What the import customs clearance routes mean in the UK

When an import customs clearance is processed in the UK, it will be allocated a route depending on whether further checks are required or not. Checks can be allocated based on your company’s profile (IE a new importer for that port, or previously found incompliant), the commodity, or be part of the random inspection from HMRC. Here is a list of the import customs clearance routes that are used on the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system:

Import customs route H


The import clearance route “H” means that your declaration has pre-arrival status. If your shipment has a UCN or GMR, then it will automatically transmit to one of the live routes on arrival at port or embarking from origin, respectively.

If your shipment does not have a UCN or a GMR, then your declaration will not go live until your customs broker amends the declaration to an “arrived” status.

 Route 0
Route “0” means that an supplementary declaration is required with one of the other customs authorities, such as DEFRA. How this works is that your import declaration’s reference is entered by your broker into the supplementary declaration. The second system then tells CHIEF that the entry has been completed. Your declaration will then continue to a different route for processing.


Route 1


Import customs clearance route “1” requires additional checks from HMRC’s National Clearance Hub (NCH) before it will be cleared. It is the most common route for import declarations that require additional checks.

Route 1 import clearances can be the result of:

– random checks.
– where an entry is amended too many times.
– Additional surveillance on your commodity.
– It being your first time importing into an area.
– You being found to be incompliant during a previous audit.

Route 2

Clearances that go route “2” require the same paperwork checks as route 1. You must also physically present your goods to customs for an inspection.

Route 3


Route “3” requires the same paperwork checks as route 1, but the goods will be processed within 10 minutes like a route 6. This is assuming that there are no additional holds and that you have paid any import Duty and Vat.

Route 6


The most common live entry status, route “6” processes the clearance within 10 minutes for release, assuming there are no additional holds or outstanding taxes.

What happened to import clearance routes 4 and 5?

Customs clearance processes have changed since CHIEF’s introduction in 1994, , and import customs clearance routes 4 and 5 are now obsolete – as will all of these routes once import processing migrates to the Customs Declaration Service in September.

Are there any other import clearance routes?

Declarations can go route “E” or route “F” as well. Route E means that there is data stored against the declarants consignment reference which is blocking the entry. Route F means that there is a query on the commodity – such as the weight being too low/high for the value declared. Both routes require amendment.

Do you want to know more about import customs clearance routes in the UK?

Our team are here for any queries you have on import customs clearance routes, the migration to CDS, GVMS, and more. Contact one of them today for assistance. 



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