Declarations to Revenue

Every import requires an entry summary declaration and an import declaration. The entry summary declaration and import declaration must be made separately notwithstanding that the overlap of information is considerable.

Special software is necessary to communicate with the revenue authorities’ systems. Certain messages and notices can be completed through the Revenue online (ROS)  but the principal declarations require further software. Revenue publishes the technical requirements for use by software developers.

Entry Summary Declarations

The entry summary declaration is to contain the goods related information necessary for a cargo risk assessment for safety and security purposes. In principle, if the other information including the customs declaration contains the relevant information the customs authority may accept this instead. In practice, Irish Revenue require a separate entry summary declaration and customs declaration.

The entry summary declaration is made the responsibility of the carrier although it may and usually does delegate another person, such as the importer, a freight forwarder or another vehicle provider (e.g.roro) or  an agent to undertake the task. The ferry companies require importers into Ireland to ensure that the relevant declarations are made and that movement reference number is produced to them before accepting goods and containers et cetera

The entry summary declaration (referred to as an ENS under the customs code) is made electronically to the office of first entry. The time limit depends on the means of transport. The entry is made electronically through the import control system.

Where the carrier is unable to submit all the particulars the missing element of the data can be provided by another entity involved in the process. Other documents may substitute for the declaration where they contain the relevant data.

The carrier must inform the customs office at the port of entry of arrival of the vessel. The default position is that goods must be presented to customs on arrival and may be examined. The obligation to present applies to the person who was brought the goods into the EU, the person on whose behalf the goods are brought into the EU.

Summary Declaration and Brexit

The safety and security declaration (the entry summary declaration) will be required on imports from the United Kingdom as it appears that the UK will not be in the safety and security zone convention. This zone includes the EU and certain third countries at present.

For its part, the UK has indicated that it will waive safety and security requirements on imports into the UK in most cases, for an initial six month period. This is distinct from the customs requirements.  Ireland cannot offer a corresponding waiver, in view of the existing EU legislative requirements. The import declaration must still be made whether in the conventional way by return or under the temporary simplified procedure by a UK established entity or by an agent who can act as importer of record and take responsibility for customs and VAT.

Revenue indicates the standard processing time for entry summary declaration is 30 seconds provided all the requisite information is furnished. The declaration may be made two hours in advance. It may be made by the trader or its agent. It comprises some of the information on the complete customs declaration

The Irish ferry companies have indicated that they will not undertake the safety and security returns for unaccompanied containers and require importers to prove that they have done so before being allowed onto a ferry from the UK. An importer into Ireland or its logistics provider must make the relevant return and produce a movement reference number (MRN) before being accepted. Carriers/drivers of accompanied consignments are obliged to ensure that this has been done. They would be required to prove that they have done so.

Import Declaration

The import declaration requires  information in relation to

  • the importer and exporter (their EORI numbers)
  • details of representatives
  • status of representative (agent or principal)
  • the goods in accordance with the exact classification code from the customs tariff
  • details of packages, packing lists et cetera
  • reference numbers when a summary or other earlier part declaration made
  • customs procedure to be used e.g. release, temporary warehousing et cetera
  • valuation (including transport and delivery costs)
  • currency/exchange rate
  • the person responsible for duties
  • calculation of tax where due
  • payment arrangements
  • country of origin
  • country of destination
  • delivery terms (who is responsible for duty transport et cetera under the supply contract
  • mode of transport
  • transport e.g. truck registration or trailer ID
  • location of goods
  • office of exit

Much of the same information is also required for the export declaration. The initial entry and exit summary declaration require reduced information necessary to assess the safety and security issues. There import declaration may be made in advance but is only validated just before  the ship or other means of transport approaches the border.

There may be multiple declarations in a particular case before the final declaration to free circulation, with release and payment (or securing of) of any duties (and VAT). The data set required for each may vary depending on the stage in the process involved and the means of transport.

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents must also be held. This will include a commercial invoice and the transport document such as a CMR consignment note (road)) Bill of lading or other sea transport document or airwaybill. A packing list is required where applicable

Certain goods require licenses and authorisations and they must be available and furnished electronically. In relation to agricultural and food products, veterinary and Plant health certificates are required.

Risk Assessment

Revenue and customs authorities use the information declared for the purpose of risk assessment to consider whether to permit the movement (green routing)  make a documentary check (orange routing) or make a physical check of the goods (red routing).

The assessment is made by computer program analysis based on input from revenue authorities throughout Europe. The risk issues depend on the nature of the goods, the traders, the carrier and the circumstances of the movement. These factors may make a documentary or physical check more or less likely in the circumstances.

Apart from checks arising from risk factors based on the information returned, Revenue is obliged to make a certain amount of random checks for basic enforcement and confirmation purposes. There is the risk that the returns made may not be accurate or complete. There is the risk that consignments may include other undeclared or wrongly declared goods.

Declaration to Procedure and Revenue Control

The goods are under customs supervision and control until they are custom status is declared and they are released to free circulation. They may be declared to other processes allowing for example that they be moved to a customs warehouse. The goods may be placed under a customs procedure by the holder of an authorisation for the operation of storage facilities.

The default is that they are deemed to be entered to temporary storage unless and until otherwise declared. The entry summary declaration may be treated as a declaration to temporary storage (with Revenue) if there is no prior customs declaration.

