The importance of the Declaration Unique Consignment Reference

The DUCR and the optional Part suffix is the main reference key to any Customs Handling of Import & Export Freight (CHIEF) declaration.


The Declaration Unique Consignment Reference (DUCR) and the optional Part suffix is the main reference key to any Customs Handling of Import & Export Freight (CHIEF) declaration. It is also the primary data item for matching import consignments containing plants, flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables on the CHIEF Import declaration and any Procedure for Electronic Application for Certificates (PEACH) Advance Notification.

For example, where the DUCR and Part are created by separate individuals – ie Advanced Notifications by the importer and import declarations by the agent – the communication of the precise format of DUCR, including any Part suffix (optionally completed), will be of paramount importance to ensure an exact match can be achieved.

The importance of achieving a match is that the Automatic Licence Verification System (ALVS) can transmit decisions to CHIEF in near real time resulting in automatic clearance for consignments granted green (release) decisions from the matching PEACH Advance Notification.

The format of the DUCR

The format of the DUCR should conform to the Unique Consignment Reference (UCR) structure recommended by the World Customs Organisation (WCO).

The format of a trader generated DUCR is year – country – Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) – traders’ reference – where:

  • ‘Year’ – is the year in which the DUCR was allocated. For example, ‘9’ if allocated in 2009, ‘0’ if allocated in 2010 and ‘1’ if allocated in 2011. Therefore for the year 2009, ensure the year component of the DUCRentered onto the PEACH advance notification contains the single ‘9’ digit and not ‘09’. In 2010, enter the year as a single ‘0’ digit and not ‘10’
  • ‘Country’ – is the country where the DUCR was allocated
  • EORI’ – is the identity of the trader as known to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). In the UK this is the 12 character EORI number
  • ’-‘ – is a dash
  • ‘Reference’ – is a unique series of characters that the trader, whose EORInumber is included in the DUCR, devises and which provides an audit trail within traders’ commercial records. This component of the DUCR is restricted to numbers, upper case letters and certain special characters

To ensure a positive outcome from DUCR and optionally completed Part suffix matching is achieved, the DUCR reference quoted within the PEACHAdvance Notification and the CHIEF import declaration will need to be identical to meet the requirements of the Automatic Licence Verification matching algorithm.

Equally, failure to complete the declaration UCR on the CHIEF Import declaration will mean that CHIEF will generate a DUCR reflecting the entry number details resulting in a mismatch situation and potentially incurring delays in customs clearance.

If CHIEF generates a DUCR because a genuine DUCR has not been completed on the Import declaration, the corresponding PEACH application will require amending to match the same DUCR reference created on CHIEF.

The DUCR Part suffix

Whilst it is recommended that unique DUCRs are specified from traders’ own commercial records (this can be anything unique to the trader), the use of the DUCR Part suffix allows two or more Import declarations to have the same core DUCR.

On CHIEF, up to four characters have been made available for the Part suffix that, in combination with a DUCR (of up to 35 characters), must be unique.

Whilst the optionally completed DUCR Part suffix can contain a three-digit ‘Part’ Number and an optional alpha check letter – for example ‘001A’ – PEACH will not permit you to enter the alpha check letter into the optional Part Number field.

The alpha character check letter is ignored by the ALVS in matching. In the above example, the Part number would be entered in the PEACH Advance Notification Part field as ‘001’.

Part Numbers can be entered with leading zeros in both CHIEF and PEACH. Where a Part Number is used, the same exact Part Number must be entered, unless you wish to take advantage of Bulk Matching.

For example, if you enter a Part of ‘03’ into PEACH, then the CHIEF Part must be entered as ‘03’ and not ‘3’ or ‘003’.

The ALVS matching process

Flexibility has been built into the ALVS matching solution. To ensure that where identical DUCRs are entered on multiple PEACH applications, ALVScan handle ‘one’ to ‘many’ and ‘many’ to ‘many’ relationships between Advance Notifications and CHIEF import declarations.

ALVS offers two types of matching, known as Single rule matching and Bulk rule matching. ALVS will attempt to match your PEACH consignment lines to CHIEF Import declaration items initially using Single rule matching and then Bulk rule matching.

Import declarations for containers with mixed products

For multiple or single containers where each of the Advance Notifications contain mixed commodities and/or varieties that subsequently obtain a green release decision from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) or the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), under the Bulk matching rule a multi-item import declaration can be submitted to CHIEF – same DUCRbut entering a Part suffix – that reflects on each item of the declaration, the different commodities or varieties.

Refused PEACH decisions

Depending on the type of issue notified to you by the inspection bodies, you will need to work with them to resolve the situation. To obtain clearance for any ‘green ball’ consignments held alongside those acted on, it is possible that you will have to amend submissions already made.

A brief summary of the correction options available on PEACH and CHIEF are outlined below.

Where a second CHIEF Import declaration is subsequently required to clear a refused PEACH application, for example in respect of a documentary check failure for one of the multiple containers, the PEACH application with the refused consignment will either:

  • require amendment to the DUCR on the application line with the refused consignment
  • be cancelled altogether and two new PEACH applications created to separate out released consignments from any refused ones

The new PEACH application can either have the same DUCR as the original PEACH application but with a DUCR Part suffix entered or a completely new DUCR with no Part suffix.

To achieve a match whenever the ALVS receives an amended or new Import declaration to resolve a refused decision, the DUCR and Part suffix entered on PEACH must be identical to the DUCR and Part suffix entered on the second CHIEF Import declaration covering the refused consignment.

ALVS will not receive or match scenarios involving re-processing (including movement for correction – HCG4), seized, destroyed or re-exported consignments. These will be handled under existing manual processes.

