We understand that discussions about customs are complex and heavily saturated with predictions and uncertainty. We want to help bring about some clarity and really break down all of the jargon and essential bits of information that you WILL need to know, regardless of the outcome of the withdrawal agreement.
We are currently within the Brexit transition period. Whilst we officially left the EU on the 31st January 2020, we are still able to operate as we normally would until midnight on the 31st December 2020, which is when the transition period officially ends. This means that from the 1st January 2021 new regulations will come into play which will mean that there will be changes to the way in which we operate.
Customs Declarations (C88)
From the 1st January 2021 you will need to make customs declarations on imports and exports going between the UK and the EU. Customs declarations (traditionally known as a C88 form) are forms that detail the type and value of the goods that are being imported/exported. This will later be used to calculate customs duties (tax) that as a business you will need to pay.
Safety and Security Declarations (SSD)
Safety and Security Declarations (also known as entry and exit summary declarations) are filled out so that the HMRC (or another country’s equivalent) will be able to assess the risk of the goods that are being imported or exported in order to monitor what is moving across the border. These forms simply detail the goods that are being imported or exported.
Exit Summary Declaration - Exports
Entry Summary Declaration - Imports
An EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number is used to register and identify companies that are importing or exporting goods into or out of the EU. If you already have an EORI number that does not begin with GB then you will need to register for a new one before 1 January 2021.
It takes five working days to receive an EORI number so it is important to apply for yours in advance.
Customs Broker / Customs Agent
Whilst it is not essential to use a Customs Broker, it is extremely beneficial. A Customs Broker is an expert within the field of international trade. They will help prevent you from making mistakes and make accurate customs declarations on your behalf. CustomsLink provides this service.
An LOA or letter of authority is a document that must be signed by the importer or exporter to allow a customs broker or agent to act on your behalf with the HMRC. If you nominate CustomsLink to make your customs declarations, we would request an LOA.
Duty Deferment Accounts
Duty deferment accounts allow you to pay for import, excise and customs duties by direct debit in one monthly payment. Once you have a duty deferment account you will also be able to apply for CFSP (Customs Freight Simplified Procedures), which simplify the customs process, and submit supplementary declarations, which speed up customs processes.
Duty deferment accounts can take ninety days to process so it is important that you apply as soon as possible to be prepared for January 1st 2021.
Import / Export Licences
From the 1st January 2021, you may be required to carry an import / export licence or certificate in order to transport particular goods between the UK and the EU.
The WTO (World Trade Organisation) will be responsible for setting rates on customs duties for any country that we don’t already have a trade agreement with. This is done to keep trade as fair as possible.
Government Customs Grant
You may be eligible for a government grant that will pay for 100% of your packaged customs clearance software. Check your eligibility now!
Although not directly linked to customs procedures, there have been some significant changes to passport regulations recently which may impact you and your ability to enter a country if you aren’t prepared. From 1st January 2021 any passport being used to travel into the EU (not including Ireland) must be younger than ten years and have more than six months left before the expiry date. It can take a while to receive a passport and Coronavirus restrictions are causing further delays. Apply for a new passport as soon as possible.
As we approach the end of the year, we expect to see more guidance about documentation requirements in order to conduct trade between the UK and the EU. A lot of this is dependant upon the withdrawal agreement. It is crucial that you take this time to prepare as there are waiting periods and demand is increasing for many of the things that you will need.