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Blogs | 9 December 2021

Safety & Security requirements for UK imports and exports

The dates in this blog post might be outdated. For the most up-to-date information, please consult our UK landing page.

The UK left the EU on 31 January, 2020 and the end of that year marked the conclusion of the transition period, leaving the UK outside of the EU’s Safety and Security zone. This means new UK formalities are being introduced to address safety and security of goods entering and leaving the UK.

Safety & Security requirements for UK imports and exports

Safety and Security (S&S) declaration compliance dates

  • Beginning 1 October 2021, Safety and Security (S&S) declarations became due on goods leaving the UK in RoRo vehicles and for empty containers, pallets, and vehicles moving to the EU under a transport contract.

  • Beginning 1 July 2022, declarations will become due on goods being imported to the UK from the EU and other territories that are not already subject to S&S declarations. This will align all countries with the existing model for Rest of World (RoW) trade with the UK.

S&S exemptions for Northern Ireland

S&S regulations mandate pre-arrival information for all consignments entering the UK, with exemptions for most consignments from Northern Ireland (NI):

  • No Entry Summary (ENS) declaration is needed for goods entering the rest of the UK from NI.
  • No export declarations or Exit Summary (EXS) declarations need to be submitted for goods leaving NI to the rest of the UK.

The only exceptions to these arrangements between the UK and NI will be for goods falling within procedures that relate to specific international obligations binding the UK and the EU, for example, obligations on the movement of endangered species or situations where traders want to use Special Procedures.

These arrangements do not apply to goods exported from the Republic of Ireland to the UK or from the rest of the EU to the UK.

Exit Summary (EXS) Declarations



The Safety and Security requirements for an export out of the UK are met by the safety and security information included in the customs export declaration, however, if no export declaration is needed, then a separate EXS must be filed. A standalone EXS is not common but may be needed in cases where the submission of customs (fiscal) information is not required, such as: 

  • Empty pallets, containers and vehicles being moved under a transport contract to the EU (and to other countries for which pre-departure declarations were not required before 31 December 2020).
  • Goods that have remained in temporary storage for more than 14 days.
  • Goods that have remained in temporary storage for less than 14 days but the import ENS details are unknown or the destination consignee has changed.

Goods that are being moved under transit using either a Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) or a Transit Security Accompanying Document (TSAD).


Responsible parties

The legal requirement to submit an EXS declaration lies with the 'operator of the active means of transport', e.g., the vessel, aircraft, train, or road vehicle on or in which the goods depart the Customs territory, in this case the UK. The operator is generally referred to as the carrier, which also includes ferry operators and Eurotunnel operators, as opposed to "hauliers", which are the companies transporting the goods on a truck/lorry.


The rail freight operator who is authorised to drive the train through the Channel Tunnel into the EU is responsible for submitting the EXS declaration. 

Deep-sea maritime and air

The legal obligation to submit the EXS declaration lies with the party that has contracted and issued the bill of lading or an air waybill to carry goods out of the UK. Hence, the shipping company or vessel operator is responsible for the sea and the air carrier or air cargo operator for airways. 


The haulier or haulage company is responsible for lodging the EXS declaration for 'accompanied' goods and the ferry operator for 'unaccompanied' goods. When a ferry is transporting an unaccompanied trailer or container, the active means of transport is the ferry, even when the trailer or container is attached to a truck when it arrives at its destination.


How to file an EXS declaration

Export declarations, including EXS declarations, are filed on the HMRC Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) based National Export System (NES). If you're filing the declaration yourself, you'll need to apply to HMRC for access to CHIEF or you will need to be registered with NES to send in your declarations via either web, email, xml format, or Community Systems Providers (CSPs). CSPs run the major inventory-linked ports around the UK and issue badges for non-inventory-links ports.


Simplify the process with CAS

The EXS can be combined with the export declaration itself. If you are using Holyhead, Dover, the Eurotunnel, or any non-inventory linked ports to export via RoRo, there is no need to issue a separate EXS in addition to the export declaration. Instead, a full export declaration (type EXA) can be filed containing all the necessary S&S data. To flag to CHIEF that a combined EX/EXS is being used, the new customs procedure code (CPC) 10 00 056 needs to be entered in the EXA. For shipments using modes of transport other than RoRo exiting through either inventory-linked ports or non-inventory-linked ports, the standard EXS procedure applies. CAS automates this entire process, taking into account the port you are using and the mode of transport applied to determine which declaration should be filed, making compliance with these new changes effortless. 


Do you have questions about what is required for different types of ports: inventory-linked ports, non-inventory-linked ports, and ports using GVMS? Watch our video!


