Translation and the Single Administrative Document (SAD)

Single Administrative Document – as you know, is the main form used by EU nations for importing and exporting goods. It has a unified (harmonized) set of codes that identifies the country of origin, destination codes, export codes, the party/parties making the customs declaration, payment codes, inventory of the shipment and the number of containers. These harmonized codes make it easier and faster to translate vital elements of the document into other languages. So if you want to enter in a new market, like Albania or Poland, you will certainly need one.

The information in this article is intended to help the submission and translation of the SAD go smoothly.


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What the Single Administrative Document Must Include:

  • What the goods are
  • The movement of the goods
  • The goods’ commodity code – also called Tariff heading, Tariff code, classification code or harmonization code
  • The customs procedure code (CPC)

single administrative document[Photo Credits:]

Don’t forget that a lot of this information is found on invoices, packing lists, certificates and other shipping paperwork. Always have this information on hand so that it’s easier and faster to complete the document. The Single Administrative Document comes in 8 parts with a total of 54 boxes to fill in. Take your time filling it out. The document is used throughout various parts of the trading process and these 8 parts are designated for certain parts. Forgetting to fill in a box or checking the incorrect one can cause unwanted trouble and time delays.

Document Checklist

Use this list to make sure you’ve completed all the necessary boxes. Make sure any details are legible. Also, in manual SAD declarations, make sure you initial anywhere you’ve made corrections.

  • Make sure your commodity codes are consistent and correct.
  • For VAT: double check that you applied the right standard, reduced or zero rate.
  • For reduced rate of duty (boxes 15, 34 & 39), if applicable, 44 and 47 should slot together so you have a successful claim.
  • Double check all the goods and their full value on every invoice and make sure they’re included. Don’t forget to use the current HMRC rate of exchange and valuation method.
  • For method of payment: Enter the correct code; fill in all the tax lines; Make sure the decimal points are in the right place and that the figures are correct.
  • Put your accompanying documents in the right order and, when submitting electronically, keep a copy.

SAD, The Law & Translation

Since the Single Administrative Document is a legal document, accurate understanding and translation is vital. Many legal terms refer to abstract concepts that can’t be defined easily. In order to explain them, other abstract concepts are used and it can muddle the exact meaning. Legal jargon also uses numbers, codes ( “In compliance with Regulation C-142…”) and near-synonyms that can cause semantic vagueness.

This causes problems in translation because these terms, if not translated accurately, can hold their own ambiguity within another foreign legal system. High quality translation ensure all of your trade documents are translated and up-to-date according to the standards of the country in which you’re exporting/importing.

For Assistance

If you’d like help filling out your Single Administrative Document, or assistance with your duty calculations, HMRC will help you.

The HMRC VAT helpline is 0845 101 9000.

HMRC Tariff Classification & Inquiry is 01702 366 077. They can help with classifying goods, issuing codes and can even issue you with a Binding Tariff Information decision if you need it.

Your SAD agent or freight forwarder should be able to help or direct you to someone who can help as well.

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