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  • Kumar Shivam

Understanding the Different Processes at UK Ports: Inventory-Linked vs. Non-Inventory Linked

Updated: Feb 6

Navigating the complexity of UK ports can be a daunting task for businesses involved in international trade. The UK boasts a variety of port types, each with its own set of processes and requirements. This guide aims to demystify these processes, focusing on the distinction between inventory-linked and non-inventory linked ports, and the implementation of the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS).

Inventory-Linked vs. Non-Inventory Linked Ports

The UK port system is divided into two main categories: inventory-linked and non-inventory linked ports. Understanding the differences between these types of ports is crucial for efficient cargo movement and avoiding unnecessary delays.

Inventory-Linked Ports

Inventory-linked ports are integrated with a Temporary Storage (TS) model or a Mixed model (TS/GVMS), depending on the terminal. The TS model connects the customs declaration with the port's inventory system, facilitating electronic customs clearance through CHIEF/CDS. The Mixed model allows for the adoption of GVMS at RoRo terminals, supporting a streamlined process for both accompanied and unaccompanied goods.

These ports are associated with Community System Providers (CSPs), which offer network services to port communities and interface with customs systems. The UK has five main CSPs, each catering to different port communities and requiring a subscription for access.

Non-Inventory Linked Ports

Non-inventory linked ports, on the other hand, do not have a direct connection to an inventory system but are linked to GVMS. This system is pivotal for managing pre-lodged declarations for imports, exports, and transit, significantly reducing processing times and simplifying customs procedures.

Understanding GVMS

The Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) is a critical component in the UK's post-Brexit customs landscape. Introduced in January 2021, GVMS facilitates the swift movement of goods across borders by allowing for the immediate release of goods with pre-lodged declarations. This system is essential for goods entering or exiting the UK, streamlining the process for carriers, freight forwarders, and traders.

Processes at Inventory-Linked Ports

At inventory-linked ports, the process varies based on the model in use:

  • Temporary Storage (TS): Goods are linked to an import record created by the ship’s manifest, with customs declarations tied to a unique identifier. This model requires an application for a badge from the relevant CSP.

  • Mixed Model (GVMS): Allows for the use of GVMS at RoRo terminals, where declarations must be pre-lodged and accompanied by a valid GMR (Goods Movement Reference).

Processes at Non-Inventory Linked Ports

For non-inventory linked ports linked to GVMS, the process also differs depending on the nature of the goods (imported or exported). These ports require a different approach, focusing on the pre-lodgement of declarations and the use of GVMS for both imports and exports.

Choosing the Right Port

The decision on which port to use is strategic, affecting costs, operational efficiency, and processing speed. Factors to consider include the type of goods, preferred customs processes, and the specific requirements of each port. Businesses should evaluate their customs flows and consult with customs experts to optimize their operations.


Navigating the UK's port processes requires a thorough understanding of the differences between inventory-linked and non-inventory linked ports, as well as the functionalities of GVMS. By familiarizing themselves with these processes, businesses can ensure smoother operations, reduce the risk of delays, and improve overall efficiency in their customs operations.

As the UK continues to evolve its customs procedures post-Brexit, staying informed and adaptable is key for businesses engaged in international trade. Whether you're a seasoned trader or new to the complexities of customs processes, understanding the intricacies of UK ports is crucial for your success in the global market.


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