Making the matching process for PEACHcertificates

To increase the likelihood that a timely and successful matching process takes place you are encouraged to submit the Advance Notification to PEACH:

  • for arrivals by air – at least four working hours notice
  • in all other instances – at least three working days notice, in advance of the CHIEF import declaration, including any pre-lodged import declarations

This sequence will enable you to establish the results of the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate or Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate decisions in advance and allow you to reflect how you submit your customs declarations to reflect differing types of PEACH decisions – to separate out green (release) decisions from any red or white failures.

Detailed options and explanations regarding DUCRmatching

There are several different types of DUCR matching rules which have different requirements.

Single rule matching

The single rule matching requires that:

  • the DUCR and Part combination provided on the CHIEF Import declaration and PEACH Advance Notification are to be exactly the same
  • where no Part is to be used then the Part must not be entered on both the PEACH Advance Notification and CHIEF Import declaration
  • more than one Advance Notification can have the same repeated DUCRand Part to facilitate individual item to consignment line matching where more than four items are required to be matched – a single PEACH Advance Notification contains a maximum of four consignment lines

Bulk rule matching

Bulk rule matching has been provided to facilitate traders who complete PEACH applications on the basis of one application per container as a result of the commercial invoice, packing list and phytosanitory certificate being documented separately.

Bulk rule matching requires that:

  • DUCR and a Part combination must be provided on the CHIEF Import declaration
  • each PEACH Advance Notification should only contain a single consignment line with the same exact DUCR as the CHIEF Import declaration but no Part must be recorded

Multiple containers on a single vessel

When dealing with multiple containers on a single vessel or voyage, there are two approaches to the creation of the containers to RPA Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate and Plant Health in the PEACH Advance Notification. You can either:

  • create a separate PEACH Advance Notification for each container – ensure that only one consignment line is in the PEACH Advance Notification
  • create a single PEACH Advance Notification, enter each container as a consignment line up to a maximum of four consignment lines. If necessary continue entering additional consignments on further PEACH Advance Notifications as required.

Choosing to handle Defra or RPA ‘released’ consignments before other ‘held’ consignments

If, for commercial reasons, you wish to obtain a CHIEF release for those consignments that already have release decisions and you do not wish to wait for remaining release decisions, then this can only be done by creating separate CHIEF Import declarations.

If you decide to do this, where multiple ALVS released consignments involve different Integrated Tariff of the European Community (TARIC) codes you must create a CHIEF Import declaration containing an item for each PEACHconsignment line that has all its necessary release decisions. Each item must be created with a weight to match the total weight of each released consignment.

Multiple PEACH consignments for a Single CHIEF declaration

Where you have multiple ALVS released consignment lines which all map to the same TARIC code then you can create a single corresponding item on the CHIEF Import declaration with a weight matching the summed total weight of those consignment lines.

Having created the Import declaration, in most circumstances this will result in ALVS matching the item/s to the consignments and sending the release decisions through to CHIEF. The Import declaration will be automatically released and those consignments on the PEACH Advance Notification will become finalised.

When any remaining held consignments have received their release decisions in PEACH then an additional CHIEF Import Declaration will need to be created. The additional Import declaration can contain the same DUCR as the previously released Import declaration, but remember CHIEF will not permit two Import declarations to co-exist with the same exact DUCR and Part combination.

Same DUCR but new Part suffix in the new Import declaration

If you use the same DUCR but a new Part suffix in the new Import declaration then:

  • no PEACH DUCR amendment should be required to facilitate the ALVSrelease
  • create the Import declaration with only the item/s that now have release decisions
  • ALVS should match those items to those consignments and cause that Import declaration to be released
  • once released in CHIEF, those consignments on the PEACH Advance Notification will be finalised

If you decide to use a new DUCR in your new Import declaration then you will have to use the PEACH DUCR Amend function to change the DUCR on the PEACH Advance Notifications which contain the newly-released consignments.

You need to be aware that amendment of the DUCR or Part on Advance Notifications may not be possible if the PEACH Advance Notification you wish to amend has already been finalised, as they contain consignments already released. In such cases you should consider using the same DUCRand a new Part suffix in the new CHIEF Import declaration.

Additional steps required for early release

There can be some unique circumstances where ALVS is not able to automatically supply the release decisions to CHIEF to facilitate automated release of the Import declaration. This can happen where there are PEACHconsignments that share the same exact DUCR and Part combination and all have the same TARIC mapping as some of those consignments you wish to release, whilst others still have hold decisions.

For example, if you have multiple PEACH consignment of apples of variety ‘Cox Pippin’ with release decisions and also a PEACH consignment of variety ‘Braeburn’ which is still being held, in such a case you should first attempt to create the CHIEF Import declaration with each item representing each consignment line with matching individual weights. This should allow the Import declaration to be released.

If however you wish to create the CHIEF Import declaration with a single item representing the total summed weight of the released consignment lines then an additional PEACH DUCR Amend step will be required.

The PEACH DUCR Amend function must be used to change either the Part number or the DUCR of the Advance Notifications containing the non-released consignments. The type of DUCR amendment you make will depend on your decision as to whether the new CHIEF Import declaration you will create for the non-released consignments will contain the same DUCR and a Part combination not already used, or whether a new, different DUCR will be used.

Once the appropriate DUCR amendments have been made to those PEACHadvance notifications then:

  • ALVS should be able to match the initial released consignment lines to the CHIEF Import declaration
  • an automated release of the Import declaration will occur

When the remaining held consignments have received their release decisions then an additional CHIEF Import declaration will have to be created with the item(s) that now have release decisions.

This new Import declaration must contain the DUCR (and Part if applicable) that you amended on the PEACH Advance Notification.

Published 10 August 2012
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