As of 31st December 2020, the UK officially completed its ‘transition’ out of the EU bringing new rules affecting our industry, impacting trading, duty and more. The UK Government spent many months briefing businesses to get prepared for change, putting the onus firmly on the shoulders of SME’s to unravel to the new rules and how they apply to your business, customers, and trade.
The BPMA continues to update as many resources as possible for members and are still being updated on the links below. Updated import and export guides can be found below. Latest update June 2021.
Here, we recap many of the most frequently asked questions and with a helpful address book for links and resources to help every business find the right information fast.
We are aware of significant and challenging situations for every business. We are still receiving reports of inconsistent carrier and haulier approaches leading to a mixture of challenges for members. We have reported daily back to Government teams the challenges faced and working with carrier trade bodies to improve communications to every member.
Transition Guides from Government
The information found on these pages brings together resources. The Government have issued this further guidance as a starting point which can be downloaded below. Please download and keep these guides on file for a quick reference guide.
18 new video explainers are available to help you understand the actions your business needs to take. Check how the new rules affect you and make any final preparations to keep your business moving. You can watch the videos instantly and access resources here.
Updated Import and Export Guides (July 2021)
Updated guidance with interactive links
Where to start
With the deal done, the ‘transition checklist’ service online is a great place to check what you need for your specific business. It is worth noting that every business has different needs and requirements. Found on www.gov.uk/transition, follow the steps or use the checklist on this page. With over 50% of UK businesses declaring they were not ready for the majority of the measures and immediate concerns directed at lockdown and tiers, breaking down the information and tasks to be done is best approached step by step.
Where possible, dedicate someone in your business to understand the rules. Don’t forget there is still funding for customs training available and excellent online courses available via The Institute of Export & International Trade.
The Government department central to Transition changes is the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy or BEIS for short. All found via Gov.uk, most information businesses need can be located here but is not always easy to find. It is important to note all information, links and resource are subject to any changes from the Government. The BPMA recommends you check Government sources for the most up to date information.
You can download and read The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) below.
- Webinars and recent recordings
- Export and Import including Northern Ireland and Trader Support Service
- Origin of Goods
- VAT and EU VAT
- Postal routes and temporary rules
- Customs documents
- Export compliance
- UKCA & CE
- Conformity assessments
- Brexit Transition address book
What the deal contained
Agreeing a tariff- and quota-free trade deal had been the primary objective of the negotiations.
The FTA achieves this goal, allowing traders to move goods between the UK and EU without paying duties, so long as they comply with ‘Rules of Origin’ included in the deal.
|Rules of Origin |
Rules of Origin determine the economic nationality of a good and are often a key component of FTAs signed between countries.
Under the agreement, companies will be able to self-certify the origin of their goods and where the processing takes place will also count towards this.
|New Customs procedures |
New customs and VAT rules will apply for UK and EU trade – including the requirement for companies to complete customs declarations.
However, the FTA includes a protocol for UK-EU cooperation when it comes to combatting VAT, customs and excise fraud. The UK can instruct the EU to recover unpaid UK tax from EU companies on its behalf and the EU may make the same request.
|SPS rules |
Whilst less relevant to BPMA members, in a chapter on human, animal and plant life and health, the agreement states that the UK and EU may set and implement their own independent sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules and controls.
This will require companies trading affected goods – agri-food producers and grocery retailers in particular – to attain new certification and comply with border checks.
The UK’s access to European financial markets was not finalised in the deal, with the UK still seeking ‘equivalence’ status from the EU. The EU has not yet decided whether the UK’s financial regulatory framework and implementation is as rigorous as its own.
The UK and EU have stated that they will codify a framework for regulatory cooperation in a Memorandum of Understanding.
The UK can now set its own rules in areas such as environmental standards or labour law.
However, if either the UK or EU strays too far from each other’s standards, there is a “rebalancing mechanism” whereby one party can impose tariffs should it deem that its own businesses are put at an unfair disadvantage by the divergence.
This mechanism will be governed by international law rather than UK or EU law.
The UK government can also set its own subsidies for its domestic industries and businesses.
According to the government’s own summary of the agreement: “each Party will have in place its own independent system of subsidy control and that neither Party is bound to follow the rules of the other.”
However, companies in the EU can challenge government state-aid in the UK’s courts and UK companies can do the same in the EU.
The UK and EU will recognise each other’s AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) schemes, allowing for AEO-approved firms to move goods more easily between the UK and EU. The principles of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the Revised Kyoto Convention will also apply in the deal, meaning both parties will cooperate on expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including those that are in transit.
Road haulage operators moving goods between the UK and EU will continue to do so without new permit requirements.
UK hauliers will be subject to similar standards they already comply with when operating internationally, including restrictions on driver hours, requirement for professional qualifications as well as vehicle weight and dimension limits.
However, British truckers will be limited to a single drop-off and a single pick-up when in Europe – a downgrade on the three pick-ups they could do within EU countries before.
