Exporting excise goods to the EU

From 1 January 2021, there will be changes to how you export and declare excise goods – alcohol, tobacco and certain oils.

From 1 January 2021, exports of excise goods from Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) to the EU will be treated the same as exports to the rest of the world. This includes moving excise goods to a place of export in Great Britain.

There will be different rules in respect of Northern Ireland movements after transition.

Exporting excise duty-paid goods

From 1 January 2021 you’ll need to submit an electronic customs export declaration. If you’re a business, you may be able to recover the excise duty on the exported goods by claiming excise duty drawback.

Exporting excise duty-suspended goods

From 1 January 2021 you cannot use the Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS) to move excise duty-suspended goods directly from Great Britain to the EU. You’ll need to declare the goods for export on EMCS and submit an electronic customs export declaration. If you move goods without following the relevant customs export procedures at the place they are exported from, you may be liable for excise duty and penalties. Your goods may also be seized.

If you raise a movement on EMCS to an EU member state 7 days before 1 January 2021 with a dispatch date on or after 1 January 2021 the movement will be rejected by EMCS and HMRC.

Moving excise duty-suspended goods to the place of export from Great Britain

You must use EMCS to move excise duty-suspended goods from within Great Britain to the place they are being exported from.

You’ll need to either:

  • make sure the authorised warehousekeeper declares the movement on EMCS when the goods are held in excise duty-suspension in their warehouse
  • appoint a registered consignor to move the goods or become a registered consignor – when the goods are being released from a customs control for re-export

The authorised warehousekeeper or registered consignor must:

  • complete and submit an electronic administrative document (eAD) through EMCS before the movement takes place
  • get a unique Administrative Reference Code (ARC) for that specific movement – that EMCS generates
  • complete a customs export declaration using the National Export System (NES) and enter the ARC in box 40
  • receive an ‘accepted for export’ notification on EMCS after the goods are cleared by customs – this should be generated if the ARC on EMCS matches the details in box 40 of the customs export declaration
  • receive a ‘report of export’ to make sure the export is closed on EMCS

If the ARC does not match the customs export declaration within 30 days of the customs export declaration being submitted, the warehousekeeper or registered consignor will receive a ‘rejected for export’ notification to remind them that the movement is still open on EMCS. You’ll need to establish why this has happened and take corrective action.

If you’re exporting excise goods under eAD using EMCS, you must make sure you submit a departure message to CHIEF to achieve ICS60. This will make sure EMCS is updated to ‘Delivered’.

If you’re exporting excise goods using the Customs Supervised Export (CSE) simplification through a roll on roll off (RoRo) port, you do not need to submit a departure message, but must make sure adequate evidence of export is retained as specified in section 13.10 of Public Notice 197.

These are the relevant EMCS status depending on the progression of the movement:

EMCS status Description
‘Accepted’ The customs export declaration has been accepted
‘Rejected for export’ The ARC does not match the customs export declaration on CHIEF
‘Exporting’ The ARC matches the customs export declaration on CHIEF and the goods have been cleared by customs
‘Delivered’ The goods have departed Great Britain

Where excise warehouses are also approved for local clearance procedures or Customs Supervised Exports they can continue to benefit from export simplifications and not record the movement on EMCS. This is on the condition that the excise movement guarantee reference is included on the export declaration.

If you’re a registered excise business in Great Britain or use authorised destinations in Great Britain

From 1 January 2021, the following registered excise businesses in Great Britain and authorised destinations will no longer be authorised to receive or dispatch excise goods:

  • registered consignee – including movements for direct delivery
  • temporary registered consignee
  • unknown destination for energy products
  • tax representative – for excise duty on distance sales from the EU
  • registered commercial importer
  • unregistered commercial importer

Movements to exempt consignees in member states will also no longer be able to take place on EMCS.

These types of authorisations will still be required for businesses registered in Northern Ireland.

If your goods are dispatched on or before 31 December 2020 but received on or after 1 January 2021

You do not need to complete a customs export declaration in Great Britain if:

  • the goods are travelling under a recognised excise scheme at that time
  • you can show that the movement started on or before 31 December 2020

The export requirements and any sanctions that may apply to these goods will be based on the UK excise legislation and duty points that apply at the time the movement started.

HMRC or Border Force may ask for evidence of the date and time your goods were dispatched. You can show this by providing:

If you cannot prove the date and time your goods were dispatched, the movement will be treated in the same way as one that started on or after 1 January 2021 and customs export procedures will apply.

Change of destination for goods in flight

If you’re an excise business based in Great Britain and have any open EMCS movements to the EU, you’ll not be able to declare a change of destination to a member state from 1 January 2021. For example, if goods are in progress from a warehouse in Great Britain to a warehouse in the EU and the goods cannot be received in the intended place of destination, they can only be amended to the following destination types:

  • Northern Ireland consignee
  • Great Britain consignee
  • rest of the world export

Closing duty-suspended movements that started on or before 31 December 2020 but received on or after 1 January 2021

If your goods arrive at their EU destination on or after 1 January 2021 but were dispatched from Great Britain before this time (or have not left the EU but were dispatched on or before 31 December 2020, as an indirect export), the movements will be closed in the normal way, with a report of receipt or report of export. In instances where reports cannot be electronically processed from a member state the movement will be manually closed by HMRC.

Excise duty drawback claims

If you provide HMRC with an EX75 Notice of Intention (NOI) on or before 31 December 2020 but the drawback claim is made after this date, the way you can claim duty drawback will change.

HMRC will provide more information about these changes before 1 January 2021.

Published 10 October 2019
Last updated 30 June 2021 
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