The New Computerised Transit System (NCTS) is a system of electronic declaration and processing that traders must use to submit Union Transit (UT) and Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) declarations electronically.
Paper declarations are only allowed when transit declarations cannot be made on the NCTS system or for travellers with goods in excess of their duty-free allowance.
The NCTS will process the declaration and control the transit movement. It’s used by the UK, all member states of the EU and the signatories of the Common Transit Convention.
The Common Transit procedure can be used for movements between the UK, the EU and the Common Transit countries. These are the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland) and Turkey, North Macedonia and Serbia.
The TIR procedure is used for transit operations that begin, end or transit a third (non-EU) country. You’ll also have to declare such goods to NCTS for any part of the journey taking place within the UK and the EU.
Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI) number
Unless you use an agent to make your transit declaration, you must be registered as an Economic Operator. Once you’re registered, use your EORInumber on your NCTS declarations.
Changes introduced by the Union Customs Code
The implementation date for changes introduced by the Union Customs Code (UCC) was 1 May 2016.
Traders authorised to use any transit simplifications before that date can continue to use them until they’re re-assessed under the UCC criteria or until 1 May 2019, whichever is the earlier.
The criteria is based on those for Authorised Economic Operator Status Compliance (AEOC) approval (Article 191 of Delegated Regulation refers).
NCTS declarations and processes when moving goods under Union Transit
The NCTS is in use in the UK, all member states of the EU and the Common Transit countries. You must use it if you’re a trader and want to move goods under the Common Transit procedure.
When you enter a transit declaration into the NCTS an electronic message is sent to the customs office of departure. If your declaration is accepted the system will allocate a movement reference number. The Anticipated Arrival Record message is sent by the office of departure to the destination customs office.
Goods moving under the transit procedure must be accompanied by a Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) for presentation at destination or in case the goods are diverted, or there are any incidents during transit.
The TAD can be printed out at the customs office of departure or, if your printer can accommodate barcodes, at your own premises. TADs are authenticated by the system and do not need to be stamped by customs.
When the goods arrive at the destination country, it’s important that the TADis presented to customs at the office of destination, so they can inform the NCTS that the goods have arrived.
Simplified transit procedures
Authorised consignors are approved to:
Applications for simplified procedures
Traders and their agents can apply to use the transit simplified procedures using form C1343 – Application for Transit and other simplifications.
Application forms must be sent to HMRC at:
HMRC Central Community Transit Office
Telephone: 0300 322 7908
Once approval has been given, you must let HMRC’s National Simplifications Team know by post of any changes affecting your authorisation.
Exceptions to NCTS
There are some exceptions to NCTS. These include the simplified procedures given in Commission Regulation (EU) 952/2013 (Customs Code Implementing Provisions) for goods moving by air, sea, or rail. Traders moving non-Union goods within the UK can opt to move them under the Temporary Storage procedure.
You cannot use NCTS to make Proof of Union Status declarations (T2L) documents or Control Copy T5 documents.
How to register for and use NCTS online
You can register for NCTS online. A PIN is sent to the managing director of the business, and can then be used to activate the NCTS online account. Once registered, you can set up other users within your organisation.
Register for government online services
All users of HMRC online services must first hold an online Government Gateway account. Register for an online account.
The first individual in an organisation who registers for an account and then enrols for an online service becomes an ‘administrative user’ for that organisational group.
If you register for NCTS through the HMRC portal you’ll not be able to set up other peer users – you’ll only be able to set up assistant users. So if you intend to set up more than one peer user, you should carry out your registration and service enrolment for HMRC online services through the Government Gateway website.
Register and enrol for NCTS online service
You can download detailed guidance on how to register and enrol for NCTSonline.
Once you’ve registered and enrolled, you’ll be sent a PIN to your registered business address to activate your account. This is linked to your business EORI number.
The last step is to launch your account with your Guarantee Reference Number, issued by the NCTS helpdesk on proof of guarantee status. You’ll also need your Trader Identification Number and Access Codes.
These must be registered by phone with the HMRC NCTS helpdesk.
Using the online service
To use the online service, you’ll need:
Once you’re in the system the online instructions will guide you through the NCTS service.
Preparing a new NCTS transit declaration at departure
Sometimes you might need to cancel an NCTS transit declaration. You can do this online or by fax or phone. The customs officer will make the request to NCTS and you’ll receive the ‘Cancellation Decision’ electronically.
If you’re an Authorised Consignor requesting cancellation for goods entered to the Simplified procedure, you must do so within the time-out period.
Keying in a new NCTS web channel arrival notification at destination
Using EDIFACT email channel to access the NCTS
If your business submits a high number of transit declarations, Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT) messaging by email is a more suitable option than the online service.
The benefits of EDIFACT include:
The EDIFACT system sends and receives messages as email attachments, or in the body of the email, and is useful if you want to integrate your own internal systems with NCTS.
If you send an EDIFACT message to NCTS using your own trader software it will need to translate your declaration into an EDIFACT coded message that NCTS can read. NCTS will then accept or reject the declaration in EDIFACT. Your trade software must also be able to translate this.
To use this system you’ll need to buy specialised software or develop software that is compatible with NCTS. The costs and time constraints involved can be high so if yours is a smaller business it may be more cost effective to use the NCTS online service.
If you buy or develop software, you must ensure it is fully compatible with NCTS. Download the technical interface specification (TIS) and the TISappendices for phase 4 of NCTS at New Computerised Transit System: technical specifications.
HMRC has a test service so you can check your software is compatible before you start using it.
There’s a a technical pack if you want to develop your own NCTS system. Testing and technical information, along with a list of NCTS software developers, is available.
If you develop your own software, you’ll need to contact the NCTS helpdeskbefore you connect to the NCTS system for the first time.
Read technical information about EDIFACT declarations.
Using XML to access the NCTS
You can use XML to integrate your business systems with the NCTS.
Using the XML route to NCTS involves sending and receiving EDIFACTmessages ‘wrapped’ with an XML envelope. The NCTS XML channel gives an additional communication route for NCTS which may be useful if you’re running a large business.
The benefits of using the XML channel are:
Using the NCTS
Once you’ve successfully opened your account on the NCTS you can begin to submit your transit declarations and print the documents needed to accompany each of your consignments.
TADs and List of Items
Although NCTS is designed to be a paperless system your consignments must still travel with a TAD. The TAD includes your consignment’s Movement Reference Number – printed in numeric form and as a barcode. You must be able to print barcodes to the ISO code 128 standard, rather than EAN 128.
When more than one item is being consigned, a List of Items should also be sent with the TAD.
Transmitting messages on NCTS
You can send and receive messages on NCTS through web, EDIFACT or XML.
Transit simplified procedures
Approval as authorised consignors and consignees are just 2 of the ‘simplified’ procedures in transit. If you want to use any of these facilities, contact HMRC Simplifications Team on Telephone: 0300 322 7908 or see our guide on transit and other suspensive regimes.
You can find information about all transit simplified procedures from the UK Supplement to the Transit Manual.
De-enrolling from NCTS
See the New Computerised Transit System: supporting guidance to find out how to de-enrol your business, or a staff member.
Get help using the NCTS
Contact the NCTS helpdesk to get help or advice about using the NCTS.
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