VATLive > Blog > European News > UK HMRC - £13bn customs costs for Brexit

UK HMRC - £13bn custom costs for no-deal Brexit

  • Feb 11, 2019 | Richard Asquith

HMRC has estimated that 245,000 businesses will have to start completing import documentation for the first time after a no-deal Brexit, costing them £6.5bn in administrative costs. EU importers into the UK will have to also meet a £6.5bn burden in declarations costs - making a total of £13bn.

The value of import tariffs on post-Brexit imports from the rest of Europe is estimated at £15bn per annum, based the UK’s current levels of trade and WTO Most Favoured Nation tariff rules.

A policy of unilateral tariff removal would deliver an popular instant cut in consumer prices. Although a post-Brexit from in sterling may wipe much of this gain out. Import tariff cuts could also overwhelm sensitive UK industries such as meat production with cheap imports. What is more likely is that the government cherry-picks tariff cuts for goods with little UK domestic industry. 

It is not just imports that will be hit by a no-deal Brexit. UK exporters to the EU will face an estimated £7bn in annual tariff charges on their sales. The administrative costs of the new declarations imposed by the EU will be an estimated £8bn per year. Any attempt to cut tariffs will also risk a backlash from developing nations which currently benefit from the tariff preference scheme for their exports to the UK. This advantage would be wiped out by a unilateral cut in UK tariffs.


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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 can be contacted at: richard.asquith@avalara.com. 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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