Now that the UK seems destined to withdraw from the EU with no trade agreement, exporting goods to the EU from 1 January 2021 will necessitate a few changes on the part of UK companies. This article sets out the minimum changes you will need to consider.
What this means for you
- Free movement goods across the channel will cease from 1 January 2021.
- From this date you will need to make customs declarations – in most cases – when you export goods to the EU. These rules currently apply to exporting goods to the rest of the world, including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
- You can make the declarations yourself or hire someone else such as a courier, freight forwarder or customs agent.
Unless you have time and the enthusiasm to acquire the necessary skills, we suggest that linking up with a freight forwarder or customs agent is probably the most effective way to reduce the potential delays to your supply lines. The government have published a comprehensive list of customs agents that you can access on the GOV.UK website.
What you need to do now
The minimum actions you should take now are:
If Sending goods by post
You will need to comply with a number of regulations that may require customs declarations to be completed. Your Post Office can probably advise what is required.
Do you have an EORI number?
You will need an EORI number that starts with GB to export goods to the EU from 1 January 2021. This can be applied for on the GOV.UK website.
Investigate how to declare goods from 1 January 2021
You will need to make customs declarations when you export to the EU. There is information on the GOV.UK website that sets out what you need to do but you may like to investigate the use of a customs agency.
Other export rules you may need to consider
You may need export licenses or to check the marking, labelling and marketing standards for food, plant seeds and manufactured goods. If appropriate, you will also need to include appreciation of the specific rules for exporting alcohol, tobacco and certain oils.
Can you charge VAT at 0%?
From 1 January 2021, you can charge EU customers VAT at 0% (known as ‘zero rate’) on most goods you export to the EU.
Do your EU customers need an import license?
Before sending EU customers your goods, check that they can make the necessary import customs declarations. They may also need a licence or certificate to import some types of goods.
The pandemic and the chaos created by the various shades of lock-down have distracted us from the impending no-deal exit from the EU. If your business depends on exporting goods to the EU and you have not yet considered how you are going to cope with the new regulatory processes from 1 January 2020, your simplest option may be to use the services of a customs agent.
You should also take account of the likely effects on your financial forecasts for 2021. We can assist you with this. Please call if you need help considering your options.