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    Making International Connections
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Customs processes are there to screen trade levels between nations, help keep up national security, additionally for financial purposes. Contingent upon the type of commodity, country of origin, and the country of destination, products may, or may not, be liable to prohibitions, restrictions, and also the application of duties / taxes.

An export licence from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills may be required for certain goods being exported to certain countries.

The computer system used by the United Kingdom's revenue and customs services, HMRC, is called ‘CHIEF’ (Customs Handling of Import & Export Freight).

The CHIEF system manages both the declaration and movement of goods imported and exported of the United Kingdom and is used in the fashion of how UK traders correspond with partner customs systems in the other member states of the European Union. It additionally manages the movement  of goods over EU borders in the instance that the moved cargo belongs to a UK party.


  1. Trader pre-declares data to CHIEF
  2. Goods arrive at the airport
  3. Inventory system informs CHIEF of the goods' arrival
  4. CHIEF re-processes the stored declaration, aware that the goods are now at the airport. It grants 'permission to progress', at which point the goods may be loaded onto the aircraft.
  5. The aircraft departs and the inventory system informs CHIEF
  6. CSP informs the trader that the goods 'departed UK'


  1. Trader or airport system creates consignment on CSP inventory system
  2. Trader pre-declares data to CHIEF, stating that it represents goods on the above consignment
  3. CHIEF confirms with the inventory system that the consignment exists
  4. Goods physically arrive at the airport
  5. Inventory system informs CHIEF of the goods' arrival
  6. CHIEF re-processes the stored declaration, aware that the goods are now at the airport. Declaration is awarded a 'route to clearance', which for trusted traders may mean automatic clearance, or may require a physical or documentary examination
  7. Goods are cleared automatically by CHIEF or by customs officers
  8. CHIEF informs inventory system of clearance
  9. CSP releases the cleared goods to the trader once all local airport and commercial requirements are met

For the majority of export & import customs clearances, you may only need the following documentation in order to continue directly or through an agent:

Air waybill, Commercial Invoice, Packing List, Certificate Of Origin (Import only and if required), EUR1 / ATR Certificate (Import only and if required), GSP Certificate (Import only and if required).

There are various different types of both export & import customs clearances and procedures, please use the following link for a detailed guide direct from ‘HM Revenue & Customs’:

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