Britain said on Sunday it wanted to create up to 10 free ports in order to stimulate the economy after Brexit.
The government said it had launched a 10-week consultation aimed at naming the locations of the free ports by the end of the year.
Ministers said a full customs declaration would not be required to move goods into a free port.
London hopes they will be open for business in 2021.
Britain and the European Union have until the end of this year to strike a new trade deal following the UK’s departure from the EU on January 31.
“Free ports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities,” said junior finance minister Rishi Sunak, the chief secretary to the Treasury.
“They will attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity.
“This is all part of our mission as an open, outward-looking country, championing global free trade with vibrant free ports.”