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Dealing with customs post-Brexit

The UK formally left the EU on 31st January 2020. There was then a transition period of 11 months during which regulations remained aligned. An EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement was agreed as the period was drawing to a close which forms the framework for trade, customs and other regulations going forward. The transition period came to an end on the 31st of December 2020.


How has Brexit changed UK & EU customs regulations?


As of the 1st January, the UK has not been a participant in the EU single market, VAT area and customs union. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) now determines the terms of trade between the UK and the EU. The changes have impacted on different sectors to differing degrees, with some facing greater challenges than others which can potentially cause delays.


The UK government implemented a transitional timetable for introducing import border control processes, with full control becoming effective on the 1st of January 2022. This has allowed businesses greater time to complete customs declarations on any goods that they import into the UK from the EU. Tariffs are now payable where they are due, but the transitional period allows for payments to be deferred.


This gives businesses more time to complete customs declarations on goods imported into the UK from the EU. While tariffs are still payable where they are due, this payment may be deferred. The EU has introduced full customs controls from day one.


What businesses need to know


If you haven’t already started to do so, businesses will need to familiarise themselves with the new processes.


Customs declarations


From 1 January 2021, customs declarations are required on all exports from the UK. If a business is importing controlled goods such as alcohol, chemical, drugs or weapons then a customs declaration is required. A transition period of six months has applied for anyone importing goods that are not currently controlled.

Classifying goods

For the right tariffs to be applied, traders are responsible for the correct classification of goods. They are also responsible for recording the origin of those goods. Any incorrect commodity codes or an inaccurate origin statement on the customs declaration can mean that the wrong amount of duty will be charged. While traders may classify their goods themselves, HMRC advises that it may be prudent to get help from customs intermediaries, such as a freight forwarding company, to ensure that the correct information is provided.


Businesses importing goods can check the applicable UK tariff duties and VAT rates with the help of the HMRC Trade Tariff tool.


Follow all safety and security requirements


Safety and security declarations are now required on both exports and imports to and from the EU to the UK, with a summary declaration exemption on goods imported into Great Britain until 30 June 2021. Limited temporary waivers currently apply to goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

UK and EU customs easements post-Brexit


The UK and EU agreed to apply several temporary easements in relation to rules of origin. Until the end of 2021, businesses won’t need to have supplier declarations in place whenever goods are exported. Any business making use of preferential rules of origin will need to be confident that the goods qualify. They could be asked to retrospectively provide supplier’s declarations.


There are also easements for low-value consignments. If you’re importing goods with a value of £5,700 or less into the UK, a statement of origin can be completed by any exporter.


What are the advantages of using a freight forwarding company?


These are uncertain times for UK importers and exporters following the departure of the UK from the EU. There have been considerable changes in the paperwork required to move goods from the UK into the EU and vice-versa and for many businesses the end of the easement period will introduce yet more complications.


The government is advising that businesses seek the help of a freight forwarding company. They are suggesting this to ensure that trade is not unduly held up by errors. A freight forwarding company can provide this support. Freight forwarders transport goods around the world for importers and exporters. They will arrange for clearing your goods through customs, ensuring that all the relevant paperwork and associated bureaucracy is taken care of.


There’s no danger of falling foul of customs or the whole process being slowed down because of the wrong information being provided. They save businesses time and money as they streamline the whole process, allowing companies to concentrate on their core business.


This is even more important than ever in a regulatory environment that is still evolving and is likely to change further over the coming years. They will have the right software to communicate with HMRC’s systems, again helping to ensure the process remains efficient and straightforward.


SSO Logistics provide an industry-leading freight forwarding service


At SSO Logistics, we provide experienced and compliant freight forwarding services to a growing number of clients. We work with a global network of agents ensuring a quality service at every stage of the process. We undertake all aspects of freight forwarding including import, export, Customs Clearance, transport, warehousing and storage.


We cover the full range of logistics options with the flexibility to match the needs of each and every customer. We also have the facility to handle all types of cargo including vehicles, out of gauge equipment, heavy cargo, fragile and time sensitive materials.


Contact us to find out how we can help you negotiate customs requirements between the UK and the EU, saving you time, stress and money.


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