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GB-EU customs and documentation requirements

Customs check

If you are a haulier heading to Portsmouth International Port, you must ensure that you are ‘border ready’ to avoid delays following the UK’s departure from the EU.

This already applies for exports headed for the EU, and will for imports heading to Great Britain from the EU from 1 January 2022.

Please use the drop down information below to find out more.

Exports to the EU from GB

The documentation you may need to move goods to the EU is listed below. You can also download a government leaflet showing examples of the documentation required here.

  • a valid ferry booking reference number, (no booking, no entry)
  • a valid passport
  • any applicable Movement Reference Numbers (MRN)
  • any applicable Transit Accompanying Documents (TAD)
  • any applicable Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission (ATA ) or Transport Internationaux Routiers (TIR) carnets
  • any applicable required documents for animals, plants, firearms, or other specialty goods

If you are bringing a trailer to the port that will be shipped unaccompanied, you will also need to have the correct documents. This is because the paperwork is for the load, not the driver.

If you are a haulier carrying freight considered a special load, you need to notify us in advance, find out more.

Imports to GB from the EU

There are various changes that are coming into effect from 1 January 2022 in relation to GB customs for shipments to and from the EU. From this date, all goods will be subject to full customs controls.

HMRC have issued a leaflet with guidance for hauliers. This details the new rules from 1 January 2022, for hauliers moving goods between the EU and GB. The leaflet is also available in 10 alternative languages. Download it here.

Within the UK’s Border Operating Model, Portsmouth International Port’s Customs Model of Operation is classified as a Temporary Storage location, with inventory linking established via Community Network Systems (CNS), as our partnered Community System Provider (CSP).

We are also permitted to utilise the goods vehicle movement service (GVMS) for freight movements. All the details of the process are available here.

EU import checks at Portsmouth International Port

It will be necessary for all vehicles shipping from France and Spain to the UK to advise Brittany Ferries either via their Track and Trace system, or when making your booking that you are importing under the Temporary Storage model.

Under Temporary Storage, a customs declaration will need to be lodged up to 90 days after arrival in the UK by your customs agent, however for Portsmouth International Port, unless otherwise agreed in advance with the Port Authority, declarations should be made ASAP after arrival in Port, to ensure clearance and removal of goods at the earliest opportunity from the port.

You can register for the GVMS here, and read the full border operating model here.

EU export controls at Portsmouth International Port

GVMS will not be in operation for EU exports initially in 2022, therefore the standard export declaration and control process will apply.

Please liaise with your carrier to ensure that you have supplied to them all the required declarations and / or information to ensure a valid booking is in place prior to arrival at the port gates.

It will be necessary for all vehicles shipping from the UK to France and Spain, to advise Brittany Ferries either through their Track and Trace system.

Full border controls timetable

Please note that the UK Government will be introducing full border controls on the 1 January 2022. Drivers will need all the required documentation to ship to the UK after that date.

The UK Government has decided to delay further some elements of the new controls on imports from the EU to GB, especially those relating to Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods

The current timetable is:

  • The requirement for pre-notification of agri-food imports will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as opposed to 1 October 2021.
  • The new requirements for Export Health Certificates, which were due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1t July 2022.
  • Phytosanitary Certificates and physical checks on SPS goods at UK Border Control Posts, due to be introduced on 1 January 2022, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.
  • The requirement for ENS (Safety and Security) declarations on imports will be introduced as of 1 July 2022 as opposed to 1 January 2022.


Help from HMRC

Questions about importing, exporting or customs reliefs

HMRC have a Customs and International Trade helpline which can be contacted on 0300‌‌‌ ‌322‌‌‌ ‌9434. The helpline is open from‌‌ ‌8am to 10pm‌‌‌ ‌Monday to‌‌‌ ‌Friday and from‌‌ ‌8am to‌‌‌ ‌4pm at weekends. You can also send your questions or contact by webchat.

The Export Support Service is a new helpline for UK businesses to get answers to practical questions about exporting to Europe. The service is a ‘one-stop shop’ and brings together UK government information, making it easier for exporters to access advice and support.

You can also find webinars and videos from other government departments about trading with the EU.

Border Force are also available on site in Portsmouth from 0600 to 2359 daily. In addition, an HMRC facility is available at the main terminal for freight and passenger enquiries:

Custom Office Detailed Information (

Useful information

Download the trader checklist, read the HMRC updated guides or visit our HMRC customer forums.

Hauliers heading to the port for services to the Channel Islands, or to Portico, are not affected by changes to paperwork and can carry on as before.

Customs support

If your business needs help with navigating the new paperwork for your imports and exports, Portico, based here at the port, is home to an experienced customs agency.

With all the necessary systems in place to make customs declarations, they are here to help with the challenges that lie ahead.

Contact them by emailing, calling +44 (0)23 9289 0503 or visiting their website.

Unaccompanied, hazardous and ‘out of gauge’ abnormal loads

There are specific guidelines for unaccompanied, hazardous and abnormal loads arriving at the port. You can find full information here.