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Transit: Planing your route compliantly

Plan the route your goods will be taking so that you can make your transit declaration. Then - make sure you take that route, argues Arne Mielken of Customs Manager Ltd.


Using transit is a cost-effective way to move goods around Europe. It can improve lead times, allow for uninterrupted movement of the goods, reduces risk of congestion at borders by shifting controls inland and departure and destination offices.


Transit is a customs procedure allowing goods to be moved through multiple territories:

  • under duty suspension

  • without completing customs declarations each time

What's best, import declarations only required once goods reach end-destination and released from transit procedures.


The traditional transit movement can look a little like this:

So there are a lot of steps to carefully consider. For full support, check out the transit step-by-step guide: www.customsmanager.org/transit and the dedicated categories in the expert blog: https://www.customsmanager.org/customs-global-trade-blog/categories/transit


Learning about the Transit Offices that matter

There are three types of transit office along your route:

  • Office of Departure

  • Office of Transit

  • Office of Destination

We will now look at the key roles and responsibilities of each of these transit offices


The office of departure

  • Receives the transit declaration electronically

  • Can accept or reject the declaration

  • Can exercise ‘control’ of the declaration – goods and documents

  • Complete checks on the transit guarantee

  • Can set restrictions – rout to be used, or time limit for the transit

If satisfied, release transit movement – automatic notifications to the office of the destination (and any office of transit)


The office of transit

  • Applies if the goods leave and re-enter the EU during the transit movement

  • Automatically receives a pre-arrival message – ATR

  • Applies risk-based controls – can raise enquiries on the movement

If not satisfied, allows the movement ‘turned back’ or ‘stopped’ at the office


The office of destination

  • Automatically receives a pre-arrival message – AAR

  • Can accept or reject the declaration

  • Can exercise ‘control’ of the declaration – applies to goods and documents – includes discrepancies at destination, incidents in transit, movements diverted to different destination etc

  • Records control results – including raising queries which may delay release of the goods

  • If satisfied, movements is released and office of departure automatically notified (allows ‘release’ of any guarantee provided)


Check the locations of Common Transit offices, including Offices of Transit, Destination and Departure that may be in your route. For example, in the UK:

Example of UK-Offices-Community-and-Comm
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Download • 137KB

In the EU, your can find your office using this link:


Locations providing Offices of Transit digitally

Sometimes, offices of transit are not physical locations, but digital ones, using the electronic system as a "digital" office of transit. In the UK, for example, for smaller ports. there are border locations using the UK's e-service known as the Goods Vehicle Movement Service to support Offices of Transit.


The UK's Goods Vehicle Movement Service

If you need to go to an office of transit in the UK, you should check how to move goods through ports that use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service. Lodging in the GVMS system can act as notifying the office of transit (check requirements). In the UK, the ports that use that are, for example (check for latest updates and changes):

  • Belfast

  • Dover

  • Eurotunnel

  • Felixstowe (DFDS movements only)

  • Fishguard

  • Harwich (Stena movements only)

  • Heysham (Stena, Seatrucks movements only)

  • Holyhead

  • Immingham (DFDS movements only)

  • Killingholme

  • Larne

  • Liverpool (P&O, Stena, Seatrucks movements only)

  • Newhaven

  • Pembroke

  • Port of Cairnryan

  • Port of Loch Ryan

  • Port of Tyne (DFDS movements only)

  • Portsmouth (Condor Ferries movements only)

  • Purfleet

  • Warrenpoint


Plan your route

You need to plan the route your goods will take and choose the:

  • office of departure or authorised consignor where your transit movement will start

  • offices of transit where your goods will enter into any other customs areas

  • office of destination or authorised consignee where your goods will end their transit

Where you can start your movement

When you move goods under transit the movement must be started at either:


  • an office of departure

  • the premises of an authorised consignor (your own or an agent’s premises)

If you or your agent are not able to start the movement at your own premises, then you will either need to take the goods to an office of departure to start the movement, or your haulier will need to do this before the goods can leave the your country.


Most offices of departure are located at or near border crossings, so you may be able to start your movement at the port or airport where your goods are leaving the UK. However, you will need to check in advance whether the border crossing your haulier intends to use does offer an office of departure which you can use to start the movement.


If they do not, then you will need to start the movement somewhere else before your haulier proceeds to the border.


You will need to declare which office of departure or authorised consignor location you will be starting your movement from when you make your transit declaration.


Find your office(s) of transit, declare them and go there!

When you move your goods into a different customs territory, you must present the goods to an office of transit before you can enter the territory.


This means that you will need to check that

  • the border crossing you are using to enter the customs territory offers an office of transit and

  • whether there are any specific location requirements that you or your haulier will need to follow on entry.

When you make your transit declaration you will need to include the offices of transit based on your planned route. Y


ou must tell the haulier to present your goods with all accompanying documents to each office of transit listed on the transit declaration.


Diverted? What to do

If your haulier diverts from the intended route and enters a customs area using an office of transit other than the one included in the declaration, then in most cases the office of transit will still be able to process the movement and allow entry. However, if you set prescribed itinerary restrictions on the original declaration, then the haulier must use the offices of transit that have been declared.


Just going between the EU countries?

You do not need to go to an office of transit when your goods cross the borders between EU countries.


A word on TIR

If your goods are going by road to, or through, a country that is not covered by common and Union transit you may be able to use TIR to move your goods. You can use TIR to send goods by road to or through countries covered by the TIR convention.


If you are moving goods using TIR then you must present your TIR Carnet to customs offices on both entry and exit of each customs area. This means that your TIR carnet must be stamped by customs officials on both sides of the border.


Ending your movement

When you move goods under transit the movement must be ended at either:


  • an office of destination

  • the premises of an authorised consignee (your own or an agent’s premises)

If you or your agent are not able to end the movement at your own premises, then you or your haulier will need to take the goods to an office of destination to end the movement before the goods can be released into free circulation or another customs process.


If you are moving goods using TIR, then although you may be able to take your goods to authorised consignee premises, you will still need to present your TIR Carnet at the government office of destination within an agreed time limit.


Most offices of destinations are located at or near border crossings, so you may be able to end your movement at the port or airport where your goods enter the country of destination.


However, you will need to check in advance whether the border crossing your haulier intends to use does offer an office of destination which you can use to end the movement.


If they do not, then you will need to end the movement somewhere else before you will be able to release your goods.


You will need to declare which office of destination or authorised consignee location you will be ending your movement from when you make your transit declaration.


Get more information

The transit manual and transit manual supplement contain more information on TIR, common and Union transit.



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