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Top tips from a top tipple: how a wine business launched during Brexit adapted to new import rules

Credit: Liquid Diamond
Credit: Liquid Diamond

Promotional feature from HM Government

Beyond Wines was established in 2020 with a mission to “transform ‘nice looking labels’ into ‘successful brands’”.

The timing of the company’s launch was bold. As their website explains: “In September 2020 we knew that with the uncertainty of Brexit looming and, with half of our clients shut, it would be a brilliant time to start a business.

“So we did.”

Since then they haven’t looked back, creating their flagship brand Liquid Diamond, as well as bringing on four new clients and expanding to a team of five.

In order to successfully launch a business during this time, Beyond Wines has needed to navigate new regulations that came into effect on 1 January 2022. These apply to importing and exporting in a post-Brexit world.

Supply chain manager Nick McGregor, tells Yahoo Finance: “Given the start-up nature of Beyond Wines prior to Brexit, we didn’t import any goods until April 2021, when we launched Liquid Diamond.

“After a tricky first quarter of the year, trading under the new rules has become the norm.

“Ensuring we were partnered with experts in the field well before Brexit provided us with a complete end-to-end supply chain and ensured the changeover was as smooth as possible. This was done as soon as the business was incorporated.”

One of the most important regulations is the Rules of Origin, which determine the national origin of a product. This could mean it can be imported or exported at preferential rates under the UK-EU trade agreement.

If this is something you want to do, you must have 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.

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Beyond Wine supply chain manager Nick McGregor

McGregor hasn’t needed to make any adjustments to the way the business works, as he says: “Our business model hasn’t changed. It’s always been vital for us to know the exact origin of all our products.

“[We had to be] aware that customs declarations now need to be made ahead of time and that we need to prepay any tariffs, and sort out a statement of origin.

“However, having freight partners who provide in-house customs agents meant that any changes were discussed and handled by experts for us well in advance. This ensured we were aware of the new rules.”

The Government has extensive guidance on how to find and obtain this proof. You’ll also need to find out the commodity code for your goods, their value, and whether you can either reduce or delay the amount of Customs Duty you owe due to the trade agreement between the UK and the EU.

There are additional licences and certificates needed for high-risk, dangerous or potentially hazardous materials such as (but not limited to, see the full list here) medicines, animal and plant products, and waste.

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

McGregor has lots of helpful advice for anyone navigating the changes. “Make sure you do your research so that you don’t get caught out (the GOV.UK website is always a great starting point) and reach out to businesses or individuals who are experts in the area if you are unsure,” he says.

“Partnering with forwarders who can provide a complete end-to-end package is a must and LinkedIn is a great tool to connect with these experts.

"If unsure, then don’t be afraid to ask - it’s in your interests to get things right from the start. Neither businesses or customers want goods being held up at customs through mistakes which could have been avoided.

“The WSTA is always a useful hub for anything wine related and you can visit GOV.UK for a more general overview of the new requirements.”

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. It can take up to 60 days to complete all the checks needed to qualify, so this will need to be factored into any import plans you have.

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