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70 days to Brexit: 6 steps to importing and exporting after Brexit

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 23 Oct 2020

Once the UK reaches the end of the Brexit transition period, in just 70 days time, the process for importing and exporting goods to and from the EU will fundamentally change.

The EU is the UK’s largest trading partner, and the changes are set to impact thousands of UK businesses. In 2019, UK exports to the EU made up 43% of all exports, while UK imports from the EU accounted for 51% of all UK imports.

Earlier this month, the government updated its guide to the Border Operating Model, which outlines the steps UK businesses will need to take when trading with EU from January 2021. We've summarised those steps here:

1. Get an GB EORI number

You will need a GB EORI number to move goods to or from the UK. Check your EORI number. Apply for a new one here if yours does not start with GB. It will take about a week to come through.

2. Prepare to submit customs declarations

If you are exporting, you will need to be prepared to submit customs export declarations from January. You can make them yourself or hire an intermediary who can make declarations on your behalf. If you haven’t already, check out ChamberCustoms - the only customs broker in the country to offer a 'one stop shop' with direct links to all sea, air, rail and road ports and terminals in the UK.

3. Check if new rules apply for the goods you import/export 

You will need a special licence to import or export certain goods, such as waste, certain hazardous chemicals, and GMOs. Check if your goods will be affected here:

If you are importing live animals or high-priority plants and plant products, you will need to be prepared for submitting additional documentation and checks taking place at the point of destination. You can find more advice and guidance here.

If you are importing or exporting food, plant seeds or manufactured goods, you will need to check the marking, labelling and marketing standards here.

If you are importing or exporting excise goods such as alcohol, tobacco or fuel, you will also need to comply with additional formalities. You can find further guidance here (for export) and here (for import).

4. Check if you can benefit from a Duty Deferment Account (DDA)

Businesses who import goods regularly may benefit from having a Duty Deferment Account (DDA). This enables customs charges including customs duty, excise duty, and import VAT to be paid once a month via Direct Debit rather than on individual consignments.

5. Check to see if facilitation would benefit your business

There are a number of facilitations, including the Common Transit Convention, that can help import and export goods.

6. Check taxes, duties and VAT

You can charge customers VAT at 0% (known as ‘zero rate’) on most goods you export to the EU. Check if you can zero rate your goods here.

You will need to pay customs duty and tax on all imports. Check the rate of customs duty here and rate of VAT here.

Further resources to help you plan

  • The EU has published a communication on the readiness for 1 January 2021, including sections on customs and trade in goods.
  • The UK government has provided advice on how to claim VAT refunds from EU countries after Brexit.
  • The EU Trade Helpdesk can help you determine what tariffs your goods could face.
  • The UK transition website can provide you with a personalised list of actions for your business.
  • The British Chamber of Commerce has compiled a comprehensive Brexit Checklist for businesses to follow, which includes advice for specific industries. We've also compiled the key information in this blog post.

Some of the processes and procedures you need to follow will take time. With just 70 days to go until the Brexit transition period is over, you need to be taking action now to avoid any unnecessary difficulties.

As always, the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce is here to help. If you want to speak to someone for help and advice about trading with the EU after Brexit, please get in touch.

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Topics: import, brexit, Export

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