As Brexit has now happened, I'm sure you are concerned about the UK’s future terms of trade with the rest of the world.
As a member of the EU, the UK benefited from free movement of goods between EU countries. This meant that when you imported into the UK from another EU member state, there were zero import duties, taxes, or customs clearance.
Post-Brexit, that's changed - you will need to clear your goods with customs, provide a commercial invoice, and pay import duties.
Yet the EU remains by far our largest trading partner. In 2018, 54.6% of all UK imports came from the EU, while 48.9% of exports went to the EU.
The post-Brexit future is likely to have serious consequences, both good and bad, for your business.
Here is what you need to do now to make sure you're able to receive goods from the EU after Brexit.
What to Do If You Import Goods from the EU
Ensure that your business has an EORI number that starts with GB
You’ll need an EU EORI number if your business will be making customs declarations or getting a customs decision in the EU. If you use a post or parcel company to move goods, ask them if you need an EORI number. You can apply here for an EORI number. If you already have a number that starts with GB, you can continue to use it (It will be 12 digits long).
Decide who will make the import declarations
You can hire a person or business to deal with customs for you, including:
Customs agents or brokers
Fast parcel operators
Apply to make importing easier
You can apply for Simplified Import (also known as 'transitional simplified procedures') to reduce the amount of information you need to give at the border. Basically, your business can defer full import declarations until a later date. You can register here for Simplified Import.
You may also be able to use the Common Transit Convention (CTC) to simplify how your goods pass through customs and when you pay customs duties. Find out if you can use CTC.
Set up a duty deferment account if you import regularly
If you want to be able to make one convenient monthly customs payment instead of paying for individual shipments, do create a duty deferment account.
Check the rate of tax and duty you’ll need to pay
Temporary tariff rates will be in place for up to 12 months after January. Depending on where your imports come from, you'll pay a preferential rate or a non-preferential rate, (also called a ‘Most Favoured Nation’ rate).
Don't forget that you'll also need to pay excise duties if you’re importing alcohol, tobacco, or biofuels.
Check what you need to do for the types of goods you import
You may need to pay an inspection fee for some goods before they’re allowed into the UK. This is especially relevant to you if you import animals, plants, food, and agricultural products, medicine, tissue and cells, waste or chemical products.
Keep in mind that you can use Simplified Import (transitional simplified procedures) to import excise goods. This means you’ll be able to transport your goods into the UK without having to make a full customs declaration in advance.
Don't worry, these changes don't kick off immediately. An 11-month transition period, during which goods move freely between the UK and the EU, runs until December 31st 2020.
If you're not an importer from the EU, check out our guide to being Brexit-ready if you export goods to the EU.
Contact the government Imports and Exports helpline for further information and support. The number is 0300 3301 331, and lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.