Press Room

18 Jun 2020

Brexit – consequences for UK-EU imports and exports

On Friday 12 June, the UK Government formally notified the EU that the UK will neither request nor will accept an extension to the current Brexit transition phase past 31 December 2020 saying that “the moment for extension has now passed”. The creation of a new customs border between the UK and EU will therefore be effective from 1 January 2021 and full customs border formalities will be required for goods exported from the UK into the EU from this date.  The UK will have the autonomy to introduce its own approach to goods imported to Great Britain from the EU from 1 January 2021.

Given the increased level of certainty this provides, businesses will need to refocus on their Brexit planning to ensure that any changes required can be implemented in time. The UK has taken the decision to introduce the new import border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021 to give businesses affected by coronavirus more time to prepare. This should therefore allow some flexibility in planning. The implementation is broadly split into three phases as follows:
  • From January 2021 – Traders importing standard goods will need to prepare for basic customs requirements but will have up to six months to complete customs declarations. Tariffs will need to be paid on all imports. However, payments can be deferred until the declaration has been made. There will be checks on controlled goods like alcohol and tobacco. Businesses will also need to consider how they account for VAT on imported goods. There will be physical checks on all high risk live animals and plants.
  • From April 2021 – All products of animal origin (POAO) eg, meat and dairy products, all regulated plants and plant products will also require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation.
  • From July 2021 – Importers moving all goods will have to make full declarations at the point of importation and pay the relevant tariffs. Full Safety and Security declarations will be required and increased physical checks on animals, plants and their products will come into force and take place at Border Control Posts.
The easements above are for GB/EU trade. This approach does not apply to the flows of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, details of which have yet to be finalised.
Whilst these easements are good news for UK/EU trade, detailed records will need to be kept to support the deferred declarations and funds will need to be set aside to prepare for any deferred payments to ensure full compliance. Careful planning will therefore be required.
We are working with a number of businesses to help them prepare for these changes so please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any assistance in respect of Brexit planning and preparation for the new border requirements.

Sarah Shears

Sarah is head of the VAT Group. She has a deep indirect tax technical knowledge of across a number of sectors, connecting complex tax technical issues with practical and commercial application.

Email: Sarah Shears