Forth Ports is Brexit Ready

Border Control Requirements from 1 January 2021 for European Union Goods

The UK will leave the European Union (EU) Single Market and Customs Union at 11pm on 31 December 2020. Regardless of whether a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is reached or not with the EU, all goods passing to and from the EU will require a Customs declaration and be subject to border controls from 1 January 2021.

The UK government, appreciating the impact of COVID-19 on businesses’ ability to plan for the departure from the Customs Union, has introduced a phased approach to the introduction of border controls.

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These controls will be introduced in 3 phases and can be found in the Border Operating Model:

• Phase 1: 1 January 2021

Importers of non-controlled goods that are not moving under the Common Transit Convention (CTC or Transit), should be able to defer Customs declarations and payment of import duty for 6 months (referred to as Delayed declaration). Importers of controlled goods will need to submit Full Customs declarations. There will be physical checks at the point of destination or other approved premises on selected cargoes.

All exports will be subject to full Customs controls and must be Customs cleared before they are exported.

All import and export goods moving under Transit must have their paperwork stamped/issued from the local Transit Office before they continue/start/end their journey.

• Phase 2: 1 April 2021

Importers of Products of Animal Origin (POAO) and regulated plants and plant products will require to submit pre-import notifications and health certification, but will not be subject to physical checks at the border.

• Phase 3: 1 July 2021

From July, all goods will require Full Customs declarations at the point of import; Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks will take place at designated Border Control Posts (BCPs) at the port.

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We are Brexit Ready: Keep the flow

Forth Ports was the first multi-purpose port group to obtain Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status and has worked closely with government departments, local authorities, agencies and industry to prepare for the changes in trading arrangements. Forth Ports already has extensive experience in handling non-EU goods – as such all our ports have existing Temporary Storage approvals and I.T. systems in place to handle goods subject to Customs and border controls. All unitised cargo handled is inventory linked (Port of Tilbury, London Container Terminal (LCT), Tilbury2 and Port of Grangemouth), with LCT being linked to both Community System Providers. Forth Ports is also working with the Government to deliver enhanced and new BCPs at our facilities.

Common Transit Convention and Transit Facilities

The UK will become a party to the Common Transit Convention in its own right on 1 January 2021. Transit is a Customs procedure that allows goods to move between the EU and CTC countries with duty only being paid in the country of final destination. CTC countries are Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Turkey, Macedonia and Serbia, as well as the EU.

Port of Tilbury, Tilbury2 and Port of Grangemouth are registered as Transit Offices of Departure, Destination and Office of Transits, so can handle any unitised Transit cargo. A Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) is required to travel with cargo and must be stamped by the local Border Force Transit Office. If you are interested in moving cargo under Transit please contact our team (details below), prior to shipping:

Port of Tilbury including London Container Terminal and Tilbury2: Neil Davis can be contacted at

Port of Grangemouth: Craig Torrance can be contacted at

Are you Brexit Ready?

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From 1 January 2021, you are required to make Customs declarations when you import goods from the EU, and the rules for importing some types of goods will change. To enable you to make a Customs declaration you will need to:
• Register for an EORI number
• Establish correct HMRC Commodity codes for goods being imported
• Decide on Customs entry method based on cargo type i.e. Full declaration, Delayed declaration, CFSP entry, Transit movement
• If you use Delayed declaration, then there is a requirement to record the import of goods in your records under EIDR
• Appoint a Customs intermediary (required to be CFSP authorised for Delayed declarations) to handle your Customs declarations
• Obtain or have access to a deferment account for settlement of any import duty/VAT
Further information on Customs declarations for imports can be found here.
Forth Ports are CFSP authorised and can offer a Customs intermediary service in respect of your Customs declarations. For more information please click here.
For inventory-linked ports
HMRC have been working with Community Systems Providers to agree the temporary changes needed to inventory release processes in order to facilitate the release of non-controlled goods that will be using Delayed declarations and were EU goods immediately before they were imported into the UK. Where these have been correctly manifested these goods can be removed from the port without a Customs declaration being submitted through HMRC’s I.T. systems. The importer should ensure goods are manifested correctly by advising the shipping line/freight forwarder/Customs Agent.

For non-inventory linked ports
For controlled goods, where a declaration is required for imports, traders must pre-lodge their import declarations and will have up to the end of the next working day to notify HMRC that the goods have entered the country. The trader (or intermediary) must notify HMRC of the goods’ arrival by logging into HMRC I.T. systems and sending a digital message to HMRC confirming the goods are in the UK (HMRC systems includes entry to the Excise Movement and Control System for excise duty suspended goods). The goods (both standard and controlled) can leave the port without the trader (or intermediary) needing to notify HMRC that the goods have entered the UK.

From 1 July 2021, all goods imported from the EU will be subject to standard Customs control. There are two main Customs processes that can be used to import goods. Border locations can either use the Temporary Storage model or the newly developed Pre-Lodgement model, which is supported by a new I.T. platform called the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS).

Forth Ports will be using the Temporary Storage model at all our ports. Our I.T. systems have been developed to handle Temporary Storage cargo and have the capabilities to offer the GVMS Pre-lodgement model in the future, however, this is subject to the services offered by shipping lines.

As the ports have designated Temporary Storage areas, the goods can sit within these areas up to 90 days before the goods need to be Customs cleared, but cannot leave the port’s control until a Customs clearance declaration has been submitted and accepted by HMRC.

Please note that any delay in submitting your Customs clearance declarations after 30 June 2021 will prevent goods being released by the port, as the port can only release goods imported via Temporary Storage that have been Customs cleared by HMRC.

From 1 January 2021, you are required to make Customs declarations when you export goods from the UK to the EU – there is no phased approach in respect of exports from the UK. To enable you to make a Customs declaration you will need to:
• Register for an EORI number
• Establish correct HMRC Commodity codes for goods being exported
• Appoint a Customs intermediary to handle your Customs declarations
For inventory-linked ports
Please note the port cannot load any goods to a vessel unless a Customs declaration has been submitted and accepted by HMRC and Permission to Proceed has been granted.

For non-inventory linked ports
Traders exporting goods from UK into the EU will need to submit an Arrived export declaration for all goods. The declaration will then be instantly risked and a routing provided. If a physical check is required, the goods will be directed to a site for a check. Once all checks have been completed, or if Permission to Proceed (known as P2P) has been issued straight away, the goods can then be moved to the port and continue their journey (subject to checks for Strategic exports). If goods are brought to the port before export declaration is submitted to HMRC, the export declaration must be submitted and Permission to Proceed granted before the port can load goods to vessel.

Please note the port cannot load any goods to a vessel unless a Customs declaration has been submitted and accepted by HMRC and Permission to Proceed has been granted.
As Forth Ports is operating the Temporary Storage model from 1 January 2021, there will be no changes to the current Vehicle Booking System (VBS) process to drop off or collect unitised cargo at any of our unitised terminals.

The only change for hauliers is if they are carrying goods that are moving under Transit. Where the port acts as an Office of Departure these cargoes will require a TAD to be raised by Border Force, or where the port is acting as an Office of Transit in respect of Export, the TAD accompanying the cargo must be stamped by Border Force, and the haulier will be required to present the goods to Border Force before they deposit the unit at the relevant terminal.

Please see contacts listed under Common Transit Convention and Transit Facilities for site specific requirements.

Key Contacts

Lynsey Yeoman
Group Projects & Tax Manager
Head Office
1 Prince of Wales Dock

+44 (0) 131 555 8746

Neil Davis
Business Analysis Manager
Port of Tilbury London Limited
Leslie Ford House
RM18 7EH

+44 (0) 1375 852302

Contact Us

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Brexit Downloads

  • Brexit Customer Leaflet
  • Brexit Ready Poster
  • Forth Ports European Routing Map & UK Rail Routes


Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) – An internationally recognised quality mark that provides quicker access to some simplified Customs procedures and, in some cases, the right to fast-track shipments through some Customs and safety and security procedures.

Border Control Posts (BCPs) – From July 2021, infrastructure will be needed to meet the further requirements of full border controls on EU goods, including Customs compliance checks and SPS checks which will need to be carried out at BCPs.

Commodity Code – All goods being imported and exported shall need a commodity code. Please see here.

Controlled goods – From 1 January, traders moving controlled goods must submit a Full Customs declaration (or use Simplified Customs declaration procedures if they are authorised to do so); they must use the Customs process currently applicable at the location that they are using to move their goods, and ensure that any specific licensing requirements are fulfilled. The list of controlled goods is available here.

Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP) – An HMRC authorised procedure that allows a Simplified Frontier declaration to be submitted to HMRC at the time of import and allows the goods to flow through port, and a Supplementary declaration to be undertaken by the 4th day of the month following the date of import.

Delayed Declaration – For standard goods being imported from the EU with EU origin from 1 January to 30 June 2021, the trader can use Entry In Declarants Records (EIDR) to record the import of goods, and appoint a CFSP registered Customs intermediary to complete the Supplementary declaration within 6 months of the date of import. An authorised CFSP Customs intermediary needs to be appointed before the Supplementary declaration is completed.

Entry In Declarants Records (EIDR) – There is a minimum requirement for the Importer to record in their records to enable them to use this method. For full details of requirements please click here.

EORI number – An Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number is required for all businesses moving goods into or out of the UK. You can find further information and register for an EORI number here.

Full Declaration – These are required to be submitted to HMRC for all Controlled goods from 1 January 2021, and for all goods from 1 July, unless authorised for Simplified declarations under CFSP.

Goods Vehicle Movement System (GVMS) – An I.T. platform which supports the Pre-Lodgement model. The GVMS will allow: declaration references to be linked together so that the person moving the goods (e.g. a haulier) only has to present one single reference (Goods Movement Reference or GMR) at the frontier; the linking of the movement of the goods to declarations, enabling the automatic arrival in HMRC systems as soon as goods board vessels so that declarations can be processed en route and notification of the risking outcome of declarations in HMRC systems can be sent to the person in control of the goods by the time they physically arrive in UK ports.

Pre-lodgement – An alternative for ports that may not have the space and infrastructure to operate Temporary Storage. Border locations receiving goods that are moving into the UK from the EU will be able to choose to use a Pre-Lodgement model, where goods arriving will be required to have submitted a Customs declaration in advance of boarding on the EU side. HMRC is developing a new I.T. platform to support the Pre-Lodgement model. However, its use will not be mandatory and the choice between using a Temporary Storage and a Pre-Lodgement model will be a commercial decision for operators.

Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) – Measures to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants. There is a detailed set of rules to reduce or eliminate the possible risks of animal, plant and public health threats as well as animal and plant diseases being introduced into country by imported goods, available here.

Temporary Storage – When goods imported from outside the UK are temporarily stored under Customs control before they are placed under a special procedure, released to free circulation or exported outside the UK.