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Taxation and Customs Union

Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS)

The Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS) is a computerised system for monitoring the movement of excise goods.

It records the movement of excise goods (alcohol, tobacco and energy products).

EMCS is currently used for the movement of excise goods under duty suspension. However, an upcoming release will enable the use of EMCS also for the movement of excise goods released for consumption in the territory of one Member State and are moved to another Member State to be delivered there for commercial purposes.

More than 100 000 economic operators currently use the system, and it is a crucial tool for information exchange and cooperation between Member States.

The purpose of the EMCS is to:

  • Combat fiscal fraud, with real-time information and checks on goods being moved under duty-suspension
  • Ensure the secure movement of excise goods for which duty has still to be paid, with pre-dispatch checks on traders
  • Simplify procedures for traders, with a standardised, electronic system for the whole EU
  • Speed up the release of guarantees when goods arrive at their destination
  • Create a paperless administration

The EMCS in practice

Under EMCS, a movement of excise goods is documented at every stage through an electronic Administrative Document (eAD).

  • The eAD is issued by the original consignor, containing information on the consignment and the planned movement within the EU.
  • The eAD is validated in the Member State of dispatch. A European register of operators (SEED) is used to check the excise numbers of the consignor and consignee.
  • The eAD is electronically transmitted by the Member State of dispatch to the Member State of destination.
  • The Member State of destination forwards the eAD to the consignee
  • The consignee submits a "report of receipt" once he/she has received the excise goods. This report should mention any anomalies, such as shortages or excesses in the consignment.
  • The report of receipt is sent to the consignor who can then discharge the movement and recover the financial guarantees they had to make for the excise products.false

System of Exchange of Excise Data (SEED)

SEED is a register of economic operators, part of which traders can consult online, to see whether a given excise number is valid and what categories of goods the operator in question is authorised to trade.

It is a core component of the EMCS, as it allows Member States' administrations to validate authorisations of traders before giving them permission to move any excise goods under duty suspension.

Functional Excise System Specification (FESS)

The Functional Excise System Specification (FESS) analyses and documents all business functions and processes that are part of the Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS). It is the reference document for anyone wishing to know the exact scope of EMCS.

The FESS is updated approximately every 18 months.

Download the latest version of FESS
Read more in the FESS information paper

See also: EMCS - Core business module. An introductory course to the EMCS

ARC Follow-up

ARC Follow-up is the service available to Economic Operators and Member States officials that shows the state of EMCS international movements through the Europa website.

It is sufficient to enter an ARC (Administrative Reference Code) to get the state of the corresponding EMCS movement.

EMCS: Member States' Websites

For more detailed information on the EMCS implementation in a specific Member State, visit the national websites:

Belgium (French - Dutch)GreecePoland
Czech RepublicLatviaSlovenia
FinlandMaltaUnited Kingdom

EMCS: Legislation and Reports

The provided texts of excise legislation are consolidated versions containing the latest amendments, but please bear in mind these documents are meant purely as a documentation tool and the institutions do not assume any liability for its contents.

  • Directive 2008/118/EC lays down the legal framework for the EMCS.This directive will be repealed and replaced by Directive (EU) 2020/262 (recast)) as of 13 February 2023.
    Directive 2008/118/EC sets the horizontal rules for excise duties on alcohol, tobacco and energy products and provides for the EMCS, which is applicable since 1 April 2010. The information how Members States have implemented optional provisions of the Directive is contained in this document.
  • The information concerning allowances applied in certain Member States for losses due to the nature of excise goods during movements under duty suspension is contained in document CED710 rev7.
  • Regulation (EC) No 684/2009 sets implementing provisions as regards the computerised procedures for the movement of excise goods under suspension of excise duty.
  • Regulation 389/2012 sets implementing provisions for administrative cooperation between Member States through the EMCS.
  • Regulation (EU) 2016/323 lays down detailed rules on cooperation and exchange of information between Member States regarding excise goods.
  • Regulation (EU) 612/2013 sets detailed rules on the operation of register of economic operators and tax warehouses, related statistics and reporting.​
  • Decision (EU) 2020/263 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2020 on computerising the movement and surveillance of excise goods (recast) is the legal foundation for the development of EMCS, to computerise the system under which excise duty goods are moved between authorised EU traders under duty-suspension arrangements. This decision repeals and replaces Decision n° 1152/2003/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.
  • A Report on the functioning of EMCS was published in December 2013
  • A Report on the implementation and evaluation of Directive 2008/118/EC was published in 2017 (COM (2017) 184 final) together with a Commission Staff Working Document (SWD(2017)131 final)

Excise Contact Group

The Excise Contact Group is made up of representatives of the European Trade Federations, Member States and the Commission. It meets once or twice a year to exchange views on the EMCS.

The latest minutes of the Excise Contact Group:

EMCS as a test-case for blockchain technology

In the light of the political and societal traction around the blockchain phenomenon, the European Commission’s department for Taxation and Customs Union decided in 2017 to explore the applicability of the blockchain and distributed ledger technology in its operational context.

The Excise Movement Control System (EMCS) was chosen for one Proof of Concept because :

  • it has a relatively limited set of traders and a quite common design pattern of tax and customs trans-European systems. Thus the results are immediately transposable to other areas, such as the customs New Computerised Transit System (NCTS) or other.
  • it is complex in terms of business. Which makes it a suitable test-case to see evaluate the feasibility of the project.
  • it triggers some boundary breaking questions in data sharing and interactions between administrations and businesses, where blockchain could add value for all stakeholders

The objective was not to rebuild the EMCS, but to engage in a learning process allowing the inclusion of such innovation in upcoming business cases for new systems or major updates to existing systems.

The experience gained by the project so far demonstrates that blockchain is a promising technology, but that significant challenges remain, often related to confidentiality and security.

Related links and background information