Arrival status

At the departure frontier location, the EXS must be 'arrived' in CHIEF, which will trigger risk assessment by HMRC to determine if checks are necessary or not. If no checks are necessary, the goods will be released to be loaded for export. Otherwise, the check will be carried out by someone at the location who is an approved 'loader' before the goods are released. This may be:

  • A Port Operator, via an inventory-linked system
  • A Port Operator, directly into CHIEF if they hold an approved 'loader' badge. 

Using CAS, you can submit an arrived EXS declaration before the arrival of the goods. The CAS Notification API transmits feedback and status updates on shipments directly to your system or a third party’s, providing immediate notification of tasks that require action.

At non-inventory-linked locations, if CHIEF arrival facilities are not available, the approved 'loader' can request that HMRC enter the arrival status in the system by submitting the form C1601 to the National Clearance Hub (NCH). Typically, this will be done by your carrier.


Departure notification

When the arrival has been notified, CHIEF will complete a final risk analysis and inform the outcome of either Clearance to Depart (also referred to as Permission to Progress) or request further documentary or physical customs checks.

For accompanied movements, the haulier must present the GMR to the carrier for validation. Once validation has been completed, the carrier can allow the haulier to embark. When the goods have left the UK port, a departure notification must be submitted in CHIEF, enabling customs to process the UCR further.

At non-inventory linked locations, if CHIEF departure facilities are not available, the approved 'loader' can request that HMRC enter the departure status in the system by submitting the form C1602 to the National Clearance Hub (NCH). Typically, this will be done by your carrier.


The impact of GVMS

Some locations will be using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) as their chosen Customs Control Model. GVMS is already used for imports into the UK when goods are moving under the Common Transit Convention (CTC) procedure.

On 1 January, 2022, the GVMS and pre-lodgment model will take effect at certain ports to control goods from the EU into Great Britain. Once you have received the EXS MRN and DUCR, you will need to make sure you add them to the Goods Movement Reference (GMR). You can create a GMR up to 28 days before the movement commences and make any needed updates prior to check-in, after which no more changes may be made. If you have already created your GMR, you can add the EXS MRN and DUCR to the existing GMR when you get them.


Arrived Declaration

Some ports lack the physical space to conduct customs checks. Therefore, some locations operate with Inland Border Facilities and require an 'arrived' declaration to be submitted. Submit an 'arrived' EXS (using the Full Declaration type) if:

  • you are exporting goods or empties from the UK to the EU by RoRo via a non-inventory-linked location.
  • you are exporting goods or empties from the UK to the EU by any transport mode via Dover, Holyhead, or the Eurotunnel. For this 'arrived' EXS process, you should submit the Export Full Declaration (EFD) in CHIEF and you will need to enter the CPC 10 00 056. You will need to declare the declaration type (Box 1) as 'EXA'. Once the EXS is accepted, you will be issued a Movement Reference Number (MRN). The declarant will be notified by CHIEF whether Permission to Progress (P2P) has been given or if further checks are required.

Trucks should not proceed to the border location until P2P is received or you are asked to do so. Because the EXS is submitted as 'arrived', you do not need to submit a separate 'arrival' notification into CHIEF.

At non-inventory-linked locations with no CHIEF facilities, submitting the arrived EXS means that it is not necessary to ask the NCH to submit an arrival notification on the loader’s behalf. Once P2P is received, you can proceed to the port of exit and depart the UK. Once the goods have left the UK port, a departure notification must be submitted in CHIEF, enabling customs to process the UCR further.


Timelines for EXS submission

You must present your EXS to customs before export so that it can be risk assessed. The Safety and Security information must be submitted a specific number of hours before leaving a UK port. The way the goods, empty containers, pallets, or vehicles are transported affects how far in advance the information must be provided.


How you’re shipping your goods

When to submit

Maritime deep-sea containerised cargo

At least 24 hours before loading

Short sea voyages

at least 2 hours before leaving the port

Air traffic

at least 30 minutes before departure from the airport

Rail traffic

at least 2 hours before the goods leave the Union territory

Road traffic and inland waterways

at least 1 hour before departure



You can amend an EXS after the initial submission if certain information changes, such as the ferry company used or the time of arrival. However, you can only amend up until the point of customs clearance.

EXS exemptions

Empty pallets, containers, and vehicles not being moved under a transport contract are exempt from S&S declarations. This is permanent, retained from the Union Customs Code.


Would you like to forget about details like port type, mode of transport, and which declaration you should be using? Automate your declaration process from end to end with CAS. Schedule a demo now.

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