Is the SAD Copy 3 still a valid document?


Going back some years we used to complete our own export declarations via the HMRC New Export System and print a SAD Copy 3 document to send with the goods.
Does anyone with more recent shipping/freight experience know whether the SAD Copy 3 is still current.

I had heard that providing the UCR number on the invoice is acceptable for a shipment sent directly from the UK and use something called the EAD with a barcode for shipments going by road to the European boarder?

Any comments really appreciated as I have spent hours trawling the HMRC website for the definitive answer but without success.

Thanks for reading my question,
K. Rogers.


The answer is yes it can still be a valid document but it depends what form of export you are making. Electronic documentation is taking over.

The situation is quite complex as EAD’s are also not always acceptable.

The rules will change depending on the type of export and the countries through which you wish to transit and the destination country involved.

If you can be more specific it will help.



Hi Susan,
Thanks for your comments so far.

Just to explain a little further, we have always completed the NES declaration electronically either via the HMRC portal or third party software to generate the UCR and Entry Reference but would then print the SAD Copy 3 to send with the goods and inform the forwarder.
For a time the orders dried up so we got out of the habit but I’m now looking at exporting mens clothing again to Russia (via road transport across Europe) and China (sea freight).

I was just keen to understand what is now recognised as standard procedure once the export declaration has been accepted by HMRC.

Thanks for any further comments anyone might have.


Hello Keith
I understand it can be very confusing. Your type of shipment would come under the Export Control System (ECS). These days this is an EU wide electronic system. The basic idea is that the despatch of the shipment is registered with HMRC on the ECS and then the departure from the EU is recorded at the place of removal from the EC on the same electronic system. The two records match up and all is well. A document called the Export Accompanying Document (EAD) accompanies the shipment. The SAD copy 3 is no longer applicable.

Take a look at Section 6 para 6.1 and Section 8 para 8.2 of Public Notice 275 (July 2013). If the link doesn’t work let me know.

Also try this link which gives full details of the ECS.

Unless you are set up with the right software and guarantees it might be easier if you allowed your freight agent to handle this.


Export Action Plan