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International Forwarding Association Blog » Intermodal transport in Europe » Details to Include in a Customs Declaration
Customs Declaration

Details to Include in a Customs Declaration

A customs declaration is a document submitted to provide information about cargo or goods that are exported or imported.  It can be lodged by the owner of cargo which can be an association, company, or individual.

A representative or person acting on behalf of the owner can also lodge a customs declaration.


shipping cargo

Why Submit a Declaration?

Individuals or legal entities lodge a customs declaration upon export by starting an export procedure and upon import when goods are intended to be shipped to a customs territory.

How to Lodge a Customs Declaration?

There are three ways to place goods or cargo under a customs procedure – orally, in writing, and via electronic data processing. The electronic system has been introduced to speed up clearance, cut administrative costs, and facilitate the export and import of goods.

Before shipping cargo into a customs territory within the EU, the owners of goods or freight forwarders must lodge an entry summary declaration which can be done by using the online ATLAS-EAS procedure or at a customs office. An entry/exit summary declaration can also be lodged online. Carriers that are obliged to submit an entry summary form include railway companies, airlines, hauliers, and shipping lines.


Carriers are not required to lodge an entry summary declaration when bringing household effects, items shipped under the Universal Postal Agreement, and electric power. Other exemptions include the following:

  • Items shipped by pipeline
  • Items onboard sea ships and aircraft temporarily outside the EU and transiting between two points by air or sea in case the ship or aircraft has a direct route
  • Military equipment and weapons shipped into the territory of a EU Member State by the respective authorities
  • Letters
  • Items for which an oral declaration can be lodged under article 136 (1) and article 135 of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446
  • Items that are not subject to customs duties
  • Goods shipped from offshore installations, including non-hazardous products, provisions consumed or used within the territory of installations, and goods that have been incorporated for conversion, maintenance, repair, or construction in offshore installations

Information Required in an Entry Summary Declaration

When shipping goods into the EU, carriers fill in an ESD and provide information such as UN code for hazardous goods, cargo gross weight, seal and container number, number of packages, and package type. Other details to include are consignee, shipper, and transport charges method of payment code. The latter can be account holder with carrier, electronic credit transfer, payment by check or credit card, and payment in cash.

Information required for inland waterways, sea, air, and other modes of transportation also includes person lodging the declaration, transport document number, and conveyance reference number. Additional details to provide are place of unloading code, place of loading, location of goods, and mode of transportation at the border. Shippers also specify time and date of arrival in a customs territory of an EU Member State as well as goods item number and description and commodity code.