Short-term business visits to the EU will be allowed for up to 90 days in any 180-day month period.
Take the transition checklist online now to understand what steps and action your business needs to take.
Brexit Transition webinars
Latest information webinars & videos
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
NEW video content released 28th January 2021
To support firms, BEIS has launched a series of new on demand videos to help you familiarise yourselves with the new rules and the actions you should take. You can find out more about 18 topics, including importing and exporting, trade, data, audit and accounting.
Alphabetical list of video subjects
1. Businesses and Trade Agreements (not yet available)
2. Businesses Engaged in Emissions Trading
3. Businesses Hiring Overseas Staff
4. Businesses Involved in the Horizon 2020 Funding Service
5. Businesses Involved with Data
6. Businesses Operating Online
7. Businesses Preparing and Auditing Financial Accounts
8. Businesses Providing Services to EU Markets
9. Businesses Shipping Waste between GB and EU
10. Businesses who Import and Export
11. Businesses Working with Intellectual Property
12. Chemical Regulations
13. Moving Goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland
14. Placing and Selling Goods on the Market
15. REACH Chemical Regulations
16. Recognition of Professional Qualifications
17. Rules of Origin
18. Trade Tariffs
Several dates are offered with each session. Please use the links to register for each webinar. The BPMA is gathering information from each session to post on these pages for members.
Institute of Export UK Trade Deal Webinar
- Exporting: staged border controls, zero-rated VAT, customs declaration, using an intermediary as well as licences, certificates, and authorisations that you’ll need. Register for this session here if you are planning to export.
- Trader Responsibilities: If you import or export goods between the UK and the EU your business will need to complete import or export declarations, or both. As this is a complicated process a lot of businesses choose to use an intermediary to do these for them. Register for this session here if you are planning to import and export.
- Explaining customs import declarations: If you import goods, you’ll need to prepare for making customs import declarations on controlled goods from 1 January, and by the end of June on all goods. This webinar will help you to understand what they are in more detail. This includes what is needed for simplified declarations, supplementary declarations, making import declarations without authorisation, and delayed import declarations. Please register for this session here if you plan to import.
- Importing: Staged controls Recognising the impact of coronavirus on businesses’ ability to prepare for the 31 December 2020 deadline, the UK in introducing the new border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021. This flexible approach will give you extra time to make necessary arrangements. Please register for this session here if you plan to import.
A selection of useful subjects can be found below.
- Asking a third party to deal with customs – watch here
- Regulation of manufactured goods – watch here
- Changes in IP – watch here
- Consumer goods – watch here
- REACH compliance – watch here
- Export Action Plan – visit OpentoExport here
Export and Import – what’s changed for you and your customers
When exporting to a third country, the merchandise needs to be declared to the customs authority of the country the goods will leave.
A step by step guide to show what documents and information you need to start exporting from GB to the EU.
When importing to a third country, the merchandise needs to be declared to the customs authority of the receiving country.
Usually the information will be transferred electronically before the actual import of the merchandise.
Guidance on moving goods can be found here. There may be changes to some processes if you either:
- trade or move goods between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland
- import goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and from outside the EU
This guidance explains what you may need to do. Download the most recent guidance with links to EORI numbers and more below.
VAT and Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland Protocol means that Northern Ireland maintains alignment with the EU VAT rules for goods, including on goods moving to, from and within Northern Ireland. However, Northern Ireland is, and will remain, part of the UK’s VAT system.
HMRC will continue to be responsible for the operation of VAT and collection of revenues in Northern Ireland.
This guidance sets out how VAT will work for individuals and non-VAT-registered businesses moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the small number of cases where a change to processes will occur.
More guidance can be found here.
Trader Support Service (TSS)
Free-to-use service for Northern Ireland. The Trader Support Service (TSS) will guide you through any changes due to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol and can:
- help if you move goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, or bring goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK
- complete declarations on your behalf without the need for specialist advice or software
Find more here.
Further information is listed below covering export declarations, the origin of goods, VAT and more.
Origin of Goods
The videos posted on this page from The Institute of Export features a useful explanation of the origin of goods.
UK exporters have been given a year’s grace period on certifying the origin of components that make up their manufactured goods. This Rules of Origin waiver is part of the UK’s trade deal with the EU (the ‘Trade and Cooperation Agreement’) which came into force on 31 December at 11pm GMT (12 midnight CET).
The deal took effect at the same time as the UK formally left the EU Customs Union and Single Market, becoming a ‘third country’ in trade and customs terms. Customs checks began taking place on goods movement between the EU and UK on Friday 1 January.
Under the UK-EU trade agreement, companies will be able to self-certify the origin of their goods and where the processing takes place will also count towards this.
Another trade deal easement is the year-long waiver for UK manufacturers on completing Rules of Origin certification for parts sourced outside the EU.
