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UK defers Brexit customs declarations and tariffs 6 months

  • Jun 14, 2020 | Richard Asquith

The UK is to not require importers into the UK to produce post-Brexit customs declarations or pay any tariffs between 1 January and 30 June 2021.

The UK will leave the EU Customs Union and Single Market on 31 December 2020 as the Brexit transition period comes to an end. This will restrict the free movement of goods, with the UK and EU27 member states introducing customs and regulatory checks, plus potential tariffs dependant on the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

On 12 June, the UK launched a 6-month soft-landing plan for importers into the UK which will come into force on 31 December 2020 with or without an EU FTA conclusion. This will include a new importer scheme, Customs Freight Simplified Procedures, Entry In Declarants Records (CFSP EIDR). CFSP is an existing electronic customs declaration system for speedy customs clearance. This replaces the proposed HMRC Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP). UK import VAT will also be deferred under the new postponed accounting regime.

The EU has indicated that without a negotiated FTA by 31 December 2020, it will impose full border controls and tariffs based on World Trade Organisation rules. Northern Ireland has separate Brexit goods arrangements with the EU.

UK Border Controls Posts (BCP) on imports from EU July 2021

The UK government has proposed a phased plan for the introduction of border controls on imports of goods from the EU27 to the UK after 2020. This will give affected UK and EU importers time to adapt to the new controls. It will also give the UK time to build and resource a full border control infrastructure, including the new Border Control Posts (BCP).

This will affect goods entering Great Britain (GB) – the UK excluding Northern Ireland since the latter will affectively remain inside the EU Customs Union.

The temporary light-touch CFSP measures will apply both in the event of a no-trade deal or deal scenario. The phased introduction of controls will happen as follows:

  • January 2021: Customs declarations will not have to accompany the imported goods from the EU, and may be deferred for up to six months. Import tariffs, at UK Global Tariff rates, may be deferred too until the submission of the declaration. But full import records must be maintained. The CFSP EIR  easement will be in place until July 2021 (see below). Controlled goods, including alcohol, tobacco and certain chemicals, will require full declarations. Live animal and high-risk plants will require need pre-notification. Controls will be carried out away from the GB border.
  • April 2021: Goods of animal origin (meat, honey or dairy) and regulated plants will require pre-notification and health documentation.
  • July 2021: The freely available CFSP scheme will end (although businesses may apply to remain on it). All goods entering GB from the EU must be accompanied with full declarations and tariffs will be due. This will include full safety and security declarations - sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) on animals etc. All goods will have to enter via a UK BCP. Some of these will be positioned inland, away from congested ports

EU border controls on imports from UK

By contrast, the EU will enforce full customs and regulatory checks on goods being imported from GB with any FTA modifying this.  The EU is bound by the terms its Customs Union and Single Market, and World Trade Organisation Rules, not to offer special terms to a country without a trade agreement.

This asymmetric position will present a challenge for businesses.

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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