Import declarations are required for EU goods entering the UK

  • Imports controls will be implemented in stages (from January 2021, October 2021, January 2022 and March 2022) 
  • Import declarations are submitted to CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight), which records the movement of goods by land, air and sea. Importers, exporters and freight forwarders can complete customs formalities electronically. 



Temporary Storage Model

  • RoRo (Roll on Roll off) locations usually have limited space and facilities to effectively operate a temporary storage model.
  • Temporary Storage is primarily used at most airports and seaports to handle rest of world (RoW) imports. 
  • Goods are usually unloaded on arrival then moved into an ITSF and and electronic inventory record is created. 

Pre-Lodgement Storage

  • Goods must be declared / an import declaration must be submitted for all goods before the vehicle leaves the EU. 
  • Declarations are submitted pre-lodged (i.e. the third character of Box 1 declaration type is one of D, F or H).
  • The declarant has until the end of the next working day to update the declaration status on CHIEF (e.g. changing box 1 from IMD to IMA), to indicate the goods have arrived in the UK. 

Traders of normal  (non-controlled) goods can submit supplementary declarations to delay their import declarations for up to 6 months after import – only if these goods will be circulating freely in the UK.

  • This option is available for imports arriving in the UK until 1st January 2022.


  • Traders with a GB EROI number will automatically be authorised to use this service by HMRC (No application is required).
  • Traders without a GB EROI number will not be automatically authorised but contacted by HMRC in advance.

If you are a trader of controlled goods, you do not have the option to delay declarations and must declare their goods at the frontier.


  • Submit supplementary declarations (within 6 months of import) to cover the goods. The date of import is listed as the tax point date on the supplementary declaration.
  • Keep details of the imported goods in their commercial records, commonly known as an Entry in Declarant’s Records (EIDR).


  • To submit a supplementary declaration, the trader (or intermediary) must be authorised for Simplified Customs Declaration process including either:
    • Entry In Declarant’s Records (EIDR) or,
    • Simplified Declaration Procedure (SDP) and have a Duty Deferment Account.

Postponed VAT Accounting (PVA) enables traders to account for the VAT on their normal VAT return – instead of paying VAT when the goods arrive at the port of entry. 

  • Postponed VAT Accounting will help importers avoid cash flow issues.
  • This system can be used by traders (importer or consignee) who are deferring their import declarations, OR traders who wish to make import declarations at the frontier when the goods arrive.
    • Check with the importer or consignee before you request PVA on a frontier import declaration.

A new MoP code of ‘G’ has been introduced to indicate this on your declaration. 


Traders may also move goods into the UK customs territory through the Common Transit Convention (CTC). 

  • A Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) must be presented with the goods at an office of transit when transit movements arrive in the UK. 
  • Traders may also complete this digitally, through the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS).
  • Traders who move goods under transit into the UK, do not need to submit pre-lodged import declarations.
    • Groupage loads would benefit from this, as some data needed to submit an import declaration is not always available in time. 
  • Hauliers must submit their Transit MRNs (Movement Reference Numbers) and the registrations of the vehicle/ trailer registrations via the GVMS before checking in at the EU port of departure.  
  • The information will be assessed while the goods make the channel crossing from the EU to UK.
  • The individual in control of the goods will be informed whether they can continue their journey or if the goods require a check. 
  • Some ports are also still using a paper-based Office of Transit – hauliers should present their goods and Transit Accompanying Documents (TAD) to customs officials when they arrive at the UK port. 


New processes and procedures for imports of the following goods:

  • Animal products (including fishery products and live bivalve molluscs)
  • High-risk food and feed not of animal origin
  • Live animals (including live aquatic animals for aquaculture and ornamental purposes and equines)
  • Plants and plant products

A full list of goods subject to Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) can be found here.

When importing these goods from the EU to the UK, the following controls will be introduced:

  • Import pre-notifications and health certification (i.e an Export Health Certificate or Phytosanitary Certificate). These documents will then be checked at a Border Control Post from January 2022.
  • Identity and physical checks will be conducted either at the goods destination or other approved premises for certain goods i.e high-risk animals.
  • (From January 2022) Goods must enter the UK through a point of entry which has the necessary Border Control Post (BCP).
  • (From January 2022) identity and physical checks will be carried out at Border Control Posts BCPs. For live animals and plants checks at  Border Control Posts wont occur until March 2022


Import Pre-Notification

  • As an importer, you will need to submit details of your consignment in a standardised import notification form in advance to the relevant regulatory body for your good.
  • Details of the consignment should include:
    • Country of origin, destination point, details of the specific species or product for the importer, exporter and transporter.
  • IPAFFS (Import of Products Animals Food and Feed System) will be used by importers to pre-notify SPS imports.

Health Certification (e.g Export Health Certificate or Phytosanitary Certificate)

  • This document should confirm that your product complies with the health requirements of your destination country.
  • The exporter must obtain this document from the country of origin’s relevant authority.
    • Live animals will require inspection from an official veterinarian.
  • Various details must be given from the exporter about the consignment, including; country of origin, destination point, transport and a health evidence of the consignment.
  • For live animals and products of animal origin, an inspection by an Official Veterinarian is required to confirm that they comply with the UK health requirements.
    • Individual health certificates are needed for each species, type of product and destination. This means that one import may be comprised of multiple consignment, all with different health certificates.
  • EHCO (Export Health Certificate Online) service will enable exporters to complete export health certificate (EHC) and phytosanitary certificate (PC) forms online (replacing the RoW EHC process).

