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How a ‘soul-warming’ Italian restaurant navigated new Brexit import rules

Promotional feature from HM Government

Emilia’s Crafted Pasta is about to open its third restaurant, having already built a brand based on serving “soul-warming comfort food” that embodies the “freshness and simplicity” of the best Italian cooking.

“We're a group of fresh pasta restaurants in Central London,” founder Andrew Macleod tells Yahoo Finance. “We make all our pasta fresh on-site every morning along with all our sauces, antipasti and everything else.

“We try to keep it as authentic as possible and so far, we've enjoyed great success.”

One of the most crucial factors in this success is the importing of the very best ingredients from Italy such as parmesan, cured meats, extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, coppa and buffalo mozzarella, products that are produced in a certain way and have certain certifications and standards not available anywhere else but Italy.

“A fair bit of our supply chain is direct from Italy and we also use distributors in the UK who are importing directly from Italy,” says Macleod.

Like other businesses importing goods from the EU, Emilia’s Crafted Pasta has had to comply with new regulations that came into force on 1 January 2022 of this year.

Rules of origin are of particular importance to companies dealing with region-specific food products.

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.

Adapting to these new rules hasn’t been a problem for Macleod. “The Rules of Origin were pretty straightforward,” he says.

“Because we knew it was coming, we had about six months to prepare. We anticipated that we'd probably need an extra few hours a week to find our own customs agents for the products we purchase directly, or, if using our suppliers’ customs agents, liaise with them, pay the necessary taxes, and deal with all the admin and paperwork for it.”

Even if you’re only just starting to adapt to the new rules - it’s not too late to get up to speed.

There is lots of guidance out there and the first step to accessing preferential tariffs is to obtain proof that goods you bring into the UK from the EU originate there, and that goods you export to the EU originate in the UK.

Macleod has taken advantage of the extensive government guidance on all the new rules and processes available on gov.uk.

“We used a lot of the webinars and training offered online by the Government. Basically we had our HR and finance go on these training sessions so they could understand the processes in detail.”

Also, make sure you find out the commodity code for your goods, their value and then if you can either reduce, or delay the amount of Customs Duty you owe due to the trade agreement between the UK and the EU.

The next step is to ensure everything is labelled correctly and then you’re ready to bring your goods from the EU through customs.

There is one more potential process to make things easier – businesses can apply for authorisation to use simplified declarations, which allows the movement of some goods into a customs procedure without having to provide a full customs declaration.

But be warned – it can take up to 60 days to complete all the checks needed to qualify for this so this will need to be factored into any import plans you have.

If, like Macleod, you are importing Products of Animal Origin (POAO) such as meat and dairy, you will also need to be aware of additional import controls that came into effect on 1 January 2022, which specifically affect these goods.

Businesses importing POAO to GB from the EU must now pre-notify their goods on the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) IT System - you can register for and access IPAFFS here.

Additional import controls for these goods will be introduced in a phased approach from 1 July 2022. POAO will be subject to new certification requirements and remote documentary checks, and may be subject to physical and identity checks at Border Control Posts. Visit GOV.UK to find out more.

Macleod has a few extra words of advice for anyone just starting to navigate the process: “We found using a customs agent really helps the process run smoothly, but it’s equally important you understand the rules yourself,” he says.

“The GOV.UK site has lots of valuable information.”

And if you want to try Emilia’s Crafted Pasta, their third restaurant opened on the 21st February in Wood Wharf, London.

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