Read more here to explore the Rules of Origin and how they are applied to goods in our sector.
Download the most frequently asked questions below
Preferential and non-preferential origin
There are two types of origin, preferential and non-preferential. Non-preferential applies when countries wish to identify the origin of goods for statistical, trade control or political purposes, has national legal basis and is mandatory for products on import and export.
Preferential origin is used solely to provide duty benefits through a Free Trade Agreement and is optional.
Before you work out whether your items qualify you will need to obtain the 4-digit tariff heading that covers your product. This you can obtain from the HMRC Trade Tariff database.
You will also need to locate Customs Notice 828 as you will need to refer to the lists contained.
You then need to determine if your product is wholly produced in one country, with no involvement from any other country. Even the smallest amount of materials or processing from another country will disqualify the product from being wholly produced. Wholly produced generally means items that are grown, born and bred or mined. See Section 4 of Customs Notice 828 for the list of allowable wholly produced items.
If you have determined that your product does qualify at this stage, then this is the ‘nationality’ or country of origin of your product. If not, you will need to complete the following steps.
Last, Substantial, Economic, Process
The origin definition for preferential and non-preferential is quite simple and easy to remember:
- Last – The very last place that processes took place.
- Substantial – The processing done is of a reasonable level, above that detailed in the minimum lists (Section 9 of Notice 828).
- Economic – The processing involved should add value to the finished product.
- Process – The product should undergo a level of manufacture which transforms the combined materials to that of the finished product often changing tariff heading.
If your product has passed those 4 rules, the ‘nationality’ (non-preferential origin) of your product will be listed in 1. ‘Last’. i.e. GB, FR, IE. This is your country of origin.
The same rules above apply to determine the origin definition for preferential purposes too, however you must ensure the following also applies:
- Transport Rule – goods must be shipped direct between the preference giving countries. They can pass through other countries but only for transit purposes. They must not undergo any operation other than the usual for transportation purposes or those which may be used to keep them in good condition.
- The origin rule, as stated in Section 6 of Customs Notice 828.
- Ensure there is a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the destination country.
It is important to note that many promotional merchandise products fall under insufficient processing.
Relevant TCA articles:
- Article ORIG.7 (page 30 and 31) Insufficient Production
- Article ORIG.4 (page 28) Cumulation of origin
A trade agreement includes a list of processes that, if carried out on non-originating materials, are considered such minor processing that they do not on their own confer originating status. Even if a product meets its product specific rule, if the only processing carried out on non-originating materials is listed as ‘insufficient’, that product will not obtain originating status.
In cumulation of origin, cumulation does not apply for these purposes – if the only processing carried out on a product in the UK is insufficient, it will not meet the rules of origin even if the processing was carried out on EU-originating materials or if further processing (beyond insufficient) had previously been carried out in the EU.
TCA list of insufficient working or processes
The full list of processes which do not confer originating status for the purposes of the TCA is available in Article ORIG.7 Insufficient Production. Completion of one or any combination of the included processes is insufficient to confer originating status.
For example, ‘simple painting and polishing operations’ or ‘peeling, stoning and shelling, of fruits, nuts and vegetables’ are not considered to be significant manufacturing and as such do not confer originating status by themselves.
Interpretation of the term ‘simple’
Some of the listed operations can be clearly identified as insufficient operations, such as the affixing of a label on the product. However, there are also some operations that need to be assessed further as they contain the term ‘simple’, for example ‘simple assembly’.
Operations are considered ‘simple’ if neither special skills nor machines, apparatus or equipment especially produced or installed are needed for carrying out those operations.
Please read more about this here.
There are funded courses for Rules of Origin. You can view this information here.
Institute of Export Country of Origins Webinar
The Institute held a one-hour webinar to give an overview of these new rules, covering:
– What is origin and why is it important in international trade
– What are the rules of origin in the UK: EU trade deal
– Key principles around bilateral cumulation, when they do and don’t apply
– Proving origin: supplier declarations and importer’s knowledge
– Use of customs and trade procedures to support effective trade and zero tariffs
– Commercial implications for businesses, challenges and opportunities
Recorded 26th January 2021, featuring regular BPMA speaker, Kevin Shakespeare, this hour-long session is informative.
VAT and Export
From 11pm on 31 December 2020, consignments of goods with a value of £135 or less that are outside:
- the UK and sold directly to customers (not through an online marketplace) in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) will have UK supply VAT charged at the point of sale
- the UK and EU and sold directly to customers (not through an online marketplace) in Northern Ireland will have import VAT charged
The £135 limit applies to the value of a total consignment that is imported, not the separate value of individual items that are in a consignment.
These rules will not apply to the import of:
- consignments of goods containing excise goods – find out more about importing excise goods to the UK from the EU from 1 January 2021
- non-commercial goods (for example, gifts) – find out more about tax and customs for gifts sent from abroad
These rules will also not apply to consignments of goods from Jersey and Guernsey, if VAT is collected and paid to HMRC under the Import VAT Accounting Scheme.
