Brexit Import/Export Processes

Metro’s customs experts have produced a unique Brexit resource: A series of swimlane diagrams, that illustrate Brexit customs processes and responsibilities for EU/UK imports and exports

Our customs experts have painstakingly reviewed the Government’s Brexit resources and in particular the transit guidance provided on the Government’s web site and the Brexit Operating Model (BOM) released by the Border and Protocol Delivery Group in July, to produce a series of swimlane diagrams, that illustrate Brexit processes and responsibilities for EU/UK imports and exports.

The six diagrams cover four import and two export methods, incorporating participants the new processes and the point of supply chain intervention.

There’s a lot of detail and and, with critical systems still to come online, some uncertainty particularly around timings.

These representations are currently the best visualisations of the new EU/UK supply chains, but we’re expecting (hoping) a revised Border Operating Model, which may provide more detail encompassing different types of shipments and timings.

All information is based on currently available information and is subject to change without notice. Content does not constitute professional advice and is general in nature. It does not take into account your specific circumstances and should not be acted on without full understanding of your current situation, such as provided by Metro’s Brexit health check.


brexit import full

This swim lane applies to general cargo and controlled goods. It is the most popular method of clearing customs, discharging liabilities and responsibilities at the point of import. (In most cases.)

It does mean that importers forego the potential cashflow benefit of deferring customs declarations for up to six months, but does allow them to avoid all the associated record keeping.


The press were quick to latch on to the government’s plan for ‘light-touch’ customs processes post-Brexit and in particular the use of a traders EORI number to clear customs.

The reality is a little more nuanced, as traders either need to be authorised to use simplified declaration processes, or use an intermediary like Metro’s authorisation.

Far simpler to use our customs experts, than to try and find and employ specialists, buy HMRC compliant software, obtain bank guarantees and then maintain detailed EIDR records across 13 data sets.

• the commodity code
• the customs procedure code
• your declaration unique consignment reference – which is the main reference number that links declarations in the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system
• purchase and, if available, the sales invoice numbers
• the date and time of entry in records – creating the tax point, which is used for working out VAT payments later
• any temporary admission, Free Zone, warehousing or temporary storage stock account references
• the Free Zone or warehouse approval number
• a written description of the goods – so they are easy to identify
• customs value
• quantity of goods – for example, number of packages and items, net mass
• details of licensing requirements and licence numbers
• details of any supporting documents, including the serial numbers, where appropriate, needed before the goods can be released
• details of the person you’re representing if you are making a declaration on behalf of someone else


UK exports will be subject to EU VAT and duty at the entry point, unless suspended during transit under Common Transit Convention (CTC), using a TAD (Transit Accompanying Document).

The TAD guarantees any VAT and duty payable, which means the issuer of the TAD becomes liable if payment is not made, with the sum deducted from their Transit guarantee.

The point of TAD opening and discharge are critical locations and actions.


This is the simplified importing post-Brexit process that we are recommending and have initially prepared our systems to process fifty thousand customs declarations a month.

Adopting this process means that Metro clients have the cashflow benefit of deferring their final customs declarations for up to six months, without the record-keeping headaches of EIDR.


Starting at the exporters business premises, this swim lane takes into account over 20 processes by six participants and includes the move to the consolidator’s location for consolidating with additional groupage shipments.

The exporter’s accurate and timely pre-alerts are critical as they provide the data necessary for Metro to generate the Export Accompanying Document (EAD) and Movement Reference Number (MRN), without which the shipment cannot leave the consolidators premises.


It is critical that the exporter or their customs broker share the correct information and documents with Metro as a pre-alert, so that Customs declarations can be submitted into HMRC’s CHIEF system before goods arrive at the EU port of export.

If importers are uncertain Metro’s Brexit task team can provide guidance on the data, documents and regulatory requirements that their exporters should be providing.

If the shipment is accompanied by Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) this will need to be discharged, but until the 1st July 2021 the UK import process will be fundamentally ‘light touch’.