UK Port Processes
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.
- 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).
What is the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (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 introduced by HMRC in January 2021 for faster clearance of goods, and to capture the details of vehicles and declarations for Northern Ireland ports that are not inventory linked.
GVMS links the Movement Reference Numbers (MRNs) for all pre-lodged declarations in a shipment to a single Goods Movement Record (GMR) that specifies the truck/trailer license plate. Each GMR contains details for a single crossing by one vehicle and can be used only once. The haulier only needs to present the GMR to the carrier (ferry, shuttle train) at the frontier to prove that all of their goods have pre-lodged declarations.
GVMS can also be used for digital Offices of Transit. Transit regulations require that goods be presented at the customs Office of Transit at the border when a transit shipment enters a country. GVMS-linked ports provide the Office of Transit function “digitally”. This means that lorries do not need to pass physically via an Office of Transit.
How does GVMS work?
Upon check-in at the port, the carrier will use GVMS to verify the GMR presented to them and cross-check the details on the GMR with the vehicle. Vehicles will be turned away at check-in if a valid GMR cannot be presented or if their registration number(s) do not match those on the GMR.
GVMS allows for automatic arrival in CHIEF and CDS as soon as goods board at the EU side so that UK import declarations can be processed by HMRC en route to the UK. Once the vehicle and/or trailers have embarked on the crossing, the status in GVMS will be updated to EMBARK. The platform sends an electronic notification through CHIEF or CDS when inbound goods are successfully cleared before they arrive in the UK, allowing them to quickly pass through customs.
If the GVMS determines that the movement requires inspection, a notification will be sent within 30 minutes after embarkation. Those vehicles must report to a customs inspection centre upon arrival, where customs officials will update GVMS once the property has been cleared.
For transit shipments, the transit declaration will be automatically updated in NCTS on the basis of the TAD data entered in GVMS prior to departure in the EU. In order for this to work, the haulier/transport companies must receive the TAD/MRN from the trader and input the data in GVMS along with the license plate number of truck/trailer. Transit movements do not require a CSP badge, however an NCTS UK badge is required to end the transit movement.
Where is GVMS used?
GVMS is not available at all ports; only border locations using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service to support pre-lodged Customs Controls. HMRC has published a list of ports using GVMS.
GVMS was introduced in January 2021 only for transit movements from the EU and for goods moving from GB to NI, and is now in place for all imports and exports at GB port locations which have chosen to use it. Border locations receiving goods that are moving into GB from the EU will be able to choose between two models for customs control: the traditional temporary storage model or the new pre-lodgement model.
On December 15, 2021, HMRC extended staged customs controls for goods moving from the island of Ireland into Great Britain. Where pre-lodgement of declarations is required, carriers will not be required to use GVMS or notify HMRC when the vessel or aircraft carrying the goods has embarked for Great Britain.
How do I use GVMS?
In order to move goods through GVMS ports, the person or business responsible for moving the goods must first register for the GVMS with HMRC. This will require a Government Gateway User ID and a GB EORI number.
HMRC has published a GVMS end-to-end guide to assist traders with using APIs to connect to the platform. Using APIs, users are able to:
- Create a new Goods Movement Record (GMR)
- Update a GMR, for example changing crossing details or adding declaration IDs
- Finalise a GMR
- List their active GMRs
- Get GMR details
- Delete a GMR
- Get GVMS reference data
How do I obtain a GMR?
Traders must obtain a GMR for each shipment. The GMR is a unique identifier, e.g., GMRI 0005 J2FN, issued by HMRC to identify the record. The GMR specifies:
- the direction of the crossing
- the registration number of the vehicle making the crossing (unless the movement will be unaccompanied)
- the trailer numbers of all trailers attached to the vehicle
- details of the planned crossing, if available, including the departure and arrival port, carrier, and departure time
- whether the vehicle arriving at check-in will accompany the movement on the crossing
- MRNs for all goods within the vehicle and its trailers that require them
- safety and security declaration references for all goods within the vehicle and its trailers that require them
- transit declaration references for all goods within the vehicle and its trailers that require them
- EIDR, ATA, and TIR declaration references
Depending on whether your movement is import, export, or transit, there are different requirements to get a GMR. HMRC has outlined which documents and data will be needed for each kind of shipment in this guidance.
Further Simplifying Customs Clearance
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