Last reviewed 5 January 2022

Full export declarations are now required for exports to the EU and have been required for many years for exports to other countries. There are differing rules for different modes of transport and for different points of export.

From 1 January 2022 a departure message is a requirement for all exports. Where the Inventory Linked system or the Goods Vehicle Movement System is available, this will be generated automatically. Where these are not available, it is necessary to confirm to HMRC that the goods have left the UK by completing form C. 1602 so that a departure message can be generated. The form is available from the Government website.

Arrived declarations

From 1 January 2022 only specified locations can submit export declarations as “arrived” before the goods start their journey. Prior to this date all roll on roll off ports and some other listed locations could use this method. Since 1 January 2022 only specified locations can make export declarations as “arrived”.

The specified locations include the Channel Tunnel Terminal, Dover Docks, Fishguard and Holyhead. Heysham, Liverpool and Pembroke use the arrived and pre-lodged declarations methods. After submitting the declaration, the business may receive a message requiring a documentation check (route 1) or for the goods to be physically checked (route 2). Further information is available on the Government website, specifically where to undertake the necessary checks.

Pre-lodged declarations

All other exports need declarations to be pre-lodged. The time of lodgement will depend upon the type of movement:

  • road and inland waterways — at least one hour before departure

  • sea — two hours before leaving port, if the goods are going to Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Black Sea or the Mediterranean; other sea movements need to be declared 24 hours before they are loaded onto a vessel on which they are leaving the UK; goods in a container need to be declared 2 hours before they leave port

  • air — 30 minutes before departure from the airport

  • rail — one hour before you arrive at the office of exit, when the journey time from the last train station at which the train was formed to the customs office of exit takes less than two hours, or in all other cases at least two hours before the goods leave the UK.


Declarations need to include all customs details such as the:

  • customs procedure code

  • commodity codes

  • unique consignment reference

  • departure point and destination

  • consignee and consignor

  • type, amount and packaging of the goods

  • transport methods and costs

  • currencies

  • valuation methods

  • any necessary certificates and licences.

For arrived export declarations “A” is to be entered into box 1 in CHIEF or data element ½ in the Customs Declaration Service. For Pre-lodged export declarations code “D” is to be used.