Find more information here.
Public Postal Operators (PPOs) interact on a global level to exchange mail and parcels. Where no customs unions exist, merchandise needs to be customs cleared. Private people and companies can send merchandise to third countries (e.g. to UK after a No Deal or hard Brexit) through a postal operator and have the merchandise customs cleared in the destination country.
In this process, the recipient (importer) of the merchandise will pay VAT, customs duties and a handling fee upon delivery.
New VAT rules for overseas firms selling goods into the UK are leading some EU businesses to stop trade with the UK. We are hearing increasing reports of refusal to export to the UK due to the complications. The BPMA has reported these and numerous challenges members are facing to Government contacts.
Please note, VAT is now collected by HMRC at the point of sale rather than the point of importation, requiring overseas sellers to register with HMRC and account for VAT themselves, when the sale is lower than a value of £135.
The Government published updated advice about the new rules on 3 December 2020.
International shipping companies – including FedEx and TNT – are also levying additional charges on shipments between the UK and EU to cover new administrative charges as a result of the end of the transition period.
We are aware TNT is now imposing a surcharge of £4.31 on all shipments between the UK and the EU. The company is owned by Federal Express, which has also updated its charges. DHL and UPS have taken similar measures.
Inward Customs Processing
Use inward processing to delay or reduce import duties or VAT on goods that you process or repair. Find out more here.
If you’re authorised to use inward processing to process or repair your goods, you will not need to pay Customs Duty and import VAT on goods that you import from outside the UK and then re-export from the UK.
If you keep your goods in the UK, you can pay a reduced amount of Customs Duty and import VAT if the duty rate for the processed goods is lower than the imported goods.
You can also delay paying excise duty on goods you process, but you’ll have to pay the duty if you release the goods into free circulation.
To apply for inward processing, you’ll need:
- to be established in the UK
- an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number
- to check if you need a guarantee
- to check if you need an import licence
Apply for an account to defer duty payments when you import or release goods into Great Britain
Find out how to apply for a duty deferment account so you can delay paying most customs or tax charges when you import goods into Great Britain or release goods from an excise warehouse. Find out more here.
If you import goods regularly, you can apply for a duty deferment account to delay paying most customs or tax charges, for example:
- Customs Duty
- excise duties
- import VAT
You can also apply to delay paying duties on goods released from an excise warehouse.
A duty deferment account lets the importer (or someone who represents them) make one payment a month through Direct Debit instead of paying for individual consignments.
If you’re registered for VAT and your business imports goods, you can account for your import VAT on your VAT Return instead of paying the VAT by duty deferment. You must do this if you’re delaying your declarations.
Samples – Export
If you’re importing commercial samples from countries outside the UK, you may be able to claim relief from Customs Duty and VAT. Find out more here
You can get relief if you’re either a:
- commercial entity within the UK
- government agency or department, public institution or public establishment, recognised and approved by HMRC
In addition the goods must be:
- used as commercial samples and show the characteristics of the goods they represent
- prepared and presented in an acceptable way before importation
- imported solely with the intention of obtaining future orders for the type of goods they represent
Please read the guidance on samples and how to treat them.
VAT and Import
- The Exporter pays VAT together with any customs duties to customs authorities in destination country (usually via a customs broker).
- The Importer of the item pays VAT, customs duties, handling fees and in some cases excise duties upon receipt of the merchandise (usually to the postman, the usual process for merchandise items sent via a public postal operator including customs clearance in the destination country)
Paying VAT on imports from outside the UK to Great Britain and from outside the EU to Northern Ireland
If you import goods into Great Britain from outside the UK or from outside the EU to Northern Ireland you may have to pay import VAT on goods. For supplies of services from outside the UK you must account for VAT under the reverse charge procedure. More guidance here.
The EU has rules for VAT and each EU country also has its own VAT rules that may be applied.
Value Added Tax (VAT) is a consumption tax that is applied to nearly all goods and services that are bought and sold for use or consumption in the EU.
The EU has standard rules on VAT, but these rules may be applied differently in each EU country. In most cases, you have to pay VAT on all goods and services at all stages of the supply chain including the sale to the final consumer. This includes from the beginning to the end of a production process, e.g. buying components, transport, assembly, provisions, packaging, insurance and shipping to the final consumer.
When is VAT charged?
For EU-based companies, VAT is chargeable on most sales and purchases of goods within the EU. In such cases, VAT is charged and due in the EU country where the goods are consumed by the final consumer. Likewise, VAT is charged on services at the time they are carried out in each EU country.
VAT isn’t charged on exports of goods to countries outside the EU. In these cases, VAT is charged and due in the country of import and you don’t need to declare any VAT as an exporter. However, when exporting goods you will need to provide documentation as proof that the goods were transported outside the EU. Such proof could be provided by presenting a copy of an invoice, a transportation document or an import customs record to your tax authorities.
