VATLive > Blog > Europe > EU states enforce Brexit import customs duties & VAT representative rules

EU states enforce Brexit import customs duties and VAT representative rules

  • Jan 14, 2021 | Richard Asquith

Following the UK leaving the EU Customs Union from 1 January 2021, EU member states have begun to enforce the requirement on UK importers to appoint a resident indirect customs representative or agent for  import customs duties and VAT obligations. This person/business acts as the customs fiscal representative and as the customs declarant - so is jointly and severally liable for import taxes.

The UK also restricts the rights of non-UK resident companies, now including EU businesses, including: This includes being able to get a wide range of customs authorisations and simplifications for example:

  • a special procedures authorisation
  • making simplified customs declarations
  • Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) authorisation
  • a comprehensive customs guarantee

Prior to Brexit’s completion, countries like Germany, France and the Netherlands had been showing some flexibility for infrequent importers from third countries – which the UK is now following Brexit.

The rules for third country importers into the EU Customs Union were set in the EU’s Union Customs Code. It requires the freight forwarder to act as the direct intermediary or the vendor to appoint an indirect representation. Generally, freight companies are very reluctant to be held liable so do not offer this.

The EU has also started enforcing similar requirements on exports from the EU. Third country exporters must appoint a representative and countries are phasing this in.

Explore more content like this in our Brexit hub


VP Global Indirect Tax
Richard Asquith
VP Global Indirect Tax Richard Asquith
Richard Asquith is VP Global Indirect Tax at Avalara, helping businesses understand their compliance obligations as they grow globally. He is part of the European leadership team which won International Tax Review's 2020 Tax Technology Firm of the Year. Richard trained as an accountant with KPMG in the UK, and went on to work in Hungary, Russia and France with EY.
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