CNS Community System

Ports, airports and inland locations are complex environments requiring efficient exchange of information between multiple business and government stakeholders in order to maintain the flow of cargo, ensure regulatory compliance and maximise operational efficiency.



CNS Compass is the HMRC-approved port community system that supports many of the largest maritime ports in the UK, enabling business and government stakeholders to securely and reliably exchange information.

The system is fully approved by HMRC for imports, exports and transhipments at temporary storage locations, and provides users with real-time visibility of unit and cargo status as cargo moves through the port environment.

Why Use Compass?

  • Direct access to the HMRC’s CHIEF and CDS systems for automatic customs clearance.
  • Inventory control and easy to navigate processes
  • Links to the terminal operating systems to enable the movement of goods in and out.
  • Monitor real-time progress of cargo and arrange movement of goods between locations.
  • An audit trail - Compass tracks the progress and any changes from start to finish.
  • Flexible routing of reports
  • Single sign-on access across sites.

Where you can use Compass

Compass can be used at the following ports and inland destinations:

  • Southampton
  • Tilbury
  • London Gateway
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham
  • East Midlands
  • Chatham
  • Reading
  • Belfast
  • Leeds
  • Plymouth
  • Poole
  • Portsmouth
  • Hull
Cargo vessel 1


  • Designed for shipping lines, freight forwarders, logistics operators or hauliers.
  • Provides instant visibility across the network to facilitate smooth and efficient trade across UK frontiers.
  • Providing smart real time information and data flow ensures trade through UK ports does not grind to a halt.
  • The system provides efficient, fully audited movement of cargo as it passes through frontiers.
  • The easy to navigate HMRC approved platform offers full visibility and inventory control, and ensures compliance in the port connecting all key regulatory stakeholders.
  • Its connectivity to the terminal operating system speeds up the flow of data to avoid delays and allows supply chain actors to manage release and gate processes faster.

Overview of VGM

CNS offers a solution for obtaining a verified gross mass (VGM) at our container terminals with an electronic pre-notification for each laden export container.

This solution provides a smooth/seamless service for moving containers through UK ports for our stakeholders in the port communities, whilst meeting the regulation introduced by the International Maritime Organisation as part of the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) regulations. The CNS solution will be provided in conjunction with our container terminal partners/customers to meet the requirements set out in accordance with the MCA.

Your chosen shipping line or your nominated agent must declare, via CNS Compass, whether we will receive a VGM from the shipper or the terminal is requested to determine the VGM of the container on arrival (Terminal determined VGM or TVGM). CNS will also support shippers through providing the front end screen for their VGM requirements.

CNS Compass VGM functionality provides the following benefits

  • Shipping line can declare the VGM through EDI.
  • Shipping line / Shipper / Forwarder can provide VGM through the Compass application.
  • The ability to request terminal VGM.

For further information regarding container weighing please follow the links below

  • DP World Southampton and DP World London Gateway (click here)
  • CNS - VGM Downloadable Documents (click here)
  • London Container Terminal and Portsmouth MMD (Shipping Services) Ltd (click here)

VGM Documents

Title Description Updated  
VGM FAQ Frequently Asked Questions 2 years ago Download
VGM - Are you ready? Version 2 of this document 5 years ago Download
CNS-VGM Guide for Shipping Lines Version 4 of this guide 2 years ago Download
VGM Guide for Shippers & Forwarders to search and self-nominate Version 3 of this guide 2 years ago Download

Customer VGM Registration

Customer VGM Registration

Please Click Here to download a copy of the CNS Direct Debit Mandate form.

This MUST be completed and returned to CNS once you have completed your VGM Registration.
Address details are included within the mandate.

CNS Compass Transaction Charges

Payable monthly in arrears

* This charge includes any frontier CHIEF/CDS entry but does not include any examination charge. UCNs within a single container may be amalgamated without incurring additional charges.

Inventory Linking, what will this mean for me?

HMRC are considering using the new Union Customs Code (UCC) to require all temporary storage facilities to operate using an HMRC-approved inventory system. You may be wondering exactly what an inventory system is and what benefits it brings? If you are then you have come to the right people - CNS - It's what we do.

We understand that as with any change it may be daunting. That's why we believe talking to CNS is the right move. As experts in our field we have been providing Inventory systems to the logistics and freight industry since the 80's. Trust us; we know exactly what we are doing.

In everyday language an inventory system is a way of controlling and monitoring cargo moving through temporary storage facilities. An inventory system keeps all the cargo information in one place allowing it to move smoothly through frontiers.

The inventory system also provides the link reference when declaring cargo to HMRC CHIEF (Customs Handling Import Export Freight).
Automated messaging means cargo will show cleared in the inventory as soon as it is cleared in CHIEF, taking the uncertainty and hassle out of doing business.

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