Customs glossary

If you are exporting or importing for the first-time, all the codes, acronyms and terminology can be daunting.

Here is a glossary with some explanations of the important acronyms you are likely to come across related to the movement of goods.

Once you’ve learnt the basics, finding and developing new markets for products is a very valuable avenue for expansion for UK businesses – and if you need any assistance, our team here at Portico are ready to help.

Want to find out more? Try our customs calculator to get a quote.

computer in customs
AAD: Administrative Accompanying Document

A paper document that goes with the shipment for excise taxation produced in the EMCS system.

AD: Accompanying Document

The TAD document (T1, T2, etc) is produced with a barcode, which goes with the freight.

ADD: Anti-Dumping Duties

These are extra duties imposed on imports from specific countries in addition to the normal or preferential customs duty. They can be introduced where the export price is below the normal value, so importing the goods can’t flood the market.

AEO: Authorised Economic Operator

Authorised Economic Operator status is an internationally recognised quality mark that shows your business’s role in the international supply chain is secure and has customs control procedures that meet Authorised Economic Operator standards and criteria. Portico holds AEO status with HMRC. 

BCP: Border Control Post

Most consignments of animals, animal products and products of non-animal origin from must come through a Border Control Post (BCP), previously known as a Border Inspection Post (BIP).  This includes from EU countries, following the departure of the UK from the EU. These rules apply to both commercial and personal traffic. Find out more about the UK’s timetable for checks.

BTI: Binding Tariff Information

A Binding Tariff Information (BTI) decision is a written tariff classification for goods from HMRC. It provides assurance that goods have the correct commodity code, and it is generally valid for 3 years.

C88: Export or Import Declaration

See “Single Administrative Document” (SAD)

C of O: Certificate of Origin

This certificate proves that your goods have been manufactured or processed in a particular country. A Certificate of Origin is usually required for overseas customs clearance and can determine the level of duties payable.

The document should include the name and address of the exporter, the manufacturer (if different), the importer and a description and origin of the goods.

CDS: Customs Declaration Service

The Customs Declaration Service will be the long-term replacement for the current CHIEF (Customs Handling Imports and Export Freight) platform.

CFSP: Customs Freight Simplified Procedures

A simplified import entry procedure used in the UK. Most traders use an intermediary such as Portico to deal with their declarations.

CHIEF: Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight

CHIEF is the computerised operating system and interface used in the UK by HMRC which is responsible for controlling and recording all of the UK’s international trade movements. It links UK Customs offices to thousands of sea-and airports, inland facilities, freight Customs agents, UK businesses and European Customs authorities.

CPC: Customs Procedure Code

HMRC uses CPCs to identify the reason for the export or import and therefore the relevant customs regime.

EAD: Export Accompanying Document

An EAD is a document that accompanies goods to the office of exit.

EIDR: Entry In Declarants Records

Allows you to enter goods to a customs procedure without the need to provide a full customs entry a later date.

EMCS: Excise Movement and Control System

Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS) is a UK and EU-wide computer system that’s used to record duty suspended movements of excise goods taking place within the UK and the EU.

EORI: Economic Operators Registration And Identification System

All businesses within the UK, from sole traders upwards, need an EORI Number when importing or exporting any commercial cargo from or to the rest of the world. You can apply for one online.

EXS: Exit Summary Declaration

If you’re moving goods outside the UK, you’ll need to make an exit summary declaration if you’ve not fulfilled safety and security requirements with a customs export declaration.

Most goods being exported will be covered by an export declaration containing safety and security information, so an exit summary declaration is not a common requirement.

GVMS: Goods Vehicle Movement Service

The UK is introducing a Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) to capture details of vehicles and the declarations for the goods using ro-ro services.

GVMS will enable hauliers, port operators and carriers to use a single  reference for a vehicle or trailer to process it on arrival and departure at the port,  so that on arrival in GB the majority of goods will flow without further intervention.

IPAFFS: Import of products, animals, food and feed system

IPAFFS is the system for the import of live animals, animal products and high risk food and feed not of animal origin into Great Britain.

LoA: Letter of Authority

A legal document that authorises a third party – often known as the ‘agent’ – to correspond with services on behalf of your or your business – known as the ‘principal’. The letter will specify the tasks the third party can handle for the principal.

NCTS: New Computerised Transit System

An electronic platform which is used for any goods travelling under Union Transit in the EU.

MRN: Movement Reference Number

This is the unique reference number generated, when an export or import declaration is produced.

SAD: Single Administrative Document

This document is needed for imports and exports in and out of the UK. It’s also known as the C88.

TAD: Transport Authorised Document

The TAD accompanies the goods, where a transit declaration is processed at an office of departure by the NCTS.

TRACES: Trade Control and Expert System

An online platform used for the importation of animals, animal products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants into the EU. It also handles the intra-EU trade and EU exports of animals and certain animal products.