The default position is that goods are presumed to be presented to temporary storage until they are the subject of a declaration to another customs procedure such as release to free circulation et cetera.

The declaration to temporary storage is to contain all the goods related data. They may be stored in a temporary storage facility. They may be discharged within 90 days. A guarantee may be required while the goods are in temporary storage.

The goods may be released from temporary storage by a declaration to free circulation payment of the relevant duties (and completion of any other requirements under the customs tariff) where applicable.

Revenue have considerable powers in relation to the goods during the time when they are under their control.  The various powers of Revenue are considered in other parts of this website.

Processing Declaration

In principle, Revenue seek to ensure that there is a prior declaration to free circulation or other customs procedure which allows movement through the port and clearance in advance. This is possible in most cases, where there are established importers and exporters who undertake regular business, providing guarantees for payment of any customs duties where they apply.

Revenue indicate that the outcome of a declaration return will be notified 20 minutes prior to exit from the ferry. It is at this point that the a prior declaration is accepted and becomes live. Subject to proper completion of the documents the vast majority of declarations are given green routing so that they may move freely from the port. Revenue have indicated that drivers may login to an online system using the registration number or trailer number to confirm green, orange or red routing.

Where there is orange or red routing trucks and consignments will be directed to a central compound in the port for physical undocumented checking.

Non-Customs Issues

The risks relate not only to Revenue issues of the collection of the customs duty (if any) but also to regulatory compliance issues in relation to the goods. In this regard Revenue act as agents for other bodies of government most notably the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine. There are other specific rules in the areas of agriculture and food which require checks in almost all cases in the case of many animals plants and a significant amount of designated foods. These further more detailed rules are dealt with separately.

In addition to food and agriculture controls, there is specific legislation in relation to particular unusual classes of goods which is administered by other departments and agencies, which may make checks and controls necessary or more likely. In particular the import and/or export of certain types of goods requires a licence,  in  Ireland and sometimes in the corresponding state of import or export.

Other sections of this website deal in detail with these requirements. They cover such matters as goods and materials with potential use as weapons, diamonds and protected species. For example, controls may also be instituted where there is an intellectual property alert in relation to counterfeit goods


Formal simplification procedures are available under the EU customs rules and require compliance with EU wide criteria and standards. The requirements for authorised economic operators in particular whether for customs or safety and security or both are onerous and rigorous.

For the most part, the simplifications do not obviate the requirements for  Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine to undertake checks on animal planet and food products. The bulk of these checks are mandatory and prescribed by European Union law.


There are a number of special customs processes which may relieve immediate payment of VAT and customs duties which are set out in detail in other parts of this website. They may allow VAT and duty to be suspended for a period, e.g. until goods are removed from a Customs warehouse or for duty to be charged only on value added abroad et cetera.

The customs warehouse procedure allows imported goods to be moved to a customs-approved warehouse with duty (and VAT) suspended. The obligations to make a customs declaration declaring the goods to free circulation with payment of the duty may be postponed until the goods are released from the customs warehouse. This aids cash flow as well as facilitating free movement through the port to the warehouse.


Customs Duties I

In the event of a no deal Brexit customs duty and import VAT would apply at the point of entry into Ireland. The applicable duty would be determined by the commodity code for the particular goods in the customs tariff.

Ireland will be obliged by law to charge the third country duty rate on imports from the United Kingdom. This is the default that applies where there is no particular preference under a trade agreement. The rates of duty vary across commodity types considerably. Over the last 50 years, the rates have progressively decreased. Many rates are between zero and 10%.

However, some goods in particular agricultural and food products, are subject to very high rates of 30 to 50%. This high duty together with the strict animal and food health requirements at the border means that a hard Brexit would be extremely burdensome and costly on agricultural and food businesses and they may lose considerable business.

Customs Duties II

The incidence and amount of customs duty will depend on the nature of the goods. In order for goods to be released, they must be declared to the free circulation process. This requires payment of the duty of the goods. Payment may be made through a secured account.

Traders may procure a comprehensive guarantee covering multiple declarations and procedures. This may take the form of a cash deposit or an undertaking by an Irish/EU authorise financial institution. Traders such as AEOs and others enjoying waivers may qualify for reductions in the levels required or other waivers of conditions.

Value Added Tax

The default position is that value-added tax is due at the point of import. For businesses, this would normally involve payment of VAT and later taking credit in the following VAT return for that purchase in the same way as with the purchase of other goods.

VAT is a national competence, unlike customs. Emergency legislation is proposed top  allow traders to postpone their VAT liability to the following VAT return period after the export by way of concession for a period after Brexit.

This will greatly assist cash flow in that an importer could effectively set off its obligation in respect of import VAT against the corresponding claim for credit in respect of input VAT in much the same way as occurs at present In respect of an EU acquisition. However, a guarantee is likely to be required. A period of grace may be given for obtaining the guarantee.

VAT would be chargeable by the trader on its sales in the normal way.

Registration of Traders

As a very bare minimum trader must first register for an EORI  (economic operator’s registration and identification number) to act as importer or exporter. A trader may register for an EORI number in Ireland or in the UK if he is to act as an importer into or exporter from the UK.

An application for an EORI number can be made following registration for customs through  Revenue online service ROS. A number, usually based on  the VAT number is given.

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