Sending goods to the EU through roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel

Find out what to do if you use roll on roll off locations or the Channel Tunnel to transport goods to the EU from the UK.

If you use roll on roll off locations to transport goods out of the UK, you’ll need to submit customs declarations and pay any Customs Duty, excise duty or VAT due.

Exporting from the UK to the EU

To be ready, you’ll need to:

Making a combined safety and security and customs declaration

If you’re exporting goods from the UK from a roll on roll off location to the EU, you or your customs agent will need to complete a combined safety and security and customs declaration before the goods get to the departure port.

You’ll be able to do this using the National Export System.

If you do this yourself, you’ll need to enter the correct Customs Duty tariffs.

You’ll need to include the registration number of the vehicle you’re using to transport your goods on the declaration. Ask the company that’s exporting your goods (usually a haulier) for the number. You’ll need this so you can complete the combined export and safety and security declaration in full.

If you’re transporting unaccompanied goods on a trailer or in a container, you’ll need to include the trailer or container number on your declaration.

Once you’ve submitted the combined customs and safety and security declaration HMRC will send you a notification giving you a route 1, 2, 3 or 6. The meaning of each of those is:

  • Route 1: Documentary checks required – send a copy of the export entry and supporting documents by email to the National Clearance Hub and wait for permission to progress to be granted or for further instruction
  • Route 2: Asks you to make sure the haulier or driver transports your goods to a designated export place or authorised premises, so that we can make customs checks before we give you clearance – you must supply a copy of the export entry and supporting documents by email to the National Clearance Hub
  • Route 3: Post departure documentary check – send a copy of the export entry and supporting documents by email to the National Clearance Hub or post to:

HM Revenue and Customs
National Clearance Hub
Ralli Quays
3 Stanley Street
M60 9LA
United Kingdom

  • Route 6: Gives permission to progress to port

HMRC usually examines goods at:

  • premises we’ve approved
  • a designated customs office

Check the CHIEF freight location codes for a list of designated customs offices.

If HMRC tells you that you must make your goods available for examination, you should arrange for this at one of these locations. HMRC may ask you to make your goods available for inspection at a specific location.

Exporting excise duty-suspended goods

If you’re exporting excise duty-suspended goods under an electronic administrative document (eAD) using Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS), you must give HMRC a full departure message so that we can complete the export and account for any duty refund or discharge any liability. You can do this by either:

  • submitting online forms to HMRC along with evidence of export
  • arranging for a third party intermediary to update HMRC IT systems

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.

Exporting UK excise duty-paid goods

If you’re exporting UK excise duty-paid goods, to claim a refund of UK duty you must satisfy the conditions of drawback. This is where eligible excise goods have not been and will not be consumed in the UK. Goods must either be:

  • exported outside the UK
  • warehoused for export

To claim for drawback, you’ll need to check that you and your goods are eligible.

You’ll need to complete a notice of intention to claim drawback and send it to the drawback processing centre. You’ll also need to prepare any documentation you need to accompany the goods. For example, the export declaration on Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF).

You’ll need to make your goods and any accompanying documentation available for inspection and wait the minimum period of notice in case we decide to inspect. If you’re going to export the drawback goods, this is at least 2 full business days’ notice between the day we get your form and the day you intend to export the goods.

When the notice of intention period ends you’ll be able to export your goods as notified on your form. After you’ve exported your goods you can complete and submit your drawback claim form with supporting evidence.

The processing centre will then process your claim and make a decision about your claim.

Assumed departure

If the departure message is not manually made by the trader, after 15 days CHIEF will automatically assume that the goods have departed.

For the following roll on roll off port locations, CHIEF will assume departure 5 days after customs clearance:

  • Dover (DOV)
  • Dover Eurotunnel (DEU)
  • Holyhead (HLD)
  • Purfleet (PUF)
  • Pembroke (MIL)
  • Heysham (HEY)
  • Fishguard (FIS)
  • Killingholme (KIL)
Published 4 December 2018
Last updated 30 June 2021 
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