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Importing Goods and Brexit

November 03, 2020

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and will be exiting the transition period on 31 December 2020. From a customs perspective, the UK will be outside the EU Customs Union and Single Market.

As such, we know:

• The UK will have its own customs regulations and customs tariff (already published).
• Imports from the EU will be treated the same as the rest of the world and so subject to:
a) Customs regulation.
b) Customs declarations.
c) Customs duties (also known as tariffs) determined on the basis of classification origin and customs value.
• Movements to the EU will be regarded as exports, again requiring customs declarations and potential tariffs in the EU.

The key remaining unknown is whether there will be a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to enable goods that meet specific origin list rules to be shipped between the EU and UK free of duty. If agreement is reached then this is likely to be last minute, leaving businesses to urgently having to determine whether goods meet the origin list rules and how to provide evidence and certification of this.

Time is limited and businesses have a lot to do, including:

1. Examine the customs impact of Brexit (customs’ duty costs, customs declaration costs etc.).
2. Working with customers and suppliers to determine who will take on responsibility for exports, imports, customs’ costs, and compliance.
3. Implement mitigation planning to reduce customs costs.
4. Highlight and address the barriers to movements.
5. Ensure you hold the necessary authorisations (EORI number, Fiscal representation etc.).
6. Engage customs brokers, freight forwarders or other parties to make the necessary customs declarations and determine documentation, data flows and processes to control this (this area is subject to audit-based control).
7. Determine the necessary customs elements (classifications, origins, valuation adjustments etc.) required by the customs declarations.

Things you could do now in preparation are:

1. Apply for an EORI number.
2. Find out how to declare goods.
3. Check rules for importing goods such as:
a. Licences or certificates needed.
b. Marking, labelling and marketing standards.
c. Excise goods (alcohol, tobacco and certain oils).
d. Rate of tax and duty you will need to pay.
4. Review your trading terms and conditions (such as Incoterms) for your sales and purchases.

The UK Government has issued guidance on these topics.

Failures to address these issues could have significant impact on your businesses, including:

• Supply chain delays.
• Additional duty demands or you or your customers.
• Customs penalties.
• Reputational damage.
• Loss of revenue.

The material contained in this note is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances and before action is taken.

© Miller Rosenfalck LLP, November 2020