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UK complete Brexit customs declarations

  • Feb 1, 2021 | Richard Asquith

Any UK or EU ecommerce sellers selling goods between the UK and EU have to now compete customs declarations for the first time. This follows the UK leaving the EU Customs Union on 31 December 2020 following the UK’s Brexit vote.

Failure to do so will mean your freight or postal agent will refuse to accept the goods, as customs would not accept them either. You will also have to think about how to classify your goods and what tariffs or VAT is payable – see elsewhere in this guide. Review our Brexit VAT and Customs checklist.

The UK has offered import declarations delay until 1 July 2021.

Parcel customs declarations

Small parcels generally have simplified disclosure requirements.  

  • Packages weighing up to two kilograms with a value of up to €425 (£270 for UK) require a CN22 customs declaration.  
  • The CN23 is used for packages weighing from two to 20 kilograms with a value of €425 (£279 for UK) or more.

How do I complete my customs declarations?

If you have been exporting or importing out of the UK and EU beforehand, then you will already be familiar with the challenges of customs paperwork – and duties and VAT. Below the new process you would have to follow. Alternatively, there are a number of outsourced specialists for you to approach for help.

Steps to complete a customs declaration

  1. Apply for your UK and EU EORI numbers. You may require a customs representative to clear the goods.
  2. Apply for access to HMRC’s customs systems (CHIEF and CDS), as well as that of the EU country you are selling to.
  3. Buy commercial software to complete the customs declarations.
  4. Register to import or export goods if they have any restrictions, including excise goods
  5. Set-up a duty deferment account if you don’t import regularly
  6. Arrange for the goods to be inspected?
  7. Prepare and submit the import declaration
  8. Pay VAT and any duties
  9. Get the goods released if they’re at the border

Who can help you complete them instead

  1. Freight forwarders are responsible for moving goods cross-border. This can include completing declarations at UK and EU customs. Tax authorities can provide you with registered forwards.
  2. Customs agent or brokers ensure goods clear through customs and may act as a direct or indirect representative.   This may include lodging import/export customs declarations to Customs (HMRC in the UK) and facilitating the payment of import duties, VAT, excise duty etc. on behalf of importers and exporters.
  3. Fast parcel operators transport parcels and freight internationally within a specific timeframe. This may include customs clearance. A number have been approved by HMRC to move goods under simplified memorandum of understanding.

Explore more content like this in our Brexit hub


Need help with your UK VAT compliance?



Researching UK VAT legislation is the first step to understanding your VAT compliance needs. Avalara has a range of solutions that can help your business depending on where and how you trade. 

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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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