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Got a small business? Deal with the EU? This is your complete guide to post-Brexit customs declarations rules

Promotional feature from HM Government

On 1 Jan 2022, new rules came into effect for businesses in Great Britain (GB) who export and import goods to and from the EU.

If you run a small business and trade with the EU you will need to get up to speed with the changes to keep your business moving. Fortunately, Yahoo Finance has compiled a complete checklist of what you need to know.

By the end of this article you’ll know:

• what customs declarations are

• how to get ready to submit a customs declaration

• how to assign customs master data to your goods and submit pre-notifications

• how to hire someone to help you with the process

Malcom Gresty, Director of Trade and Investment Services, at Innovas Consulting Solutions, explains: “Simply speaking, when importing goods from the EU to Great Britain you must complete customs declarations at the time you, your courier or your freight forwarder brings the goods into the country. Failure to do so may mean you face delays in the importing process.”

One thing to note before we get started – these rule changes do not yet apply to goods moving from the island of Ireland to Great Britain.

Malcolm Gresty talks through customs declarations checklist

What is a customs declaration?

A customs declaration is a document that provides details of the goods you’re importing or exporting. Under the new rules, you need to submit a customs declaration whenever you're importing goods from the EU to Great Britain or exporting goods from Great Britain to the EU.

How do I get started with submitting a customs declaration??

Malcolm has the following advice for anyone starting out with submitting customs declarations:

“To trade goods between Britain and the EU, you’ll need to set up what is called an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number or EORI number,” says Gresty.

“This is a common reference number that’s valid throughout the world and must be used whenever you have dealings with customs authorities in any of the EU member states.”

When applying for an EORI number, you will need several pieces of information - click on the relevant links below to find out how to obtain this info.

Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)

Your business start date

Your Standard Industrial Classification code (SIC)

Your Government Gateway user ID

Your VAT number and effective date of registration

Your National Insurance Number (only if you’re an individual or sole trader)

How do I pay excise duty and import VAT?

“When it comes to paying excise duty and import VAT, you have options,” says Gresty. “Rather than paying duty at the border you might choose to defer it using a deferment account.

“This benefits your cash flow as HMRC doesn’t charge you for duty until the 15th day after you’ve imported your goods.”

For more information on setting up a deferment account, the Government has a full guide here.

What are commodity codes?

“Whenever you move goods, you have to assign certain master data to them,” says Gresty. “The data you assign to your goods may affect how much customs or excise duty you need to pay.

“Custom master data includes commodity codes. These are used worldwide to classify goods that are imported or exported. Having the right code helps make sure you’re keeping to customs rules and paying the right taxes and duties.”

Once again, the Government has a full guide to help you make sure you assign the right codes to your goods to ensure you pay the right customs duty and import VAT.

To use the tool properly you’ll need to know certain details about your product, things like the materials and production methods used to make it and the way it is packaged.

You should also be aware of rules of origin and check how they apply to the goods you are dealing with.

Rules of origin determine the national source of a product, which in turn could mean they can be imported or exported at preferential rates under the UK-EU trade agreement.

What about the Simplified Customs Declaration Process?

Your business must submit a full customs declaration at the time of import unless you are approved to make simplified declarations through the Simplified Customs Declaration Process.

In order to qualify, you must already have a duty deferment account as well as a good compliance record.

The Government has guidelines to find out if you’ll be eligible to use the Simplified Customs Declaration Process.

Is there anything else I can do to make it easier?

Absolutely – you can pay someone to do it for you. You have three options, a freight forwarder, a customs agent or a parcel operator.

The Government has a wealth of information on how to use freight forwarders and parcel operators, as well as a useful list of customs agents.

To work with a third party you’ll still need to provide your EORI number and information about the goods you’re importing.

And then you’re all set.

The information in this article was correct at the time of publication