Methodology changes to Trade in Goods Statistics from March 2021

This section is Guidance

This note informs users of the way that GB to EU export statistics will be compiled for January 2021 data onwards and effects to the bulk dataset files that are published on UK Trade Info.


HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Trade in Goods Statistics (TIGS) are a detailed dataset covering the UK's trade in goods at a disaggregated country and product level. They are published monthly, quarterly and annually from trade declarations, providing access to both aggregated and detailed data for over 9,500 commodities and 250 partner countries.

From 31 December 2020, the free movement of people and goods and services between the UK and the EU ended. This means the way HMRC collects trade in goods statistics has changed, and statistics published from March 2021 onwards will reflect those changes.

UK to EU exports

Up to 31 December 2020, UK to EU export statistics were collected via the Intrastat statistical survey, which required traders to declare the value and volume of commodities exported to EU Member States within the relevant month of physical goods movement.

For goods moving from 1 January 2021, GB to EU export statistics will be compiled direct from customs export declarations made according to the requirements of the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Act. The customs declaration requirements are more complex than the single monthly aggregated Intrastat return, and can result in differences between dates of declaration and actual movement of the goods out of the country.

The TIGS compilation methodology relies upon the acceptance date of the customs export declaration for its inclusion within the relevant month of account, rather than the declared physical movement date used from the Intrastat survey.

Intrastat survey returns will, however, continue to be collected for goods exported from Northern Ireland to the EU, under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Both the GB to EU customs export declaration data and NI Intrastat export (dispatch) data will be incorporated into the overall UK to EU export dataset.

As a result of the changes and differences outlined above, there will be a break in the timeseries for published UK to EU export statistics from January 2021. These will not be directly comparable to UK to EU export statistics published for previous months and years.

UK imports from EU

UK imports from EU statistics will not be impacted by any change in 2021. The Intrastat survey continues to operate for all UK (GB and NI) imports (arrivals) from the EU, to mitigate the effects of staging customs controls, and to comply with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Bulk datasets: Trade Data Downloads

HMRC currently publishes a number of large text files containing all UK TIGS data by month of account. The purpose is to allow expert users to build their own trade statistics databases for analysis purposes. Data is currently available from January 2009 to December 2020.

The changes described above will impact the publication of bulk download files as follows:

  • The non-EU exports data file will include the export of goods from GB to the EU.
  • The EU dispatches data file and the associated EU dispatches non-response file will no longer be published, due to confidentiality concerns arising from changes to the collection of GB to EU export movements.
  • The EU arrivals file will no longer include data in the “No. of Consignments” field, as its completion is optional and the data is of insufficient quality.

Users requiring all UK import and export data should use the interactive trade database on, or the new API tool which provides bulk data access. 

For additional information on methodology changes please contact: