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Customs Transit: What is NCTS, and how do business use it?

If you want to move goods through another country other than your own, use NCTS to ensure you don't pay duty or tax

The New Computerised Transit System (NCTS) is a system of electronic declaration and processing that traders must use to submit Common Transit declarations. The NCTS will process the declaration and control the transit movement. It’s used by the UK, all member states of the EU and the signatories of the so-called “Common Transit Convention”. The Common Transit procedure can be used for movements between the UK, the EU and other Common Transit Countries.

What is Common transit?

The common transit procedure is used for the movement of goods between the EU Member States, the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), Turkey (since 1 December 2012), the Republic of North Macedonia (since 1 July 2015) and Serbia (since 1 February 2016). The operation of the common transit procedure with the UK is ensured as the UK has deposited its instrument of accession on 30 January 2019 with the Secretariat of the Council of the EU. The procedure is based on the Convention of 20 May 1987 on a common transit procedure. The rules are effectively identical to those of the EU Union transit.

Convention on Common Transit :

The Convention of 20 May 1987 on a common transit procedure forms the basis for the movement of goods between the twenty-eight EU Member States, the four EFTA countries (Iceland , Norway , Liechtenstein and Switzerland), Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia.


What the EU does: Union transit

The European Union transit procedure is used for customs transit operations between the EU Member States (and Andorra and San Marino) and is in general applicable to the movement of non-Union goods for which customs duties and other charges at import are at stake, and of Union goods, which, between their point of departure and point of destination in the EU, have to pass through the territory of a third country. The rules are set out in the Union Customs Code.

The law on Customs Transit procedures in the Union is laid down in the Union Customs Code (Regulation (EU) No 952/2013), in the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446, in the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2447 and in the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/341, as amended.

How do I use NCTS in the UK?

It is a legal requirement to use the NCTS for all eligible transit declarations.

The NCTS uses a free-to-use web portal. Phase 2 release for departure services is live from/since 8 June 2021. This means GB businesses should complete “Great Britain departure declarations and messages” through this service. In 2021, HMRC has begun to employ a phased roll free-to-use NCTS web portal. In Phase 1, submission of all “Great Britain arrivals and unloading notifications” started to be made through the new service. Since 16 May 2021, the UK has removed access to the legacy arrival’s portal. All messages lodged must be made through the new service. Make sure you use the new arrivals service as soon as possible.

How do I connect to the NCTS web service?

The NCTS web channel is a basic free to use service designed for traders who are low volume users. It will provide the capability of communicating with the NCTS. NCTS web service is accessed via the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) portal on the internet. NCTS web can be used by any authorised employee or representative of any company that has a current Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number registered with HMRC and whose postcode associated with that EORI is in the UK.

To use NCTS and transit goods you’ll need:

— an EORI number

— your business address

— a guarantee

— Trader Identification Number

To use the online service, you’ll need:

— A government gateway ID, you can register for one the first time you access the system

— access to a computer that can download and print Adobe Acrobat PDF documents

— a good quality printer that can print barcodes so you can print your Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) and List of Items

— specific settings enabled on your internet browser

You can use transit simplified procedures when moving goods under transit. Find out more about transit simplified procedures.

NCTS web channel

How to submit

When you enter a transit declaration into the NCTS an electronic message is sent to the customs office of departure.

If your declaration is accepted, the system will allocate a movement reference number. The Anticipated Arrival Record message is sent by the office of departure to the destination customs office.

After you’ve submitted

Your consignments must travel with a Transit Accompanying Document (TAD). The TAD includes your consignment’s Movement Reference Number – printed in numeric form and as a barcode. You must be able to print barcodes to the ISO code 128 standard, rather than EAN 128.

Goods moving under the transit procedure must be accompanied by a TAD for presentation at the destination or in case the goods are diverted, or there are any incidents during transit.

The TAD can be printed out at the customs office of departure or, if your printer can accommodate barcodes, at your own premises. TADs are authenticated by the system and do not need to be stamped by customs.

When your goods arrive at the destination country, it’s important that the TAD is presented to customs at the office of destination, so they can inform the NCTS that the goods have arrived.

EU Transit Manual

The EU Transit Manual is the most comprehensive source of information on the Union and the common transit procedure. As such, the manual is a tool to promote a better understanding of how the transit procedure works and the roles of the various participants. It is also a tool to better ensure a harmonised application of the transit provisions and an equal treatment of all operators.


Supplement to the Transit Manual for the UK

Transit_Manual_Supplement by HMRC and Cu
Download • 858KB

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