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Import Clinic: answering your questions on post-Brexit trade

Promotional feature from HM Government

Since 1 January 2022, businesses who trade and move goods from the EU to GB have had to follow new rules. We polled readers of Yahoo Finance for questions they had around post-Brexit trade and put them to Mike Wilson, Chief Executive of Go Exporting to answer…

Q. I am a small GB-based company with production of clothing starting soon in Greece. What are the steps to make sure I meet the new rules when I import to Great Britain?

To import into Great Britain, you will need to complete the following actions:

1. Register for a GB Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI number)

2. Decide whether you will process customs declarations in-house, or use a customs intermediary such as a broker or your freight forwarder/courier

3. Identify the Harmonised System (HS) codes for your products – this is an internationally agreed coding system that identifies the type of product you are importing for customs authorities

4. Use the HS code to check for any certificates or licenses, duties or other conditions you need to follow to import your goods. See this link

5. Ask your manufacturer for a statement of origin for the products to qualify for preferential duty rates under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)

6. Agree Incoterms with your supplier to ensure it is clear who is responsible for what with regards to shipping and customs declarations

7. Review VAT procedures and elect to use ‘Postponed VAT Accounting’ to delay import VAT to your next UK VAT Return

8. Set up a Duty Deferment Account in case any duty is accrued

Q. What are my options for submitting customs declarations?

Most SMEs will use a customs intermediary to submit customs declarations on their behalf. This could be a customs broker, freight forwarder, or courier, for example. Customs declarations can be complicated and a degree of expertise, plus relevant software is required to submit directly to customs authorities yourself. For this reason, many businesses choose to let the experts handle the process.

Q. I'm soon to be launching my own business and need some help to set up to import from the EU. What are my best options? Is this something you can outsource?

Setting up to import or export can be a daunting prospect, particularly if it is the first time you have worked internationally. Fortunately, there is a lot of advice available on GOV.UK. You may want to outsource the whole process, or have an experienced hand guide you.

Q. What is the process to ensure I can qualify for tariff-free access to the EU?

To qualify for tariff-free trade with the EU, your products need to be classed as UK origin under the terms of the UK-EU TCA. Remember - different rules apply depending on your product.

Starting with your HS code, check the rules that apply to your product on GOV.UK and see if your goods comply.

If yes, you can add a statement to your invoices stating that the goods are of UK origin. Be certain, however, as you now need to hold evidence in case you are requested to prove your statement. You may, for example, need a suppliers’ declaration in your records.

Q. What do I need to put on the statement of origin form?

The UK-EU TCA sets out what is needed on a statement of origin on your invoices or a supplier declaration. This is:

“The Exporter of the products covered by this document, Exporter Reference No., declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these goods are of UK preferential origin”.

Remember, you now need to hold the relevant information to support your claim if challenged, including for deliveries made in 2021.

Q. What additional information are drivers required to present at the UK border since 1 Jan 2022?

The main change for drivers passing through the major ports such as Dover and the Channel Tunnel is that they must present a Goods Movement Reference (GMR) to customs in order to start their journey. This is received from the new Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS).

Any haulier or company operating its own vehicles and transporting goods in/out of the country needs to register for GVMS to be able to pre-lodge their vehicle movements before each crossing. One movement reference is required per vehicle. The GMR ties everything together with the customs declaration and helps goods move smoothly through the port.

Q. I’ve heard that some of the new import/export rules may work differently if I’m moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland; is this true, and where can I find out more?

For goods imported from the island of Ireland it is still possible to delay your import customs declaration by up to 175 days. This is the adjustment that the UK government introduced for everyone last year but has now expired for the rest of the UK. Delayed declarations will continue until the negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol are completed.

In addition, the movement of goods to/from Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK now requires a customs declaration. Customs Duty may also be due on goods if they are considered at risk of moving into Ireland. Movements between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and vice versa, are deemed to be intra-EU.

The Government established the Trader Support Service to help businesses manage these changes. This is a useful service that will submit declarations for your business. If sending goods to Northern Ireland, it is well worth registering.

Q. Are there more changes to trade with the EU on the horizon, and if so what can I do to prepare for them and how can I find further information?

The main changes, such as customs declarations and Rules of Origin, have now come into place unless you are importing or exporting products of animal or plant origin. If this is the case, some new requirements will come into force throughout 2022, such as needing Export Health Certificates for certain products and having to pass through a Border Control Post on arrival in GB for visual and paperwork checks of the goods.

Q. Where can I find the most up-to-date information and guidance on the new Brexit import rules?

If you have a specific question about importing, exporting or customs reliefs:

  • Visit GOV.UK for help and support with the UK Brexit Transition. This page offers useful resources including guidance, support videos, email alerts, and webinars.

  • Call the Customs and International Trader helpline on 0300-322-9434. The helpline is open from 8am to 10pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8am to 4pm on weekends. You can also send your questions by webchat.

  • If you’re planning on exporting, the Export Support Service is a new government helpline for UK businesses to get answers to practical questions about exporting to Europe. The service is a ‘one-stop shop’ that brings together UK government information, making it easier for exporters to access advice and support.

Q. Do the new import rules just apply to the EU, or do they include other countries?

The rules for the rest of the world outside the EU have not changed. They will remain the same unless a new trade agreement is formed. The new rules only apply to the EU and form part of the staged introduction of the requirements, which were designed to ease the transition after Brexit. In 2021 we saw a number of easements or delayed introductions of the full rules - many of these have now ended.

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

Read more in our Post Brexit Trade section on Yahoo Finance