Exporting goods from the UK can be a complex process, particularly since many of the rules and regulations have changed as a result of Brexit. There are many things to consider such as what products you can export, which countries you can export to and how to ensure you are following all the rules.
In this article, we will walk you through the four stages of the export process, and explain what each stage entails. We will also discuss how to use CHIEF and NES as well as other important aspects of UK exports.
The Four Main Considerations Exporting Goods from the UK
1. Pre Lodgement
The first consideration in the export process is Pre Lodgement. This is where you will prepare your goods for export and submit all the necessary documentation to HMRC. You will need to complete an Export Declaration (EXS) which can be done online using CHIEF or NES (see below).
You will also need to research the rules and regulations of the destination country, as these may be different from those in the UK. You will need to make sure that you are declaring all the correct information on your EXS declaration, including the value of your goods, their classification and any applicable duties and taxes.
If you are using an agent or distributor to export your goods, you will need to provide them with all the relevant documentation so that they can prepare and submit it on your behalf.
The second part of the export process is where your goods arrive at customs for exporting overseas. At this stage, you will need to complete an Arrival Message (AM) on the CHIEF system and include details such as the consignment number, the type of goods and their value. You will also need to declare any duties or taxes that are payable.
It is important to note that customs may reject your goods if they do not meet the relevant rules and regulations of the destination country. You can find out more about these rules by researching the relevant country profile on the government’s website.
If you are using an agent or distributor to export your goods, they will usually handle this stage for you. However, it is important that you still keep track of where your goods are and what the status is. This can be done by checking the CHIEF system regularly.
3. Processing & Clearance
Processing and Clearance is where your goods will be inspected by customs and any applicable duties or taxes will be paid. As long as everything is in order, your goods will then be released to travel to their final destination.
If there are any problems with your goods, or if you have not paid the correct duties and taxes, they may be seized by customs. It is therefore important to make sure that you are aware of all the relevant rules and regulations of the destination country.
You can track the progress of your goods by checking the CHIEF system regularly. If there are any problems with your shipment, you should contact HMRC immediately.
Once your goods have been cleared, they will move on to the fourth stage – Departure. This is where they will be loaded onto a transport vessel and travel to their final destination.
You will need to fill out a Departure Message (DM) on the CHIEF system, which will include details such as the consignment number, the type of goods and their value. You will also need to declare any duties or taxes that are payable.
What Information do you Need to Declare?
There is a lot of information required for export declarations depending on the type of goods and destination. This information may include:
The Exporter’s UK EORI Number – This is a unique number assigned to businesses by HMRC for the purposes of customs and excise.
The Consignee’s Contact Details – This is the person or company in the destination country who will be receiving the goods.
The Commercial Reference – This is a unique code assigned to each shipment by the exporter.
The Final Destination – The country to which the goods are being exported.
The Type of Goods – This may include their classification, weight and dimensions.
The Value of Goods – The declared value of the shipment including the currency code.
Export Licence Checks – Some goods may require an export licence from HMRC before they can be shipped.
Shipping/Flight details – This includes the name of the transport vessel or aircraft, its registration number and the estimated time of arrival.
Safety & Security Data Items – Some goods may be subject to safety and security checks by customs. This information must be declared on the export declaration.
Customs Procedure Code – The code that describes the customs procedure to be followed for the shipment.
Additional Information – This may include any special instructions or requirements from the exporter.
What is CHIEF?
CHIEF is the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system, which is used to process declarations for goods being exported from the UK. It can be used to submit EXS and DM declarations online. Everybody who wants to export goods from the UK must use CHIEF.
To use CHIEF, you will need a Government Gateway account. You can register for an account on the GOV.UK website. Once you have registered for an account, you will need to set up a User ID and password. You can then log in to the CHIEF system.
The CHIEF system is easy to use and there is a user guide available on the GOV.UK website.
What is NES?
NES is the National Export System, which is used to process declarations for goods being exported from the UK to other countries. It can be used to submit AM and DM declarations online. NES is very important because it helps to ensure that goods exported from the UK meet the relevant rules and regulations of the destination country. NES is also accessed using your Government Gateway account.
Writing Arrival Messages
When your goods arrive at customs, you will need to complete an Arrival Message (AM) on the CHIEF system. The AM is used to notify customs that your goods have arrived and to provide them with:
The unique consignment reference number/CHIEF entry reference/ Movement Reference Number
The date and time of arrival
Location of goods
You will need to submit an AM for each consignment of goods that arrives at the destination country. Once CHIEF receives the AM, your goods will be assigned one of six “Routes”. These are:
Route 0 – Route not yet known
Route 1 – Supporting documents to be examined
Route 2 – Documents and Goods to be examined
Route 3 – Permission to Progress – Subject to post-clearance checks
Route 6 – Permission to Progress – no post-clearance checks
Route F – Applies to entries with unresolved FEC (Front End Credibility) failures
Depending on the assigned route, your goods may need to be processed by customs before they can be released.
You can find more information about the different routes in the CHIEF user guide.
Writing Departure Messages
Similarly, once your goods have left customs, you will need to complete a Departure Message (DM) on the CHIEF system. This will notify customs that your goods have departed and can be sent by Automatic Community System Providers processing at airports or ports, an approved operator such as a port operator or by HMRC who assumes the role of the loader.
The departure message must contain the following information:
UCR or CHIEF reference
Place of loading
Flag code of vessel
Vessels name/ flight or train number
Mode of transport code
Making EXS Declarations
An EXS Declaration is a declaration for goods being exported from the UK to the EU and beyond. Previously, there was no requirement for an EXS declaration when exporting to the EU but that changed on 1/10/2021.
You will need to provide the following information on an EXS Declaration:
The UCR or CHIEF reference
Country of destination
Nature of goods (e.g. commercial goods, personal effects)
Description of goods
Value of goods
Unit of measurement
Number of packages/units being exported
Mode of transport code and port/airport code where the goods will be loaded