Document, Identity and Physical Checks 

  • Official certifications, evidence and commercial documents will be examined at the border or inland and must accompany the consignment at all times.
  • Identify checks will ensure the content and labelling complies with the information stated in accompanying documentation.
  • A physical check will ensure your goods comply with the UK import SPS requirements, a physical check will be conducted. E.g temperature sampling, laboratory testing, animal health checks, labelling and packaging.

    Additional import requirements will apply to the following commodities:

    • Animal By-Products (ABP) not intended for human consumption.
    • Products of Animal Origin (POAO).
    • Fishery products and live bivalve molluscs.
    • Live aquatic animals for aquaculture and ornamental purposes.
    • High-Risk Food and Feed Not of Animal Origin (HRFNAO)
    • Live Animals and Germinal Products
    • Equines
    • Plants and Plant Products.


    FROM OCTOBER 2021:




    On 1st October 2021, the next phase of UK import controls will be introduced on EU goods entering the UK. The core import procedures implemented in January 2021 will remain unchanged. 

    • New import procedures will impact exporters of products of animal origin, such as meat, dairy, fish and composite goods which include products of animal origin, regulated plants and plant products.

    Importing the following goods from the EU into the UK are now subject to additional Sanitary and Phytosanitary controls (2.2.3)  


    • Must be accompanied by an Export Health Certificate (EHS)  
    • Remote documentary checks will be conducted where certificates (EHC) and commercial documents will be examined. 
    • Importers must submit a pre-notification prior to the good’s arrival via IPAFFS to the UK authorities. 


    • Imports of marine-caught fish and some shellfish will require a catch certificate – but non-marine-caught fish (such as, shellfish or freshwater fish) and some marine species such as mussels or oysters) do not need a catch certificate. 
    • Importing fish as live animals and animal products will require:  
    • Export Health Certificate (EHC) 
    • Import pre-notifications submitted by the importer prior to the goods arrival. 


    • Importers must submit a pre-notification prior to the goods’ arrival via IPAFFS to the UK authorities. 
    • Some regulated plants (including apples, lettuce, and solanaceous fruits such as tomatoes, aubergines) need to meet the phytosanitary controls and be accompanied with a Phytosanitary Certificate. 


    • Some regulated plants and plant products include plants for planting, some seeds, grains and cut flowers, leafy and root vegetables. 
    • Goods must be accompanied with a phytosanitary certificate. The EU exporter must apply for a phytosanitary certificate from the relevant competent authority in the EU country of origin. The UK importer will need this before the goods departure, in order to complete the pre-notification. 
    • UK importer must submit a pre-notification via IPAFFS to the UK authorities, four hours prior to arrival by air or one working day by other transport modes. 
    • Plant Health and Seed Inspectors (PHSI) from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Forestry Commission (FC) will conduct documentary, identity and physical inspection checks either at or away from the border.


    FROM JANUARY 2022:

    •  A Safety and Security Declaration (SSD) assesses the potential risk goods may cause by crossing into UK territory.
    • Goods entering the UK from the EU will require an Entry Summary Declarations (ENS) completed by the carrier.
      • For Air, Rail and Sea goods –  the shipping company, rail freight operator or airline is the carrier.
      • For accompanied RoRo goods – the haulier is the carrier.
      • For unaccompanied RoRo goods – the ferry operator is the carrier.

    Register here to submit an Entry Summary Declaration.

    * No Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) for goods imported into the UK from the EU between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021 is required.



    Importer’s can no longer use the deferred declaration scheme, where supplementary declarations were submitted to UK authorities up to six months after the goods were imported.


     New requirements for low risk plants and plant products:

    • Low risk plants and plant products now require import pre-notification and documentary checks, including phyto-sanitary certificates.

    Point of Entry through a Border Control Post (BCP):

    • Certain goods must enter the UK at a certain entry point to conduct necessary checks on animals, plants and their originating products.
    • A BCP is an inspection post where imports are checked against regulations and their accompanying documentation. Each BCP is set-up to process different goods.
    • As an importer or exporter, you must ensure that your goods travel through the entry point with the correct BCP for your goods.
    • Importers should inform the correct BCP of the arriving consignments prior to their arrival using the pre-notification procedure.
    • POAO, certain ABP and HRFNAO now require physical SPS checks. These checks will now take place at Border Control Posts.
    • High risk plants now require physical SPS checks at Border Control Posts, instead of at their destination point.



    FROM MARCH 2022:




    New requirements for animals, low risk plants and plant products:

    • Live animals, low risk plants and plant products will now be checked at Border Control Posts. 


    The information provided on this page does not constitute legal advice and is subject to change in line with government rules and laws. While BritCham will endeavour to keep the information on these pages as current as possible, we advise you to seek expert independent legal advice an any matters relevant to your situation.