You will need to provide this proof to be able to fully deduct any receivable VAT that you have paid in a previous related transaction leading up to the export. Insufficient documentation may mean you won’t have the right to a VAT reimbursement when exporting goods.
Netherlands: Holland International Distribution Council
For some markets, setting up an EU VAT number is complex. Normally when entering a foreign market, you have to pay taxes and duties at the moment of clearance. The Netherlands provides VAT deferment and bonded warehousing.
For BPMA members looking for EU VAT set up, logistics solutions we recommend contacting HIDC for advice. The advice is a complementary service funded by the Council and the Dutch Government to encourage trade.
Visit their website for more information here
For EU VAT advice in this market, click here.
Please visit the European Union website here to view by topic.
VAT number requirements by country here.
VAT refunds topic here
Cross border VAT information here.
Sending Consignments via Post
When you import or export goods by post through Royal Mail or Parcelforce Worldwide, certain procedures apply. It also applies to gifts received through the post. Unless specified otherwise, all further references to Royal Mail within the text of this notice also applies to Parcelforce Worldwide, who are part of Royal Mail Group Ltd.
The arrangements set out in this notice do not apply when a full declaration on a single administrative document (SAD) (form C88) is required. That is for:
- imports of goods with a value exceeding £900 declared to home use and free circulation
- imports of goods subject to customs special procedures for example, inward processing relief, outward processing relief and temporary importation
- certain exports including all goods for export with a value exceeding £900
You can find more information on the procedures you should use in Notice 144 Trade imports by post: how to complete customs documents.
The notice is not the law and does not change the law – extracts of which can be found in section 6.
The carriage of dangerous goods in post, including (but not limited to) alcohol and perfume, by post is regulated by the Universal Postal Union rules and Royal Mail Group conditions of carriage. Nothing in this notice should be construed as legitimising movement of any goods by post.
You can find information about exporting or importing by post on the Royal Mail website or by phoning Royal Mail Customer Services on Telephone: 03457 740 740. You can also go to the Parcelforce Worldwide website or phone Parcelforce Worldwide Customer Services on Telephone: 0344 800 4466.
Please find more updated information here.
For postal consignments, you will need certain forms as noted below which link to the value of the item.
- CN22 or CN33 customs document
- Invoice (with copies) with each item
- Sending companies need to enter the customs codes on CN22/CN23 forms to identify content
- More help and advice available here
The Exporter needs to prove to the local customs authorities that the merchandise item has been exported to a third country, i.e. Export from the UK to a third country or Export from the EU to a third country.
- Export proof document
- Customs authorities also may accept alternative export proof information for example Airwaybills, Track and Trace Information or Invoices.
- The details depend on the requirements of the national customs authority.
If the customs authority has accepted the export proof document, the exporter of the goods can VAT zero rate the sale.
If you import consignments not exceeding £135 in value
For imports of goods from outside the UK in consignments not exceeding £135 in value (which aligns with the threshold for customs duty liability), HM Government will be moving the point at which VAT is collected from the point of importation to the point of sale. This will mean that UK supply VAT, rather than import VAT, will be due on these consignments.
The new arrangements will also involve the abolition of Low Value Consignment Relief, which relieves import VAT on consignments of goods valued at £15 or less.
Online marketplaces (OMPs), where they are involved in facilitating the sale, will be responsible for collecting and accounting for the VAT.
For goods sent from overseas and sold directly to UK consumers without OMP involvement, the overseas seller will be required to register and account for the VAT to HMRC.
Business to business sales not exceeding £135 in value will also be subject to the new rules. However, where the business customer is VAT registered in the UK and provides its valid VAT registration number to the seller, the VAT will be accounted for by the customer by means of a reverse charge.
The changes will not apply to consignments of goods containing excise goods or to non- commercial transactions between private individuals. Existing rules will continue to apply for these transactions.
Sending parcels between Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021
Updated guidance released 31st December can be found here.
HMRC is adopting a temporary approach to applying declaration requirements for the movement of goods in parcels by express carriers and the Royal Mail Group. This recognises the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland, the impacts of any disruption to parcel movements in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and specific challenges for operators moving express consignments.
This guidance sets out the detail of this approach, including that declarations continue to be required from 1 January 2021 for prohibited and restricted goods as well as excise goods.
Controls through the Goods Vehicle Movement Service and inventory systems at ports will remain in place through the period that these arrangements are in force. Similarly, VAT requirements will continue to apply. Further, HMRC is working with express carriers and Royal Mail to monitor the flow of goods from 1 January.
- Where no customs unions exist, goods needs to be customs cleared when moved to a third country.
- For shipments with a value exceeding the postal clearance limits the commercial customs clearance process is utilised. Companies can send goods to third countries (e.g. to UK after a hard Brexit) and have the merchandise customs cleared by a customs broker.
