Traders can use a customs facilitation, known as the ‘Common Transit Convention’, to move goods into, out of, and through the UK. The Common Transit Convention allows for customs processes to be suspended as goods move through different customs territories until the final point of destination.
Traders can also use Sanitary and Phytosanitary transit procedures to move relevant consignments across Great Britain as a landbridge. In line with the broad approach to commercial imports, we are introducing a simplified but effective system of Sanitary and Phytosanitary controls for movements of these goods through Great Britain, which minimises both friction at the border and the administrative burden to traders.
This section focuses on how the Common Transit Convention can be used to bring goods into the UK, explaining how it interacts with the announced Safety and Security and Sanitary and Phytosanitary changes. It also includes detail of the checks that will be applied for Sanitary and Phytosanitary landbridge movements.
The core Common Transit Convention and customs requirements do not change as part of the Target Operating Model. Details of how the Common Transit Convention works in Great Britain and Northern Ireland can be found in the Transit Manual Supplement here.
7.2 Overview of Common Transit Convention requirements
When goods being moved under the Common Transit Convention arrive in the UK, the goods and the Transit Accompanying Document must be presented at an Office of Transit. The paper Transit Accompanying Document (including a list of items) must accompany the consignment(s) but the Office of Transit checks can be completed digitally using the new Goods Vehicle Movement Service.
Hauliers must complete the Office of Transit processes on arrival into the UK for every Common Transit Convention movement they are carrying, whether they end in or move through the UK as a landbridge movement.
To end a Common Transit Convention movement in the UK, the trader must present the goods and the Transit Accompanying Document at the UK Office of Destination or Authorised Consignee stated on their Common Transit Convention declaration.
The most efficient way to end movements is to become registered as an Authorised Consignee, which enables movements to end at a trader’s premises. More information on Authorised Consignee status can be found here.
If a movement has not been taken to an Office of Destination or Authorised Consignee premises to end the movement then the movement cannot be closed, the guarantee will not be released, and the Customs Office of Departure will open an enquiry with the holder of the procedure.
Discharging a Common Transit Convention movement into a customs procedure
The movement can only be ended if an import customs declaration is completed and the goods are released into free circulation, or entered into another customs procedure. If this does not happen by the time the goods arrive, they must be placed into temporary storage.
Traders moving goods under the Common Transit Convention need to provide a guarantee to secure any customs duty, import Value Added Tax and excise duty suspended during the transit movement. This applies to imports to GB and landbridge movements.
Businesses using the Common Transit Convention should apply for an authorisation to use a Customs Comprehensive Guarantee and obtain a guarantee from a bank or other financial institution. Holders of Customs Comprehensive Guarantees can also apply for a “Guarantee waiver” that reduces the amount the guarantor needs to provide to 50%, 30% or nil if a full waiver. Details on how to apply for a guarantee waiver can be found here.
Authorised consignees need to have a form of temporary storage. This does not require the premises to be inventory linked if goods are unlikely to be stored for more than 6 days. More information can be found here.
Lodging a Common Transit Convention declaration requires access to the New Computerised Transit System.
The New Computerised Transit System 5, coming in November 2023, will introduce several improvements that include:
- The ability to amend pre-lodged declarations. Current Phase 4 capabilities mean the declaration must be cancelled and re-submitted if an amendment is required.
- Presenting the Movement Reference Number (MRN) electronically. The current legislation requires a paper Transit Accompanying Document to be carried and presented with the goods at each customs Office of Transit en-route to destination which will cease once NCTS5 is adopted by all contracting parties.
- Reporting incidents as they happen. There will be a new customs ‘Office of Incident’ role which means incidents will be recorded as they happen, at the nearest applicable customs office, as opposed to the current process whereby you need to wait until arrival at the Office of Destination which can cause delays.
- The ability to enter Multiple House Consignments in one declaration which allows for multiple Consignors/Consignees in a single transit movement.
- Introducing Commodity Codes (to 6 digits).
7.3 Safety and Security control requirements for goods moved under the Common Transit Convention
- The use of transit movements including the Common Transit Convention does not impact requirements for Safety and Security declarations, which must be met separately. The upcoming changes to Safety and Security procedures that affect transit movements are outlined below.
By 20 December 2023 – introduction of a waiver for outbound transhipment goods
- Since January 2021, a standalone Exit Summary Declaration has been required if goods are moved from Great Britain to the EU under the Common Transit Convention using a Transit Accompanying Document. By 20 December 2023, there will be a waiver for outbound goods when they have been transhipped and are leaving via a different port. This will apply as long as the goods are put into transit within 14 days of arrival and are moved under a single transport contract, with the import Safety and Security declaration still available and accurate.
From 31 October 2024 – introduction of an entry summary declaration on goods moving into Great Britain
From 31 October 2024, Safety and Security declarations will be required for all goods moving from the EU to Great Britain. At this point, a standalone Entry Summary Declaration will be required when goods are moving into Great Britain using a Transit Accompanying Document. This is in line with current practice for goods moving from non-EU countries to Great Britain using the Common Transit Convention processes.
