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UK: Full Border Controls - Actions your business must take now

(FREE) Full customs controls are now in place in Great Britain. Explore what this means for businesses.

HMRC reminds businesses that full customs controls between the EU (except Ireland) and Great Britain (GB) are now in effect. See important links to official sources below.

Actions to take now if you trade with the UK

  • check that your trading partner in the UK is ready for the changes to rules for importing goods into the UK from the EU

  • check that your haulier, or the person driving your goods, is ready for checks at the border - this haulier handbook sets out what your haulier needs to do. It is important that you agree on the commercial terms and conditions with your haulier, and that they have the correct paperwork in place.

Other actions to consider:

  • check if you need to register as a UK established business

  • get set up to make UK Customs Declarations if you need to

  • check if you need to register for VAT in the UK, in order to account for import VAT

  • make sure you provide a supplier declaration with any goods you’re sending to a GB customer who wants to claim the preferential tariff

  • make sure your haulier has a valid Goods Movement Reference if you’re moving goods through border locations that use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS)

Registration as a UK established business

The terms and conditions that you’ve agreed with your customer should include details of who is responsible for making UK customs declarations. If you are responsible, you can choose to either:

Find out more information on overseas companies registered in the UK.

Requirements to make a customs declaration

If you’re responsible for making customs declarations, get set up to make UK Customs Declarations if you need to

  • Get an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number which starts with GB.

  • You can find out more information on the other steps you need to take to get ready for making customs declarations for importing and exporting on with our guides on Customs Manager Ltd.

  • Check if you need to register for VAT in the UK, in order to account for import VAT

This may apply if you are sending goods to consumers in Great Britain or if you are moving goods to Great Britain for your own business.

Registration for VAT

If you supply goods in consignments valued at £135 or less directly to consumers in Great Britain, you may be required to register for VAT in the UK. Normal customs rules apply when supplying goods in consignments valued above £135 to customers in Great Britain.  

If you are moving goods for your own business, you should register for VAT in the UK as a non-established taxable person (NETP).   This means that you can account for import VAT (and other duties) yourself on any goods you retain ownership of when they arrive in Great Britain.

You will need to follow the normal procedures for accounting for import VAT and may choose to account for the import VAT on your VAT return.

If you register your EU business as an NETP then you will need to complete a VAT return.    If your business has an establishment in the UK, you may be entitled to register for VAT as a domestic business rather than an overseas seller or NETP. Guidance on this can be found here: Who should register for VAT (VAT Notice 700/1)

If you intend to collect import duties, including import VAT, at the point of sale you will need to follow the Customs rules. Guidance on this can be found here:

  • VAT guide (VAT Notice 700) (Section 5)

  • Paying VAT on imports from outside the UK to Great Britain and from outside the EU to Northern Ireland

  • Notice 143: a guide for international post users

Claim preferential tariffs

Make sure you provide a supplier declaration with any goods you’re sending to a GB customer who wants to claim the preferential tariff.

The UK’s deal with the EU, called the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), means that the goods you import or export may benefit from a reduced rate of Customs Duty (tariff preference). To use this, you need proof that the goods you:

  • export from the EU originate there

  • import to the EU from the UK originate in the UK

By ‘originate’ we mean where goods (or the materials, parts or ingredients used to make them) have been produced or manufactured. It is not where the goods have been shipped or bought from. Your goods will need to meet the product specific rules of origin requirements set out in the TCA. To claim tariff preference you need to have one of the following proofs of origin:

  • a statement on origin – this must be made out by the exporter to confirm that the product originates in the UK or EU

  • the importer’s knowledge – this option allows the importer to claim tariff preference based on their own knowledge of where the goods they’re importing originate from

Your UK customers’ supplier declarations might be checked, so please make sure that you’re providing them at the time you send the goods. Find out more about making supplier declarations. If your UK based customer asks you to provide a Statement on Origin, you will need to have evidence that the goods meet the rules of origin.

