The Single Administrative Document is a standard form used for declaring imports, exports, transit and several other customs procedures.  It is still occasionally used in the paper form. In almost all cases it is now used in electronic form. The references below to the box numbers refer to the fields in the online/electronic return.

Agents are very commonly employed to undertake the returns and customs processing on behalf of traders. There are two types of customs agent. One type of agent is not liable for the customs debt or VAT after the declaration is accepted. The other type may act in their own name and be jointly liable for all charges.

The customs agent will require the requisite information to complete the SED form and comply with other requirements and formalities.

The SAD form is harmonised internationally. The form is used both for export and import declarations as well as in transit through other jurisdictions to a final point of exit or entry within the EU and third countries.

Numeric Codes

The form uses various numeric codes that are prescribed. In broad terms that set out

  • what the goods are
  • what movement is declared
  • the goods identified by their commodity code under the tariff heading
  • the customs procedure code which determines the way in which the trader is treating the goods

The SED has 54 boxes. The full version comprises eight parts for use in different parts of the trading process. Parts two and three are for export. Parts. Six, seven eight are for imports. Parts one, four and five are for transit.

Two of the most important entries and the commodity code from the EU TARIC /customs tariff. The CPC code identifies the procedure to which goods are put. This may be released into free circulation or assignment to another customs procedure. Release into free circulation requires payment of duty where applicable.

Online Automated Entry

The Irish Revenue uses the automated entry processing (AEP) system. Traders may be approved for direct trader input (DTI) to the system.

In the United Kingdom traders connect to the customs handling of import and export freight (CHIEF) system and input the data electronically. The data may be returned by the trader or an agent who was approved to use the system.

Paper Copies

The paper version of the single administrative document is colour-coded. Copies 1,2,3 and 5 have a coloured continuous right margin coloured respectively

  • first copy red
  • second copy green
  • third copy yellow
  • fifth copy blue

Copies 4,6,7 and 8 have a coloured broken right margin coloured respectively

  • fourth copy blue
  • sixth copy red
  • seventh copy green
  • eight copy yellow

The forms and continuation forms are used from a set of eight copies.

Use of the Copies

  • copy 1 is kept by the authorities of the Member State in which export (dispatch) or Union transit formalities are completed,
  • copy 2 is used for statistical purposes by the Member State of export. This copy can be used aswell for statistical purposes by the Member State of dispatch in cases of trade between parts of the customs territory of the Union with a different fiscal regime,
  • copy 3 is returned to the exporter after being stamped by the customs authority,
  • copy 4 is kept by the office of destination upon completion of the Union transit operation or as the document providing evidence of the customs status of Union goods,
  • copy 5 is the return copy for the Union transit procedure,
  • copy 6 is kept by the authorities of the Member State in which import formalities are completed,
  • copy 7 is used for statistical purposes by the Member State of import. This copy can be used as well for statistical purposes by the Member State of import in cases of trade between parts of the customs territory of the Union with a different fiscal regime,
  • copy 8 is returned to the consignee.

Copies Required

Not all copies are required in each case. Various combinations are therefore possible, such as:

  • export, outward processing or re-export: copies 1, 2 and 3,
  • Union transit: copies 1, 4 and 5,
  • customs procedures at import: copies 6, 7 and 8.

Each must contain identical information.

Forms contain boxes, some of which are required depending on the particular customs procedure involved.

Guidance of Forms and Codes

The customs authority publish guidance in a tabular form of the boxes which must be completed for each relevant procedure. There are a significant number of permutations. Different states may waive the completion of certain boxes, and these are shown in the published guidance.

Only the numbered boxes in the form are for completion by the user. The other boxes identified by a capital letter are for administrative use in the hardcopy form. The lodging of the form of the relevant codes constitutes a declaration with the legal consequences that follow.

Overview of Principal Boxes

Box 1

Box 2 identifies the consignor of the goods i.e. the sender.

Box 4 sets out the number of loading lists

Box 5 sets out the total number of items the subject of the declaration.

Box 6 sets out the total number of packages the subject of the declaration.

Box 7 allows entry of reference number if desired

Box 8 identifies the recipient of the goods.

Box 14 identifies the type of representative if any involved and contact details

Box 15 requires the country of dispatch for controlled goods that require a full licensing declaration at the frontier

Box 18 identifies the means of transport on which goods are loaded.

Box 21 sets out the name and nationality of the means of transport at the point of crossing the EU border.

Box 22 sets out the currency and total amount for customs valuation purposes for currencies other than the domestic currency (/euro or sterling as the case may be)

Box 25 sets out the one digit code for the mode of transport used at the border.

Box 26 sets out the mode of transport at the trader’s inland facilities where applicable

Box 30 sets out the location of the goods by country code by location code and by sheds/identity code. The codes are set out in the Tariff .

Box 31 describes the goods and packaging to enable identification. It should give the identification number of a freight container where applicable.

Box 32 enters the declared number of goods in sequence

Box 33 sets out the commodity code from the tariff. An additional four digits apply to agricultural goods subject to CAP variable charges or anti-dumping duties.

Box 34 sets out the country of origin if a common agricultural policy export refund is being given;  If applicable it must set out the last country of substantial processing

Box 35 sets out the gross mass of goods and packaging.

Box 36 was be completed when goods are entering free circulation from outside the EU.

Box 37 identifies the Customs procedure code under the declaration. This could be for example release to free circulation and payment of duty if applicable.

Box 38 sets out the weight in kilograms of goods without packaging.

Box 39 sets out relief from duty against the tariff quota. The three digit code determines whether any relief applies.

Box 41: Where more than one of quantity is shown against a commodity code box 41 is to set out to 3 decimal places the quantity of duty  being paid. Otherwise, it is rounded up to the nearest whole number.

Box 42 sets out the item price

Box 43 sets out the method of valuation used.

Box 44 sets out a code for the valuation for the goods. Where a quota is claimed other documentation required to support the application must be set out in this box. Additional information about the consignment such as certificate or authorisation codes must be set out.

Box 45 sets out the terms on which the invoice has been raised to allow for judgements

Box 46 sets out the statistical value of the goods in the domestic currency

Box 45 has five columns which must be completed for each duty or tax on goods that are declared the columns are

  • type (code to identify what tax or duties are declared
  • base (the value or quantity to calculate tax and duty)
  • rate (information relating to the rate applied)
  • amount (how much is due)
  • method of payment

Box 48 sets out the codes for deferment of payment at importation.

Box 49 sets out the codes for identification of warehouses


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