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Customs doesn't need to be complicated. Find out the meaning of common terms used in international trade.


A duty based on a percentage of the value of the goods.

A party involved in the international movement of goods, in whatever function that has been approved by or on behalf of a national Customs administration, as complying with WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards.

A protectionist tariff that a domestic government imposes on imports that it believes are priced below fair market value.

An international customs document that permits the tax-free and duty-free temporary export and import of non-perishable goods for up to one year.

A party authorised to receive goods without needing to present the goods and transit accompanying document to customs at the customs office.

A party authorised to declare goods without presenting them or the transit declaration at the office of departure.


A financial guarantee required by customs authorities to ensure that duties and taxes are paid for imported goods.

EU approved entry points for products of animal origin, originating in countries outside the EU.

The Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) is a new approach by the UK Government to the importation of animals, plants and plant products, designed to modernise the border and speed up controls. It came into effect on the 31st of January 2024.


Customs Comprehensive Guarantee, an agreement to cover any customs debt from certain customs special procedures. Covers duty, import VAT and when moving goods under transit.

Customs Declaration Service is HMRC’s customs declaration platform.

A document that identifies the country of origin of the goods that are being imported or exported.

Customs Freight Simplified Procedures.

Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight, the HMRC system being phased out and replaced by CDS.

Customs Procedure Code.

Internationally recognised reference numbers classifying a specific product when importing or exporting goods.  The code has 10 digits for imports and 8 digits for exports.

Goods that can be moved between EU member states without restriction.

Individual or company responsible for the receipt of a shipment.

Individual or company sending the shipment.

Community System Providers interface with HMRC at both borders and ports.

Common Transit Convention, used for moving goods between the common transit countries (ie. EU member states, UK and EFTA countries).

An individual or company that assists with the import or export of goods by managing customs procedures, tariffs, and other regulatory requirements.


A penalty or charge from a shipping company or port authority for failure to load or unload goods within the time allowed.

European Union registration and identification number for businesses which undertake the import or export of goods into or out of the EU.

The tax levied on imports or exports by customs authorities.

A mechanism to defer the payment of customs debt.


Export Accompanying Document.

Entry in Declarant’s Records.

Excise Movement Control System.

Entry Summary Declaration (UK import).

Economic Operators Registration and Identification number.  All UK businesses that import or export goods require an EORI number.

External Temporary Storage Facility.

The process of sending goods or services from one’s own country to a foreign country.

Exit Summary Declaration (UK Export).


An agreement between two or more countries that eliminates or reduces tariffs and other trade barriers.


Goods Movement Reference.

Goods Vehicle Movement Service.


A standardized system of coding used to classify goods for customs purposes.

Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System – see Commodity Code.


The process of bringing goods or services from a foreign country into one’s own country.

International Commercial Terms are terms of trade for the sale of goods, outlining the responsibilities of sellers and buyers.  More information can be found here.

Inward Processing Relief is a customs regime allowing goods to be imported into the UK for processing without paying duty and VAT on the initial movement.


Movement Reference Number.

Master Unique Consignment Reference.


New Computerised Transit System, used to submit Common or Union Transit declarations electronically.


Outward Processing Relief.

The economic nationality of goods in international trade.


Postponed VAT Accounting, allows UK VAT registered businesses to account for import VAT on their periodic VAT return.


Roll on, Roll off vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo.

The criteria used to determine the country of origin of goods for customs purposes.


Single Administrative Document.

Safety & Security Declaration – applicable to all imports.

Sanitary and phytosanitary (S&P) controls –  pertain specifically to the import of live animals, animal products, plants, and plant products.

The Single Trade Window is an upcoming service that the UK government will plan to introduce.

When fully operational, the Single Trade Window will provide a gateway between businesses and UK border processes and systems, allowing users to meet their import, export and transit obligations by submitting information once, and in one place.


Transit Accompanying Document.

A tax imposed by a government on goods imported into a country.

A customs procedure that allows goods to be brought into a country on a temporary basis without payment of duties or taxes.

A web-based veterinarian certification tool used by the European Union for controlling the import and export of live animals and animal products within and without its borders.

The process of moving goods across a country or countries to reach their final destination.

The T1 document is a shipping note which enables the transportation of goods cross border between non-EU and EU countries and their respective customs offices, without incurring any charges.

A T1 means that import and customs charges will not have to be paid until the goods are at the destination country. The T1 document essentially acts as a guarantee to show that any relevant charges and tax will be paid once the freight is at its destination, in order to retain control of the goods.


The process of determining the value of goods for customs purposes, which may impact the calculation of duties and taxes.

Vehicle Registration Number.

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