- Companies who want to import from the EU (or other third countries) into the UK post-Brexit will require a UK EORI number.
- Companies who want to import goods into the EU from the UK (or other third countries) will require an EU EORI number
- If you have a subsidiary in the UK and you export goods from France to your subsidiary, you will need to complete an export declaration in France and an import declaration in the UK. You will need an EU EORI number and a GB EORI number.
- Some commercial agreements stipulate that either the buyer or the seller is responsible for both the import declaration and the export declaration.
- The choice of Incoterms often determines each party’s responsibilities in an agreement.
- If your business completes both declarations, you will need an EU EORI number and a GB EORI number. More information here www.gov.uk/eori
Check which EORI number you need
If you’re based in the UK you must get an EORI number that starts with GB. If you already have an EORI number and it does not start with GB, you must apply for a GB EORI number.
You may also need an EORI number starting with XI if you move goods to or from Northern Ireland.
If your business will be making certain declarations or getting a customs decision in the EU you may need an EORI number from an EU country. Contact the customs authority in an EU country to get an EU EORI number. You do not need an EORI number from an EU country if you already have an XI EORI number.
Getting through customs: what customs documents do you need?
- Invoice + Copy (Trade or Proforma)
- Export declaration (if value over 1000,- EUR)
- Transport documentation (Airwaybill (AWB), CMR**, CN22/23)
- Proof of Export (for VAT purposes)
- Invoice (Trade or Proforma)
- Preference (EUR1, Form A, Certificate of origin***)
- Transport documentation (e.g. AWB, CMR, CN22/23)
- Licenses and Approvals (e.g. for pharmaceutical products )
Declarations for exports
*Depending on the customs clearance process and national customs authority, the required customs documents may vary. This chart gives a general overview on documents which may be required. **CMR = Standardised document for cross-border transport of cargo by road, in force in the European Union. ***A certificate of origin (often abbreviated to C/O or CO) is a document widely used in international trade transactions which attests that the product listed therein has met certain criteria to be considered as originating in a particular country. A certificate of origin is generally prepared and completed by the exporter or the manufacturer and may be subject to official certification by an authorised third party like e.g. a Chamber of commerce. It is often submitted to a customs authority of the importing country to justify the product’s eligibility for entry and/or its entitlement to preferential treatment.
Whose invoice should feature on exports from the UK?
We are often asked which invoice should feature, especially when sending under plain cover. Always check your specific export scenario.
- The commercial invoice is the primary document used in international trade to provide information about a shipment or transaction and identify products being shipped. It is used to support customs declarations in valuation and duty determination, and when submitting certificates of origin or other documents for certification.
- In many cases, a commercial invoice will be the same as a sales invoice, although specific version, containing particular information may be required in certain circumstances, or when trading with specific countries.
- The completed invoice and any licences or certificates must travel with the goods.
- When filling in the value of your goods on the invoice, use the price you’re selling them for.
- If you’re not selling the goods, use the market value of the goods. List any freight or export insurance you included in the price separately.
- You may need proof of origin if exporting to a country where your goods have a reduced or zero rate of duty.
Visit the Export section on Gov.uk here.
Three factors have to be taken into consideration to calculate the customs duties to be paid when trading goods:
- The value of the goods
Customs duties and value added tax (VAT) are calculated as a percentage of the goods’ value.
Tariffs & Commodity Codes
You’ll need a commodity code to make your customs declaration when you bring goods in or send goods out of the UK. This includes goods sent to you from abroad.
If you classify your goods correctly you’ll know what rate of duty and import VAT you should pay, and if:
- the duty is suspended
- you need a licence to move your goods
- your goods are covered by:
- Agricultural Policy
- anti-dumping duties
- tariff quotas
Many promotional merchandise items are classified under ‘Hard to Classify’ and it’s important to find the right codes. See which areas are covered here.
You must send one email for each of the goods you’re asking advice on if you cannot find the Codes you need.
Items packaged as a set
If your items are packaged in a set to sell and be used together, you should classify them to the most significant item in that set or, if that’s not identifiable, under the commodity code with the highest numerical value.
You must classify the items separately if they’re either:
- not packaged as a set for retail sale
- not to be used together
If an item is made of more than one substance
As a general rule, if you have an item made of 2 substances (for example, clothing that is 60% cotton and 40% polyester) you’d usually classify the item using the higher percentage content. There are exceptions, so check the relevant section and chapter notes for your goods.
Formal legally binding decision
You can apply for a Binding Tariff Information decision in Northern Ireland or an Advanced Tariff Ruling in Great Britain. This is a legally binding decision on the commodity code to use for your goods and can take between 30 and 60 days to be processed. Use this method if:
- your goods are hard to classify and informal advice is inappropriate for you or your business
- your goods are a new type
- you need a longer lasting and legally binding decision for your goods
The customs tariff to be applied
Check your TARIC (Integrated Tariff of the European Communities) check the applicable code number.
