Bringing goods to the UK from the EU through roll on roll off ports from 1 January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

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

Importing to the UK from the EU

To be ready, you’ll need to:

Once you are ready, you will need to declare your goods to customs.

Declaring your goods before they leave the EU

You must declare your goods before checking them onto the ferry or train on the EU side. You or your representative can do this by:

  • making an entry in your own records
  • submitting a simplified frontier declaration (an electronic declaration submitted to HMRC)
  • submitting a full customs declaration

You must submit your customs declaration no earlier than 21 days before your goods arrive at the EU departure port (or Eurotunnel). You may be asked to confirm that you have completed a declaration as part of the terms and conditions when booking your transport or at check-in.

You must also provide the haulier moving your goods with your EORI number, if you are making an entry in your own records, or the master reference number you will receive when you complete a simplified or full declaration. HMRC may ask your haulier to show the EORI or master reference number to prove a declaration is in place.

You’ll be able to change your customs declaration up until the point you check-in at the departure port.

When your goods arrive in the UK

You must tell HMRC that your goods have arrived as soon as possible and no later than the end of the working day after the goods’ arrival in the UK. Your goods can leave the roll on roll off location and continue their journey before doing this.

To tell us the goods have arrived, you’ll need to update your:

  • records to show the actual time the goods arrived in the UK, if you have made an entry in your own records before moving the goods
  • declaration using your software application, or your customs agent can do this for you, if you have submitted a simplified or full declaration – if the vehicle reference number was not known at the point the declaration was submitted, it can be added up until this point

When the goods are not being released into a special customs procedure the goods can be removed from the port and can be sold or modified. However, the handling of excise goods must comply with import and export excise provisions set out below.

For both the simplified frontier declaration and entry in your own records, you’ll normally submit a supplementary declaration (a more detailed declaration) by the fourth working day of the month after your goods’ arrival in the UK. HMRC will update this content to let you know when to start making them.

If you have customs duties, excise duties or import VAT to pay, you must have a duty deferment account to import goods using transitional simplified procedures.

Importing excise goods from the EU into excise duty suspension

As well as making a customs declaration, you’ll need to use the Excise Movement and Control System to move excise duty-suspended goods from the place they enter the UK if they’re being delivered to a UK excise warehouse.

If you cannot make the entry before arrival in the UK, HMRC will allow you to make the entry by the end of the working day after the goods arrive in the UK. If this happens, you must enter both of the following on the import declaration:

  • the excise movement guarantee reference number in box 44, under the additional Information statement ‘GRNTR’
  • the destination excise warehouse reference number under the additional information statement ‘GEN45’

This will be for a temporary period and HMRC will update this guidance to tell you when this changes.

The receiving excise warehouse keeper will then need to complete the report of receipt once it’s entered to Excise Movement and Control System, no later than 5 working days after getting the goods.

If you do not enter the excise movement guarantee reference number on the import declaration, the goods will not be placed in duty suspension and they’ll be liable to forfeiture. You must also pay the excise duty.

Haulage companies who import

The person carrying the goods will need to carry either:

  • a master reference number to show that the importer has made a full or simplified frontier customs declaration
  • the EORI number of the importer if the importer made an entry in their own records

If goods are going to an excise warehouse in the UK then the driver will need to ensure that they hold either a copy of the eAD or commercial documentation that clearly states the ARC if available.

The importer or their customs agent will give these to you.

Importing – ferry and Channel Tunnel operators

For roll on roll off movements you’ll need to have reasonable belief that your customers have made the customs declarations.

You can do this through the terms and conditions your customers use when booking their transport.

You’ll need to show the booking to HMRC if asked for it.

Published 4 December 2018
Last updated 11 October 2019 
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