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Humanitarian Aid – Customs and Transit

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

*Guidance from this post is accurate as of 17.03.2022. Guidance is gathered from HMRC sources.

Given the current atrocities in Ukraine, we thought it would be a good idea to outline the options we have found when it comes to moving charitable donations as freight. Nobody knows when the war in Ukraine will be over and the after affects will be long lasting. Humanitarian Aid will be needed for a long time to come.

It is worth pointing out that the government currently advises monetary donations to be the best way to contribute. For those that do wish to continue to deliver aid - Hopefully this guide help with UK customs procedures and get you started.

There are currently two main branches of customs guidance that can be followed which are; Oral or by Conduct declarations OR Customs paperwork (Export Declaration and T1).

Oral or by Conduct Declaration:

Rather than have to action an export declaration and T1 from the UK you can declare the Humanitarian goods by way of Oral declaration on GVMS for the GMR.

Oral and by Conduct declarations are not new and Humanitarian goods are one of the types of goods/movements that can use this process. A list of all applicable goods can be found here.

UK Customs are allowing Humanitarian goods to move out of this procedure without the need for an Export Declaration or an accompanying T1. If you are moving goods by road, and as freight, then you need tick the ‘Oral or by Conduct’ option to generate your GMR. A note should also be carried by the driver showing and declaring the type of goods being carried. If possible, have the note in different languages for the countries you will be transiting through. The GMR can be presented at UK exit and you will be allowed to make the crossing to Europe.

The guidance can be found in full here, and it includes carrying goods in your baggage and small vehicles as well as moving goods as freight. As a Caveat to this method we would still advise you to speak to the ferry operator first as some will differ or have their own checking in system different to GVMS. We would also like to note that we are aware of a few trucks getting held up at EU ports of entry due to lack of paperwork so it is a good idea to check with Customs Agents in the EU countries you will be travelling through too to ensure up to date procedures are being followed in each.

Clients Experience using this method - 'No real problems, got through UK customs with ease, and through POA in NL, the only hold up was getting over the border of Romania purely due to people doing the same. Now In Moldova and all is ok.'

UK Export Declaration and T1 Movement:

For most, who already trade with the EU, these procedures will be familiar. A UK export declaration can be raised along with a T1 so that the goods can move to final destination as per usual procedures.

Export declaration:

The best way to submit your export declaration is by using CPC 10 00 098. This is a non-stat declaration and does not require commodity codes. This will speed up the entering of the declaration quite considerably BUT a clear itemised description of type of goods is required in Box 31. The company arranging collection of donated goods should be noted as the shipper/exporter. Their EORI should be noted.


The T1 should be raised as usual using Customs Office of Departure, Transit and Destination codes. Commodity codes are not a requirement on T1s so long as the description of the goods is clear. The T1 will be required to be discharged as usual upon clearance at destination.

A lot of the Humanitarian goods are being received in Poland by accredited charities. The process at destination (as received from a Polish Agent) is as follows:

  • ‘The T1 needs to be closed . The second step is a request to release goods into circulation, SAD form needs to be filled by a specialist agency (fees may apply) on behalf of the receiving organisation in order for the lorry to be able to unload. Goods need to be cleared and any customs duties paid for goods that are not included in the exemption under Art 61 of polish law states what is included as humanitarian aid. It is very bureaucratic but relatively quick on the day.’

We think that it is important that everyone share information as much as possible in this situation. If there are any other options or advice people would like to share then please let us know and we can add it in for the benefit of everyone.

Very proud of the UK individuals and business at the moment for all of the Humanitarian assistance being given. As a Customs agent we will continue to offer, where possible, our customs services for free to those looking to send Humanitarian aid.

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