From January 1st, the UK and EU will begin a new trading relationship. Brexit means new rules for the movement of goods, and all businesses involved in imports and exports should be aware of their new administrative responsibilities.
One of the first things UK businesses will need is an EORI number. EORI stands for Economic Operators Registration and Identification. Companies trading with Non-EU countries will already have an EORI number, but from January 1st, all businesses trading with the EU will also need one. Without an EORI number, your business may see increased costs and delays when moving goods.
You can apply for an EORI number by going to the government’s EORI web page, at https://www.gov.uk/eori.
From January 1st, many businesses operating internationally will also need to file customs declarations when trading goods and services through UK and EU borders.
If you import goods from outside of the EU, you’ll be familiar with customs declarations forms. From January, all imports from European Union nations will also require declarations.
Most hauliers, freight forwarders and customs agents can handle these forms for you, or you can fill out the forms yourself: see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/customs-declarations-for-goods-brought-into-the-eu. Be prepared, as incorrect forms can cause delays and, in some cases, financial penalties.
In addition to declarations, UK businesses may also need to pay additional tariffs when importing EU goods.
Although the UK EU Free Trade Agreement, announced on December 24th, will mean that some tariffs are eliminated in key sectors, others will begin to apply from January 1st. The UK Government has a useful tool on its website to help find out if tariffs will apply to the goods you’re importing – go to https://www.gov.uk/look-up-import-tariffs-1-january-2021.
The UK Government has also announced plans to allow some businesses to defer customs declarations for 6 months, in order to streamline the process.
Trade organisations, like the Road Haulage Association, have warned that delays at UK ports are likely, due to increased checks and enforcement of customs regulations. Deferring declarations could be used to ease the administrative workload in the short term. See https://www.gov.uk/guidance/declaring-goods-brought-into-great-britain-from-the-eu-from-1-january-2021.
With the newly announced Free Trade Agreement being implemented, and changes likely in the short and long term, it’s important for businesses which import products from the European Union to understand how these changes will affect them and their responsibilities. You may find you need to factor in additional time and costs related to shipping, forms and tariffs.
You may also need to invest in expert international trade support. If you’re in doubt, the UK’s Department for International Trade has a website which contains regular updates and detailed information on regulations – see https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-trade. You can also contact your local Chamber of Commerce, many of which offer training, workshops and advice on import and export related matters.
Stay up to date and make sure you consult with experts when you need to. In international trade, fines and penalties for simple mistakes can add an extra financial burden to your business. Getting it right first time is not just important from a regulatory perspective, it can also be the key to protecting your ongoing budgets and plans.