If the goods you export from the EU do not originate there but have been processed there to some extent, the EU processing can count towards Bilateral Cumulation in Great Britain if you provide a Supplier Declaration for Non-Originating goods.

Northern Ireland

They would also like to remind businesses that the customs arrangements in place throughout 2021 for goods moving from Ireland and Northern Ireland (NI) to GB have been extended for as long as discussions between the UK and EU on the operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) are ongoing.

2022 Changes If you move goods into or out of Northern Ireland, we at Customs Manager can guide you through the process.

The changes that came into force on 1 January 2022 include:

  • requirement for full customs import declarations for all goods at the time you or your courier/freight forwarder bring them into GB, except if they are non-controlled goods imported from Ireland to GB

  • customs controls at all ports and other border locations. Your goods may be directed to an Inland Border Facility (IBF) for documentary or physical checks if these checks cannot be done at the border

  • requirement for a suppliers’ declaration proving the origin of your goods (either UK or EU) if you’re using the zero tariffs agreed in the UK’s trade deal with the EU

  • changes to commodity codes, which are used to classify your goods for customs declarations.

Further information explaining these changes and what they mean for you is available in the expert blog and on our YouTube channel.

Important information about completing Customs Import and Export Declarations

Since 1 January 2022, goods exported from GB to the EU and goods imported from the EU to GB (with the exception of goods being imported from the island of Ireland) are subject to full customs controls.


If you’re importing goods, you need to make sure that you (or your agent) have submitted the correct import declaration. If authorised, you or your agent can choose to use simplified procedures for imports. You can consult our dedicated import guide on and our expert blogs dedicated to importing. We also run Importing Essentials training and dedicated CDS training.

Exporting: pre-lodged or arrived If you’re exporting goods, you need to make sure that you (or your agent, like cusotms declaration) have submitted the correct customs export declaration. To avoid delays, check with your haulier what route they are using to move your goods, and whether they need a pre-lodged or arrived export declaration reference from you. We have a dedicated export guide and an export expert blog with lots of articles and useful Tips for successful exporting.

Self filing If you complete your own customs declarations, please be aware that we have published more information on how to submit the correct export declaration, including the codes to use if you use CHIEF or CDS.


Make sure your haulier has a valid Goods Movement Reference if you’re moving goods through border locations that use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS)

If you’re moving goods through border locations that use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) to control goods, your haulier, or you if you’re moving goods yourself, must register in advance for GVMS (this web page is available in 10 European languages) and have a valid Goods Movement Reference to board the vessel. If you don’t, your goods will be delayed.

Please make sure your haulier has all the information they need to include in the Goods Movement Reference before your goods are moved. You can check which declaration references should be entered in a Goods Movement Reference on GOV.UK.

As of 1 January 2022, if your goods move through a port using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), you need to enter 'RRS01' in box 44 for CHIEF or Data Element 2/2 for the Customs Declaration Service. If you do not, GVMS will not be able to validate it on the submitted Goods Movement Reference (GMR). For more details, please refer to the recently published Customs Information Paper 2.

Customs Manager as your customs broker However, if like most traders you use a customs expert like a freight forwarder or customs broker to make your declarations, please check if they are doing this for you.

Dover and Eurotunnel If the goods you’re exporting are leaving Great Britain from the border locations of Dover or Eurotunnel, make sure the dual Freight Location Code is used on the export declaration. This will give the haulier moving your goods flexibility for their route and avoid delays. Check the location codes for roll on roll off border locations for use in CDS or CHIEF.

EIDR If you’re authorised to make declarations in your own records for goods you’re moving, the haulier moving your goods will need your EORI number to ensure the Goods Movement Reference (GMR) is valid. Please ensure your haulier has this information before your goods are moved. Where you can get help with importing and exporting

Check our YouTube channel

We have information on YouTube videos on importing and exporting with the EU that you can watch or visit the step by step import, export and transit guides on

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