The origin of the goods
Preferential origin is conferred on goods from particular countries, which have fulfilled certain criteria allowing preferential rates of duty to be claimed. There will be no preferential origin of goods manufactured in the UK* when entering the European Union after a No Deal Brexit
*https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/sites/taxation/files/notice-to-stakeholders-brexit-preferential-origin-final_en.pdf Source and further information: https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/calculation-customs-duties_en
|Customs declarations will be required for all EU traffic||A CN22 or CN23 form will be required for all items/goods(excluding personal correspondence),attached to the outside of parcels or letters|
|Customs data will need to be submitted electronically||Provide electronic customer data for all export items/goods via an approved shipping solution.|
|Customs clearance fees may be payable on items/goods (entering the EU from the UK||You will need to understand clearance fees and what VAT and duties are applicable (and how the recipient will pay these)|
|It will be mandatory to have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number to send to the EU from the UK||If you do not have an EORI number you will need to register with the HMRC for your unique business number|
|Items valued at under £22 which are currently part of the Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) scheme are not subject to VAT or duties||Items values at under £22 will remain part of the LVCR scheme for items sent into the EU and not be subject to VAT until 1st July 2021 (subject to EU negs)|
|Commercial items/goods sent to the EU over £22 and below £150 may be taxed at the border any may incur a customs clearance fee in the receiving country||You will need to under clearance fees and what VAT and duties are applicable|
|Commercial items/goods sent to the EU over£150 may attract VAT, duties and a customs clearance fee||You will need to under clearance fees and what VAT and duties are applicable|
|Register to pay VAT using the Import One Stop Shop Scheme(IOSS) applicable from July 2021 for exporters sending commercial items/goods under £150 to the EU, where you pay VAT (where applicable) on behalf of the buyer||More information on|
ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business_en and search for Import One Stop Shop
Placing goods on the market: UKCA, UKNI and CE Marking
Please visit the official guidance on UKCA here.
- If you self-certify or use an EU Notified Body, you can still use the CE marking until 1January 2022 for goods placed on the GB market (more in some cases). In this case, you can continue to use your EU Declaration of Conformity.
- The CE marking will still be required for products placed on the EU market.
- You can place the UKCA and CE marking on the same product if it is destined for both the GB and EU so long as the product meets the rules for both markets.
New approach: Goods with a CE-marking may be placed on the UK market until 1 January 2022 e.g. Toys, PPE, machinery.
Old approach: Changes to existing standalone regulation models depend on specific goods
Non-Harmonised Goods: mutual recognition will no longer apply to non-harmonised goods in GB
- From 1 January 2021 new approach products assessed against GB rules by a GB ‘Approved Body’ will need the UKCA marking. In this case, you will need to use a UK Declaration of Conformity.
- If you currently self-certify for the CE mark you can also do so for the UKCA mark.
- From 1 January 2021 the essential requirements and standards that can be used to demonstrate compliance to the UKCA marking will be the same as they are now for the CE marking
Training and Information from UK Approved Bodies
BSI: Visit their website for more information and training here. Watch on-demand videos relevant to our industry here. Please note the recording of the recent UKCA webinar held on 24th March 2021 can be found here.
Download webinar notes below.
Intertek: Visit their website for more information here.
SGS: Visit their website for more information here.
Do you need a conformity assessment?
Placing new approach goods on the GB market
All UK-based ‘notified bodies’ will automatically become UK approved bodies from 1 January 2021. You can find details of UK notified bodies on the EU NANDO database or the UKAS website. UKCA marking will become mandatory for most goods currently requiring the CE mark from 1 January 2022. If your product requires third-party conformity assessment this will need to be done by a UK-recognised body from 1 January 2022 (in most cases). The CE marking will still be required for products placed on the EU market.
Placing new approach goods on the EU market
From 1 January 2021 mandatory conformity assessments by UK bodies will no longer be recognised in the EU (unless agreed otherwise in negotiations). Businesses should speak to their existing certification bodies to discuss options.
Arrange for separate certificates for the UK and EU markets to be ready well in advance of 1 January 2022. There may be a requirement for a level of re-assessment before the second certificate is issued so you should start planning as soon as possible. Contact your notified bodies as soon as possible to understand your options for conformity assessments for the UK and EU markets.
Who is responsible for being compliant?
A UK-based distributor of EU goods may become an ‘importer’ – and vice-versa. Compared to distributors, importers have a stronger duty to ensure products are compliant and often must ensure their address is on a product. Review guidance on the responsibilities of importers by searching for ‘placing goods on the GB market’ on gov.uk Authorised Representatives for the GB market must be based in GB or NI. GB-based Authorised Representatives will also no longer be recognised in EU.
EU legislation coming into force on 16 July 2021 may mean you need to appoint an EU representative if there is no other economic operator in place.
