Skip to content
Blogs | 2 July 2023

Understanding the different processes used at different UK ports

There are two types of ports in the UK: inventory linked and non-inventory linked. Each type of port has its own processes and requirements, so it is important to know which type of port you are planning to use to avoid delays. 

  • Inventory-linked ports operate either Temporary Storage (TS) or the Mixed model (TS/GVMS). The Mixed model allows for RoRo (Roll-on-Roll-off) terminals at the port to adopt GVMS, while other terminals at the same port use the Temporary Storage model. For Temporary Storage, the customs declaration is linked to the port's inventory system, which interfaces with CHIEF/CDS for electronic customs clearance.

    GVMS is integrated with CHIEF/CDS and the inventory system. The pre-lodgement model must be used at import and GVMS facilitates the automatic release of goods from the inventory for both accompanied and unaccompanied goods. For GVMS exports, the declaration follows either the Arrived or Standard export process, depending on the port of exit. GVMS facilitates the departure message.

  • Non-inventory-linked ports are linked to GVMS and the process differs based on whether the goods are being imported (pre-lodged declarations) or exported (Arrived or Standard process may apply).

Watch our inventory & non-inventory ports video to learn more.

What is GVMS?

The Goods Vehicle Movement Service, or GVMS, is used for imports, exports, and transit with pre-lodged declarations. GVMS is connected to CHIEF and CDS and allows for the immediate release of goods with pre-lodged declarations as soon as they arrive in the UK.

GVMS was initially introduced in January 2021 for transit movements from the EU and to capture the details of vehicles and declarations for Northern Ireland ports that are not inventory linked. Beginning January 1, 2022, GVMS has been extended to movements between GB and the EU for both imports and exports via GB RoRo port locations. Visit the HMRC website for a list of ports using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service. For details on how to register for GVMS and what information will be needed to obtain the required Goods Movement Reference, please refer to our blog: What you need to know about Goods Vehicle Movement Service.


Discover how GVMS works in CAS:



The Role of Community System Providers (CSPs)

In the UK, inventory-linked ports are connected to a Community System Provider, or CSP, and follow specific customs clearance procedures. CSPs provide network services to port communities and interface with CHIEF and CDS. There are five CSPs in the UK, each covering a different community of ports. To access a CSP’s systems, you need to subscribe to and pay for a badge, which gives you electronic access to the respective provider’s port system.

Inventory-linked ports in the UK are affiliated with one of five CSPs:

  • CNS (system name Compass) deals with maritime container and RoRo traffic for ports such as Portsmouth and Tilbury, as well as express air couriers at airports including London Heathrow and Gatwick.

  • MCP (system name Destin8) deals with maritime container and RoRo traffic at ports including Tilbury, Hull, Immingham, Purfleet, Liverpool, and Felixstowe.

  • CCS-UK deals with air cargo movements at most UK airports.

  • DHL Aviation is used by DHL for their own shipments.

  • Descartes (system name Pentant) deals with Roll-on-Roll-off (RoRo) shipments at Dover, along with a variety of smaller ports.

C4T have created a CSP Connectivity at a Glance reference guide (up to date as of July 2023) which you can access here:

CSP Connectivity at a glance

Understanding the Different Processes Used at Different UK Ports


Using Inventory-Linked Ports

Temporary Storage

For goods entering through an inventory-linked port using the Temporary Storage model, the entire port handling process is linked to the initial import record created by the ship’s manifest, and declarations are associated to that item via a unique identifier. Once all goods are either cleared or offloaded, the container is free to proceed.

If you use an inventory-linked port, you will need to apply for your own badge from the CSP. It is important to note that different CSPs may be in operation at a port. This is the case at large ports, such as Tilbury, where there are several container terminals, bulk cargo terminals, and RoRo terminals. MCP manages some terminals and CNS others. Before you apply for a badge, it is recommended that you contact the CSP directly to confirm that both the port and terminal you want to apply for is indeed inventory linked and managed by that CSP.  

For goods exported using the Temporary Storage model, the export declaration is pre-lodged (type EX-D). The goods are presented to customs and “arrived” at the port which triggers a risk assessment. Following Permission to Progress (P2P) the goods are released from the inventory and the CSP submits a Departure message to CHIEF/CDS.

Mixed Model (GVMS)

For the Mixed Model, where goods are imported using GVMS, declarations must be pre-lodged and either the ERN (Entry Reference Number) for CHIEF declarations or the MRN (Movement Reference Number) for CDS must be provided with a valid GMR prior to departure from the EU. Goods are automatically released from inventory.

Using Non-Inventory Linked Ports

Non-inventory-linked ports are linked to GVMS and the process differs based on whether the goods are being imported (pre-lodged declarations) or exported (Arrived or Standard process may apply.) CHIEF declarations at non-inventory-linked ports also require a badge but it is not location or CSP specific. CAS customers can use C4T’s badge for RoRo shipments through non-inventory linked ports. CDS declarations via non-inventory linked locations can however be submitted directly and do not require a badge.

The ports of Newhaven and Sheerness operate the Standard export process, where a pre-lodged export declaration is required.

  1. A pre-lodged (Type EX-D) export declaration, containing the RRS01 AI Statement Code, will need be submitted to CHIEF/CDS before the goods leave the trader’s premises. No Exit Summary declaration is required when a combined export and Safety and Security declaration is made.
  2. The DUCR of the pre-lodged declaration must be entered in GVMS, together with details of the crossing (route) and vehicle, trailer, and container registration numbers, as appropriate.
  3. Upon release, the lorry can be driven to the port of exit where documentary and/or physical checks are performed (if selected).
  4. The export declaration will get goods arrived status at the port and P2P will be granted.
  5. Updates to the status of the GMR are automatically communicated to CAS via GVMS.

Deciding which ports to use

The types and locations of ports you use in your customs flows is a strategic decision that influences costs, operational efficiency, and entry processing speed. C4T’s customs experts can advise you on the best approach when establishing or optimising your customs flows in CAS.

Contact us today to find out more.

Stay up to date

Join our mailing list to receive notifications on upcoming legal changes, new features and functionality, and the team that brings you CAS.