Temporary customs easements unveiled today to reduce physical contact

Wed 8 Apr 2020
Posted by: Ana Pintor
Trade News

customs easements

Short-term measures to ease the movement of goods through customs during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak were announced this morning (Wednesday, 8 April).

The temporary processes are being introduced to minimise the amount of interaction between border force staff and traders. 

This in turn should reduce the possibility of the virus being contracted or passed on between the parties and ultimately aid the fight in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Changes announced include:

1.      Traders, agents and border force staff will be able to exchange documents electronically by:

  • E-mail
  • Fax
  • Digital Photograph

2.      EU customs officials will still require hard copies of documents and these should accompany the goods as usual.  The documents to include are:

  • Transit Accompanying Document (TAD)
  • Proof of union status
  • Carnet documents

Hard copies of licenses and other documents are still required and can be posted if no other options available.

3.      Traders involved and authorised for Export Approvals can apply to extend authorisations and request additional locations. This is only available if they are authorised to use:

  • Designated Export Places
  • Customs Supervised Exports
  • Local Clearance Procedures

This allows Permission to Progress (P2P) to be requested before goods are located at the premises listed in your approval.  Applications must be made by email to:


Firms will be required to give reasons how having the extension will reduce levels of physical contact.

Traders who would normally hand over documents at the counter to enter goods into transit, can request release by contacting the relevant office.

Union goods must be at the office of departure before release and Non-Union goods can be released from approved places, i.e. Customs Warehouse.

Border Force will insist traders supply the following information:

  • Declarant name and EORI
  • Local reference number of the transit declaration
  • Office of departure and confirmation goods are on site
  • Master Reference Number (MRN)
  • Email where TAD and MRN can be sent

The outward journey cannot commence until the email is received with the TAD and MRN.  Please be aware that you may be requested to supply further information before P2P is given.

Authorised consignors can also apply to extend their authorisation for additional locations.  To do this please email:

National-simplifications.ccto@hmrc.gov.uk or the Border Force office

Traders will be required to give reason how physical contact will be reduced, while large companies must give the name of their Customer Compliance Manager.  Traders can also request P2P for export declarations.

For transit movements ending at the office of destination, the trader can request release of the goods by contacting the appropriate office after the goods have arrived.  Border Force will ask them to provide:

  • Declarants name and EORI number
  • MFN of the transit declaration
  • Inventory reference from temporary storage facility
  • Entry number or MFN of the following customs procedure, if there is one
  • Confirmation that seals listed are intact

The goods cannot be unloaded until approval is given, and traders must report any discrepancies immediately to the Border Force office they have been dealing with.

“The changes will not affect most businesses and may seem quite minor in comparison to some of the recent changes announced,” says Rachel Stockton, director of special projects at the Institute of Export & International Trade.  

“The changes listed are being introduced to try and protect the staff and traders who have no option but to continue in their daily work and interventions such as these should, in our opinion, be encouraged and applauded for putting the health and safety of people ahead of bureaucracy.”