- Both the UK and EU would operate REACH, but the two systems would not be linked in any way
- Businesses will need to take steps to ensure regulatory requirements are fulfilled on both sides of the Channel in order to maintain continuity of supply chains
- Companies from both markets would have ‘third country’ status in the other > UK companies procuring chemicals directly from EU/EEA suppliers, will change from downstream users to importers under UK REACH.
UK companies procuring chemicals directly from EU/EEA suppliers, will change from downstream users to importers under UK REACH. Existing UK-held EU REACH registrants have 120 days to provide UK authorities with some initial information. DEFRA have extended the deadline for importers of substances from EU based registrants by a further 120 days. These registrants now have 300 days to provide UK authorities with some initial information. Companies then have 2, 4 or 6 years beginning after those 300 days for full registrations to be completed. These deadlines are dependent on tonnage bands and hazard profile, with the highest tonnage and most hazardous chemicals first
Maintaining EU/EEA Market Access and Making New Registrations
REACH registrations and existing EU authorisations decisions held by UK entities would no longer be valid under EU REACH after the Transition Period. UK registration holders would need to transfer their registration to an EU-27/EEA Legal Entity. Alternatively, EU/EEA companies may register the substance themselves as an importer.To register a new chemical for the EU/EEA and UK markets businesses would need to register with both REACH regimes. register with both REACH regimes.
REACH actions to take
- Identify the chemicals you manufacture, sell or use and their regulatory responsibilities with respect to that chemical in the UK market.
- Check plans across your supply chain to understand what information you may need to provide to maintain UK and EU market access.
- Consider appropriate actions if the status of existing EU REACH registrations or authorisations could change.
More information can be found here: REACH-IT@defra.gov.uk
Establishing UK REACH
Click here to download more information from HSE on establishing UK REACH.
Tariff Checks: know your numbers
UK Global Tariff will apply to all goods from 1st January 2021 unless you have an exception
- Developing country that pays less or no duty because its part of a generalised scheme of preferences
- Has a trade agreement with the UK
- Has a tariff suspension
The UK Global Tariff replaces the current common external tariff and EU trade agreements will no longer apply to the UK. It is looking now unlikely we will reproduce the effects of a trading agreement and we will go to WTO terms.
Every business will need to know the right commodity codes for import and export to avoid issues and delays. It is recommended to check the guidance for ‘hard to classify’ goods to check the duty and if you need a license. Use the Tariff Tool to find the right information especially if you send out a variety of goods.
Check what you need to do with data here. Advice for SME’s and organisations including advice about sending and receiving data, how to handle EU customer data.
Using personal data in your business or other organisation from 1st January 2021.
This information is for UK businesses and other organisations that receive and transfer personal data to/from organisations abroad, including the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes the EU and operate in the EEA. Find more information here.
Further information can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) website. The ICO is the independent supervisory authority for data protection in the UK.
Receiving personal date for the EU/EEA and already adequate third countries
The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement contains a bridging mechanism that allows the continued free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK after the transition period until adequacy decisions come into effect, for up to 6 months. EU adequacy decisions for the UK would allow for the ongoing free flow of data from the EEA to the UK.
As a sensible precaution, during the bridging mechanism, it is recommended that you work with EU/EEA organisations who transfer personal data to you to put in place alternative transfer mechanisms to safeguard against any interruption to the free flow of EU to UK personal data.
For most organisations, the most relevant of these will be Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs). The ICO also provides more detailed guidance on what actions might be necessary and an interactive tool that allows you to build SCCs.
11 of the 12 third countries deemed adequate by the EU are maintaining unrestricted personal data flows with the UK. Further information can be found on the ICO’s website.
Data protection at the end of the Transition period
The Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020. As part of the new trade deal, the EU has agreed to delay transfer restrictions for at least four months, which can be extended to six months (known as the bridge). The UK Government are seeking adequacy decisions from the European Commission. In the absence of adequacy decisions at the end of the bridge, transfers from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK will need to comply with EU GDPR transfer restrictions. If you receive personal data from the EEA, we recommend you put alternative safeguards in place before the end of April, if you haven’t done so already. We will keep our guidance under review, and update it as the situation evolves. Please continue to monitor the ICO website for updates.
Does this guidance apply to us?
If you’re new to this topic, go here first for an overview of the key points you need to know and practical guidance to help you prepare for the end of the transition period.
This guidance explains data protection at the end of the Brexit transition period in more detail. Read it if you have detailed questions not answered in our other resources, or if you need a deeper understanding of data protection law and how it has changed
It is particularly relevant to UK businesses and organisations that rely on international data flows, target European customers or operate inside the European Economic Area (EEA).
This guidance is aimed primarily at DPOs and those with specific data protection responsibilities. It is not aimed at individuals and, if needed, we will provide guidance for individuals in due course.
Transition Address Book
In this section are various links to help members navigate to the right information via Government and other sites. The BPMA is not responsible for the content on these sites and provides this resource linked to general information members may need.
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