified Declaration Procedure (SDP) and have a Duty Deferment Account.
  • Or you can use existing customs procedures to complete a full declaration when the imported EU goods arrive at the UK border.
    • We recommend using full EU import controls, if you are already making full declarations with the rest of the world.

How do you complete a customs declaration?

A customs declaration is an official document that lists and gives details of goods that are being imported or exported. After 31st December 2020 you will need to make customs declarations if you are:

  • Importing goods into the UK from countries outside of the UK.
  • Exporting goods into the UK from countries outside of the UK.


  • You can complete your own customs declarations:
    • If you are dealing with a high volume of declarations (2000+ per annum), we recommend familiarizing yourself with the relevant softwares, expertise and port connections to complete them yourself.
  • Alternatively you can use an intermediary or customs agent to complete your customs declarations.
    • Finding a customs agent or intermediary should be prioritized due to the shortage of trained customs agents and increasing volume of declarations to prevent delays and fines.
    • Prepare for the transaction costs of declarations. An import declaration will cost around £55, while an export declaration will cost around £25.
    • ChamberCustoms is a customs advisory, training and brokerage service delivered through Chambers of Commerce across the UK.
  • Do you need a Duty Deferment Account ‘DDA’? 
    • If you import goods regularly or represent importers and pay duty on those goods, you can apply for a DDA.
    • A DDA account allows the payment of customs charges (including customs duty, excise duty, and import VAT) to be delayed. Charges can be paid once a month through Direct Debit instead of being paid on individual consignments.
    • You can receive a £10,000 per month DDA to ease cash flow problems.
    • If you do not pay duty on your goods you will not need a DDA.
    • If you already have a DDA of £10,000 or less you will automatically be given a DDA of £10,000.
    • Due to the short application window and high volume of applicants, we recommend applying for a DDA early.
    • Further DDA guidance and the application process can be found here:
  • How do you set up Postponed VAT accounting?
    • Postponed VAT accounting will be available to VAT registered businesses for imports of goods from all countries, including from the EU.
    • This means businesses can account for VAT on the goods they import through their periodic VAT return, rather than paying VAT at the UK border crossing.
    • This will apply from 1st January onwards.
    • Further guidance on how to operate this system be found at:

Are your goods controlled (drugs, plant life) or excise (wine, spirits, chemicals)? 

Controlled Goods

If you are moving controlled goods, you will need to:

  • Complete a full customs declaration
    • (You cannot delay the declaration of controlled goods)
  • Ensure you have the correct licensing requirements.

Can I use Simplified Customs Declarations?

  • Using simplified processes will result in fewer requirements at the UK border, although additional customs information will still be required at a later date via a supplementary declaration.
  • You will need authorization to use these processes. You will need to demonstrate a good compliance record (i.e maintaining customs records)

Decide which Simplified Customs Declarations you will be using: