A Guide to Export Compliance

Why is compliance important?

Failure to comply can lead to…..

  • Costly delays at the port/airport/border
  • Duty relief being disallowed
  • VAT zero rating being disallowed
  • Penalties
  • Impact on AEO and other authorisations

Are you responsible…?

“Without prejudice to the possible application of penal provisions, the lodging of a declaration signed by the declarant or his representative with a customs office or a transit declaration lodged using electronic data-processing techniques shall render the declarant or his representative responsible under the provisions in force for:

  • the accuracy of the information given in the declaration,
  • the authenticity of the documents presented, and
  • compliance with all the obligations relating to the entry of the goods in question under the procedure concerned.”

Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93 – Laying down provisions for the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code

Some important terminology

  • Export – The movement of goods to a destination outside the customs territory of the EU.
  • Direct export – Goods exported directly from the UK to a non-EU country.
  • Indirect export – Goods declared for export in the UK leaving the EU via another Member State.
  • Office of Export – The customs office where the formalities for assigning goods leaving the customs territory of the EU are to be completed
  • Office of Exit – The customs office to which goods must be presented before they leave the customs territory of the EU
  • Loader – The parties responsible for receiving, presenting and loading goods for export from the UK, approved by HMRC to submit arrival and departure messages.
  • Declarant – The person legally responsible for the accuracy of the information given in the declaration, the authenticity of the documents which relate to it and, compliance with all the obligations relating to the entry of the goods under the procedure concerned.

Making an Export Declaration

  • Virtually all export declarations are ‘pre-lodged’
  • The declaration is made before the goods are presented to customs
  • The declaration at this point is not legally accepted
  • 3rd character of box 1 – Declaration Type – is D, F or K

Presentation of Goods

  • Legal requirement:
  • Carry out risk analysis and;
  • Exercise controls (such as licence checks etc.) and inspect paperwork/goods if necessary
  • Although it is usually the carrier/port operator who actually notifies customs of the arrival of goods, it is your responsibility to make sure it is done.
  • You will receive an X2 (entry acceptance advise) once the goods are presented
  • If you don’t receive an X2 you should investigate immediately

Arrival & Departure Messages

Direct Exports (goods exported from EU directly from the UK):

  • Arrival & Departure messages are both required

Indirect Exports (goods exported via another EU Member State):

  • Arrival message required
  • No Departure message required as goods are not exported until they leave the EU

Indirect Exports

  • Goods which actually exit the EU via another member state
  • Must be accompanied by an EAD (Export Accompanying Document)
  • The declaration must include the ‘office of exit’ reference in box 29
  • Unless the goods are declared as travelling under a single transport contract (STC)
  • The EAD must be presented to customs at the Office of Exit

Evidence of Export

  • Can take many forms:
  • Movement Departure Advice (S8)
  • Screen print from CHIEF
  • Export Accompanying Document (EAD) – Indirect exports
  • Assumed Departure Messages are not acceptable as evidence of export

Goods Departure

Is important because …

  • It provides evidence of export – to support VAT zero rating
  • You should receive an S8 (Movement Departure Advice):
  • Immediately on export from the UK for direct exports
  • On exit from the EU for indirect exports (covered by an EAD)
  • If you are sure goods have departed but have not received an S8 after 24 hours you should investigate immediately

Statistical Value

  • GBP, regardless of the currency in which the goods are invoiced
  • The value to be declared is the FOB
  • You should have a consistent policy/procedure in place for accurately calculating the FOB value

Invoice Currency

  • Required where the value of the goods declared exceeds ?100,000
  • Box 22 – Invoice Currency
  • Invoice value (at header level) is not required


  • Goods sold ex-works…so who is the exporter?
  • It could be YOU!

Declaring Goods for Export

The responsibility for lodging an export declaration lies with the “contracting party established in the EU”. CCCIP – 2454/93 Article 788(2) “where ownership or a similar right of disposal over the goods belongs to a person established outside the Community pursuant to the contract on which the is based, the exporter shall be considered to be the contracting party established in the Community”.

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