1. The law

1.1 All goods exported from the UK to non-EU countries must be declared to customs

In the UK all export declarations must be made electronically to the National Export System (NES). Electronic declarations can be made by the exporter or their appointed representative to Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF). In some circumstances (for example a personal export) customs will enter export details to CHIEF on behalf of the exporter.

More about manual declarations..

The legal provisions governing export declarations are included in the EU regulations and National legislation below.

EU Regulations:

  • Regulation (EU) 952/2013 Union Customs Code (UCC) commission delegating and implementing regulations 2015/2446 and 2015/2447
  • Commission implementing regulation

National Law:

  • Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) 1979 as amended by SI 1991 no 2724 – Section 52-68 (exports) commissioners’ directions 2002
  • Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 467
  • Value Added Tax Act 1994 – Section 16.1

1.3 Export Control System (ECS) and safety and security

ECS controls indirect exports by exchanging electronic messages with other member states. UCC legislation requires pre-departure information which will be risk assessed in advance of the export movement. Pre-departure declarations can take the form of a customs declaration, a re-export declaration or an exit summary declaration.

1.4 Deadlines for the lodgement of pre-departure declarations

The delegated regulation gives minimum deadlines for lodging export declarations. Full details can be found in Article 244 of (EU) regulation 952/2013, in summary it states that the deadline is at least:

  • 24 hours before the goods are loaded for containerised cargo
  • 30 minutes before departure from an airport for air traffic
  • 1 hour before departure for road and inland waterways traffic
  • 2 hours before the goods leave EU territory for rail traffic

Some commercial carriers (particularly in the maritime industry), may need the information included in an export declaration before the statutory deadlines, so they can meet safety, security and commercial responsibilities.

Find more on the new requirements.

Transitional arrangements apply – exports which are not customs cleared before 1 May 2016 will be released under the UCC provisions.

1.5 Making an export declaration

Declarations may be made by any person who is able to present the goods in question, or to have them presented, with all the supporting documentation required. Where acceptance of a declaration imposes obligations on a specific person, the declaration must be made by that person or on their behalf. The declarant must be established in the EU. However, the conditions regarding establishment in the EU shall not apply to person who:

  • make a declaration for transit or for temporary admission
  • declare goods only on an occasional basis, provided that the customs authorities consider this to be justified

Any person may appoint a representative to perform the acts and formalities laid down by customs rules. Representation may be by:

  • a direct representative – acts in the name of, and on behalf of, another person
  • an indirect representative – acts in their own name but on behalf of another person

A representative must state that they are acting on behalf of the person represented and specify whether that representation is direct or indirect and be empowered to act as the representative. Failure to comply on any of these conditions will result in the person concerned being deemed to be acting in their own name on their own behalf.

Article 15 952/2013 (UCC) provides that without prejudice to the possible application of penal provisions, the lodging of a declaration by the declarant or their representative shall render them responsible under the provisions in force for:

  • the accuracy of the information given in the declaration
  • the authenticity of the documents attached
  • compliance with all the obligations relating to the entry of the goods in question under the procedure concerned

This means that although there is no pre-printed declaration on the form as to the accuracy of the information it contains, the submitter of the declaration is legally responsible for its accuracy.

1.6 Indirect exports

An indirect export means goods are declared for export in one EU member state and then leave the EU via another member state. The office where the goods are declared and presented for export is the customs office of export. The office where the goods leave the EU is the customs office of exit.

1.7 Direct exports

Direct exports are where the whole of an export operation takes place in the territory of a single member state. The customs office where the declaration is presented can be both an office of export and an Office of Exit.

1.8 Tariff data held on CHIEF

Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the Tariff data held on CHIEF and to incorporate changes and corrections as promptly as possible. However, in cases where the information on CHIEF is at variance with that contained in the appropriate EU legislation published in the ‘Official Journal of the European Communities’, the latter will represent the correct legal position.

2. Export declarations

2.1 Full export declarations

Full declarations are needed for most goods being exported outside the customs territory of the EU as defined in Article 4 of regulation (EU) 952/2013 (UCC).

They are also required for goods being sent to one of the following special territories of the EU:

  • the Aland Islands (Finland)
  • the Canary Islands
  • the Channel Islands
  • French Overseas Department of Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte and Reunion Mount Athos ⁄ also known as Agion Poros (Greece)

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) goods exported to entitled destinations as provided for in Article 36 of Regulation 800/99 may also need a full export declaration. These include:

  • supplies within the EU for victualling on seagoing vessels or aircraft serving on international routes, including intra-EU routes
  • supplies to international organisations in the EU
  • supplies to armed forces stationed in the territory of a member state but not serving under its command

2.2 Simplified export procedures

Simplified export procedures change under the UCCUCC implementation has removed Local Clearance Procedure (LCP) as a simplification.

The simplifications available are:

  • Simplified Declaration Procedure (SDP)
  • Entry in Declarants Records (EIDR)

Traders need to apply to be authorised to use these procedures.

Traders currently authorised for LCP who are unable to use EIDR for exports may be able to use a new national facility called Customs Supervised Exports (CSE).

2.3 Exit Summary Declaration (EXS)

The EXS is made up of safety and security data (laid down in annex B of delegated regulation 2015/2446) and is only needed where a full export declaration (including safety and security data) is not required (Article271 of 952/2013 UCC).

More about the provision of safety and security details.

The EXS should be presented to the office of exit, not the office of export.

The introduction to export declarations explains more about the data that has to be included in a declaration on a box by box basis. Each item is flagged at the beginning to show whether the data is required for full SDP supplementary declaration (SD) and/or EXS declarations

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