The following glossary of Customs and Trade terms are provided as a guide to assist you with the many terms and acronyms used in the world of Customs and international trade.

Ad valorem duty

A duty, expressed as a percentage, based on the customs value of the goods.


Anti-dumping duty

Additional Code

The additional (4 digit) code which is used in addition to the 8 or 10 digit commodity code to identify certain complex variable charge's and/or anti-dumping duties.


See 'Forwarding agent'

ATA Carnet

Admission Temporaire-Temporary Admission. An ATA carnet makes the customs clearance of certain temporary importations and exportations easier.


Air way-bill


Border Inspection Post. Control point at the place of importation into the EC where Products of Animal Origin (POAO) and live animals are subject to veterinary checks.

Bonded Warehouse

A place of security approved by HM Revenue and Customs for the deposit, keeping and securing of goods liable to excise duty without payment of duty. This term is often applied to a customs warehouse but incorrectly since no bond is usually required for these.


The Common Agricultural Policy of the EU.


The person or company who carries uncleared goods from one approved place to another approved place.


Cargo Community System - UK. The computerised cargo processing system that controls goods in an inventory linked environment, consisting of a central database and a ‘switch’ to transfer messages between the various computer systems connected to it.


Customs Freight Simplified Procedure.


Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight. HM Revenue and Customs computerised system for processing import and export enquiries


Customs input of entries into the Customs entry processing system (as distinct from Direct Trader Input (DTI)).


Cost, insurance and freight.


See 'Combined Nomenclature'.

Combined Nomenclature

The Combined Tariff and Statistical nomenclatures of the EU, represented by the first 8 digits of the Commodity Code

Commodity code

The term used to denote the code (either at 8 digit or 10 digit level) which identifies a line of tariff nomenclature. The term replaces TTCN (Tariff/Trade Code Number).

Common Transit

A Customs procedure, similar to Community Transit for moving goods without payment of duty and tax between the EU and the EFTA countries.

Community goods

Goods which originate in, or are in free circulation in the EU.

Community Transit

An arrangement for facilitating the movement of goods passing through more than one member state of the EC.


An individual or firm to whom freight is shipped. A freight receiver.


Goods recorded on one or more house air waybill and covered by a master air waybill


Customs Procedure Code. A code identifying the customs and/or excise regimes to which goods are being entered and from which they have been removed (if applicable).


See 'Community Transit'.

Currency code

A 3-alpha code (which also identifies countries) to be included on the customs entry to notify the currency in which the customs value is being declared.

Customs Duty

An indirect tax which, inter alia, provides protection for EU industry, raised on imported goods under the Combined Nomenclature of the EU.

Customs Release

The approval given by Customs that authorises a transit shed operator to deliver goods from the transit shed subject to such conditions the Commissioners may impose.

Customs Value

The value of imported goods for customs purposes.

Customs Warehouse

A warehouse approved by HM Revenue and Customs for the storage, duty and VAT free, of goods liable to import duty.


Certificate of Veterinary Clearance. A document issued by the official veterinary officer at a BIP controlling Products Of Animal Origin (POAO) and live animals entering the EC.


Countervailing charge. This is imposed in addition to any other duties or charges on wines, dried grapes and certain other commodities to prevent unfair competition from cheaper non-EU imports.


Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. (Department responsible, inter alia, for UK policy in relation to CAP).

Detention / Demurrage

Penalty charges assessed by a carrier to a shipper or consignee for holding transportation equipment, i.e. trailers, containers, railcars, longer than a stipulated time for loading or unloading.


Direct trader input. An arrangement under which traders key customs declarations direct to the Customs entry processing system CHIEF.


Transportation service arrangement in which freight is moved from origin (shipper) through to ultimate destination (consignee) for a given rate. Trucking companies typically offer door-to-door service. Railroads do not, unless the shipper and consignee both have rail sidings. Brokers, forwarders, NVOCCs etc. often package together door-to-door service through contracts with multiple carriers.


Wood and packaging materials used to keep cargo in place inside a container or transportation vehicle.


European Free Trade Association. A group of countries, comprising Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein


Economic Operator Registration Identification. An EORI number is required to trade goods with countries outside the EU.


The HM Revenue and Customs Entry Processing Unit for the receipt and handling of import and ex-customs warehouse documentation.


European Union.


The financial currency used for EU accounting. The symbol for Euro is €.

Excise Duty

A charge on goods for raising revenue at rates which are the same for both home-produced and imported goods

Excise Warehouse

A warehouse approved by HM Revenue and Customs for the deposit without payment of duty of goods liable to excise duty.


The procedures to be followed during communication or systems failure.


Full Container-Load


Forty-foot equivalent unit.

Free Circulation

Goods are said to be in free circulation if they wholly originate in the EU or are imported goods (from a non-EU country) on which all import procedures have been completed and all duties, levies or equivalent charges have been paid and not refunded.


Free on Board.

Forwarding Agent

A person or company who is a specialist in Customs procedures and the international carriage of goods, and acts on behalf of importers and exporters.

