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 EORI number 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 TAD is 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:

  • declare goods to UT without presenting them at the office of departure
  • print the TAD and, where applicable, the list of items at the consignor’s premises
  • remove goods under customs control directly from their authorised location – this could be the authorised consignor’s own premises or an approved customs facility such as:
    • a warehouse
    • a Designated Export Place
    • Enhanced Remote Transit Shed
    • other temporary storage facility
  • have automatic ‘timed-out’ release of goods, if no control decision is taken by the office of departure – depending upon the conditions of authorisation, ‘time-out’ may be outside the normal opening hours of the office of destination

Authorised consignees are approved to:

  • receive the goods and documentation direct to their own premises, or another authorised location, for example a port, airport or other approved place, without the need to present the goods and TAD to customs at the office of destination
  • send their arrival notification message to the relevant office electronically
  • receive automatic ‘timed-out’ permission to unload the goods, if the goods are not subject to further controls or inspections by the office of destination – depending upon the conditions of authorisation, ‘time-out’ may be outside of the normal opening hours of the office of departure

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 NCTS online.

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:

  • access to a computer that can download and print Adobe Acrobat PDF documents
  • a good quality printer that can print barcodes so you can print your TAD and List of Items
  • specific settings enabled on your internet browser

Once you’re in the system the online instructions will guide you through the NCTS service.

Preparing a new NCTS transit declaration at departure

  1. Access your homepage and get an overview of all your current arrivals and departures and click on ‘Making a New Declaration’.
  2. Enter general information details – for example any offices of transit and transport details.
  3. Input Consignor, Consignee and Principal details on the trader details screen.
  4. Access the goods summary screen, where you must complete the number of items, gross weight, seal numbers and any other identifying details of the consignment. If you’re using a Simplified procedure, a slightly different input will be needed.
  5. Add or edit the items list, if necessary amending information on any pre-submitted declaration.
  6. Enter any guarantee details.
  7. Review the data and submit your declaration if you’re satisfied the information is correct.

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

  1. Access your NCTS homepage to register goods under a transit movement when they arrive at your premises or at the office of destination.
  2. Input the Movement Reference Number, place or office of presentation, type of procedure and complete details for either the ‘Normal’ or ‘Simplified’ procedure. Complete Trader Identification Number, name and address of destination trader. You can also report en-route events by clicking on the ‘Add Incident’ or ‘Add Transhipment’ button.
  3. Under the normal procedure, customs at the office of destination will discharge the TAD on the system and release the goods if they’re satisfied with your notification.
  4. Authorised Consignees using Simplified procedures will receive an ‘unloading permission’ message containing a TAD once the arrival has been notified or timers have expired. Print off this notice to compare against goods during unloading so you can notify essential information – for example, if seals were intact or broken and any discrepancies in quantities or weight of goods. Your goods release message from NCTS is subject to your notification of discrepancies or confirmation that the goods received match those dispatched.

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:

  • improved security
  • greater accuracy in data entry – you do not have to enter data twice into the system
  • improved financial planning
  • the ability to enter up to 999 items onto a transit declaration

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 TIS appendices 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 helpdesk before 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 EDIFACT messages ‘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:

  • it speeds up delivery of NCTS messages to HMRC
  • it’s fully automated
  • data is more secure

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.

Published 14 September 2012
Last updated 31 October 2018 




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