Transit Security Accompanying Documents
The New Computerised Transit System Phase 6 (currently scheduled for implementation across all Common Transit Convention countries in 2025) will provide functionality to enable use of Transit Security Accompanying Documents.
This will remove the requirement for separate Entry Summary Declaration and Exit Summary Declarations when entering and exiting customs territories under the Common Transit Convention. So, for Common Transit Convention movements leaving GB, no Exit Summary Declaration will be required upon exit. For Common Transit Convention movements entering GB, Transit Security Accompanying Documents would remove the requirement for an Entry Summary Declaration upon entry.
The adoption of Transit Security Accompanying Documents is optional for each contracting party. If the UK opts into using Transit Security Accompanying Documents, but other Common Transit Convention contracting parties do not, there will still be benefits to GB traders in Transit Security Accompanying Documents being available.
The UK Government will promote the advantage of using Transit Security Accompanying Documents to other Common Transit Convention contracting parties, recognising that the greater the number that opt-in the greater the reduction in administrative burden to trade.
7.4 Sanitary and Phytosanitary control requirements for goods moving through GB as transit movements
Sanitary and Phytosanitary consignments that transit through the UK, including those using GB as a landbridge can pose biosecurity and public health risks. In line with the broad approach to commercial imports, as mentioned above, we are introducing a simplified but effective system of biosecurity controls for movements of these goods through Great Britain, which minimises both friction at the border and the administrative burden to traders.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary consignments imported to GB via a transit movement will be considered a standard import for Sanitary and Phytosanitary purposes and will need to meet standard controls. See Section 1.3 for further information.
The controls set out below are for Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods, moved through Great Britain whether travelling under the Common Transit Convention or other customs processes.
Animals and animal products
Currently, all Sanitary and Phytosanitary consignments using Great Britain as a landbridge require pre-notification via the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS).
Consignments from outside the EU using Great Britain as a landbridge require a specialised Sanitary and Phytosanitary ‘transit’ certificate that gives a reduced range of attestations. Live animals are subject to 100% documentary, identity and physical checks on entry. Animal products are subject to 100% documentary and identity checks on entry and identity (integrity of seal) check on exit. Physical checks are conducted in cases of suspected non-compliance.
We have published simplified model health certificates for animals and animal products using Great Britain as a landbridge. We have also published risk categories for animals and animal products from the EU, effective from 31 January 2024.
- High risk EU Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods using Great Britain as a landbridge will require health certificates from 31 January 2024. They will be subject to 100% documentary checks on entry and to 100% identity (seal) checks on entry and 100% identity (integrity of the seal) checks on exit. Checks on EU consignments will begin on 30 April 2024 in line with those for imports.[footnote 4]
- Medium risk EU Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods using Great Britain as a landbridge will require health certificates from 31 January 2024. They will be subject to documentary checks on entry and to identity (seal) checks on entry and identity (integrity of the seal) checks on exit. Checks on EU transit consignments will begin on 30 April 2024 alongside checks on EU imports and will be undertaken at the same percentage rates for imports as set out in Figure 3 above.
- Low risk EU Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods using Great Britain as a landbridge will not require health certificates or routine checks. However, they may be subject to non-routine/intelligence-led checks.
Live animals are inherently high risk. We will therefore require health certificates and 100% Sanitary and Phytosanitary entry checks (documentary, identity and physical) for live animal consignments using Great Britain as a landbridge. However, we are proposing a reduced checks regime for certain species with additional assurances (e.g., high health equines) in line with that for imports. The approach foresees verified elite racing equines receiving no checks through verifying sector data which enables us to have high confidence in their health status. Further details of this will be published separately following ongoing stakeholder engagement.
Our ambition is to move to a global risk-based regime for all Sanitary and Phytosanitary consignments using Great Britain as a landbridge. This is subject to undertaking further assessment of risk from non-EU Sanitary and Phytosanitary landbridge movements and determining the extent to which additional technological and/or trader solutions can provide additional assurance. Until then, we will continue to apply existing checks to Sanitary and Phytosanitary consignments from the rest of the world using Great Britain as a landbridge.
Plants and plant products
For phytosanitary checks of plants and plant products using Great Britain as a landbridge we intend to introduce a simplified approach coupled with surveillance and non-routine checks to monitor the movement of goods using Great Britain as a landbridge. There will be no requirement for pre-notification via the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) for entry or exit. Goods will continue to require a signed declaration stating that the goods are under phytosanitary transit and are packaged in such a way that there is no risk of spreading pests through Great Britain.
However these movements will still be subject to Common Transit Convention transit requirements and checks if using this facilitation to enter Great Britain.
Interactions between the Common Transit Convention and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Controls
Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods moving under the Common Transit Convention remain subject to Common Transit Convention and Sanitary and Phytosanitary control requirements.
Where Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods are moving under the Common Transit Convention and require a physical examination on entry for both Sanitary and Phytosanitary and Common Transit Convention purposes, we will aim to ensure that these checks are completed at the same time by the port health authority or local authority, and Border Force.