Freight Forwarder

An agency that receives freight from a shipper and then arranges for transportation with one or more carriers for transport to the consignee. Often used for international shipping. Will usually consolidate freight from many shippers to obtain low, large volume transportation rates from carriers (through a contract ). Often owns some pickup and delivery equipment; uses to transport freight to/from consolidation facilities. Also provide other shipping services: packaging, temporary freight storage, customs clearing.


The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is an international multilateral agreement which embodies a code of practice for fair trading in international commerce.


Generalised System of Preferences.


House Air Waybill. A forwarding agents air waybill, part of a consolidation.


Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as Harmonised System.


International Air Transport Association.


Inland Clearance Depot. A place approved by HM Revenue and Customs to which goods imported in containers/vehicles may be removed for entry, examination and clearance, and at which goods intended for export in container/vehicles may be made available for export control before being moved to a place of export

Import Duty

This means customs duties and charges having equivalent effect. The term “import duty” does NOT include excise duty (see also Customs duty).


Inward Processing Relief: The system of duty relief for goods imported from non-EU countries for process and re-export.




Under CFSP, Local Clearance Procedure is used to release goods to a Customs Procedure from designated premises (usually inland).


“Lift-on, lift-off” Conventional container or cargo ships, in which quay cranes are used to load and unload containers or generalised cargo.


Master Air Waybill. An airline air waybill relating to a consolidation.


Number of pieces received.


Number of pieces expected, as indicated by the manifest or air waybill.


Non Vessel-Operating Common Carrier. Owns no vessels (ships), but provides ocean shipping freight-forwarding services. Provides consolidated, negotiated-rate services for ocean and inland water carriers. Often will affiliate with freight forwarders to provide pickup/delivery, other services.


Outward Processing Relief. The system of giving relief on goods temporarily exported and reimported after process or repair in a country outside the EU.


Any item used for the transport or storage of goods which does not meet the definition of ‘container’ or ‘pallet’.


Transport platform on which goods can be stacked for ready handling.


Processing under customs control for free circulation. Dutiable goods may be imported or released from customs warehouse suspending the duty and import VAT, processed under customs control and the products put into free circulation on payment of the duty and import VAT appropriate to the products rather than to the imported goods.


Product as defined in The Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (England) Regulations 2002.


An agreement between the EU and a non-EU country allows goods originating in that country to be imported at a preferential (often nil) rate of duty. The quantity of goods allowed to be imported at preferential rates may be restricted by tariff quotas or ceilings.

The Preference Agreements between the EU and Turkey are based, not on origin but on free circulation.


A mechanism for restricting the amount of goods imported into a member state which may benefit from a preference.


A refrigerated container. For long storage in transit (or in ports) must be plugged into a ship’s power system (or port’s). Temporary power units can be attached that last for 18-36 hours.

Release Note

A computer printout, or manual equivalent, for a consignment of goods which has been given Customs release.


The total or partial refund of import or export duties which have been paid.


“Roll On/Roll Off” A method of ocean cargo service using a vessel with ramps which allows wheeled vehicles to be loaded and discharged without cranes.


The Rural Payments Agency. The UK body responsible for administering export and refunds.


Single Administrative Document. An eight-part customs document developed by the Commission to simplify and harmonise customs information requirements, facilitate trade and the computerised communication of customs data within the EU.


A simplified clearance procedure, under which exporters of goods not requiring special control may submit an abbreviated customs pre-entry or an approved commercial document at the time of export and provide the full statistical information after the goods are exported.


A Supplementary Declaration is an electronic message to CHIEF used to declare the fiscal, statistical and control information for all consignments imported under CFSP.


Supplementary Declaration (Imports).


A supplementary declaration submitted for goods removed from warehouse under CFSP.


A Simplified Frontier Declaration containing a minimum amount of information submitted at the frontier which enables clearance (at the frontier) or removal to Local Clearance Procedure for goods imported under CFSP.

Shipper / Consignor

An individual or firm that sends freight. A freight originator.


Simplified Procedure Value, a scheme for fresh fruit and vegetables to allow speedy clearance of the goods.

Status 1

An indication that the number of pieces expected (NPX) equals the number of pieces received (NPR)


The European Unions Integrated Tariff.


HM Customs and Excise – Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom


Twenty-foot equivalent unit.

Third countries

Countries which are outside the customs territory of the EU, also referred to as non-EU countries.

TI relief

Temporary Importation, the bringing into customs territory of goods (including vehicles and other means of transport) which will be reexported, in the same state and subject to certain conditions of use.


Transfer of Residence, the permanent transfer into a customs territory of a person’s personal and household effects including vehicles, subject to certain conditions.


A movement where the goods are imported and exported within the confines a UK airport or port in the course of a movement which started and will end outside of the UK.


United Nations.

Valuation Declaration

A form on which an importer (or other eligible person) declares the method of valuation and the elements involved in calculating the value for import duty purposes.


Value added tax.


Variable charge. A special charge, comprising a fixed and a variable element, applicable to goods processed from certain basic agricultural products.

Visegrad Countries

A group of countries, comprising Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovak Republic.

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