The UK has left the EU. There will be a transition period from the 1st February to 31 December 2020 for business, trade and travel. During the transition period, the current rules for moving goods into and out of the EU will still apply. These rules will change after the 1 January 2021 but there are some preparations that you can make now.
If your business wishes to move goods into and out of the EU after the 1 January 2021, you will need to make customs declarations. The first thing you will need is a 12 digit EORI (Economic Operator Registration & Identification) number, which you can apply for online. If you do not have the EORI by the 1 January 2021 you may incur costs and delays. This is because HMRC may not be able to clear your goods and will consequently charge you storage fees. Before you apply online, some of the following information may be required:
- VAT number (if you’re registered)
- National Insurance number if you’re a sole trader
- Unique Tax Reference number (UTR)
- Business start date & Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code
- Government gateway ID and password
How do you get some help with moving goods into and out of the EU?
You can hire a business or person to help with customs on your behalf. This could be a freight forwarder, fast parcel operator or customs agent. Freight forwarders help import goods all over the world and because of this they will arrange clearing your goods through customs. They will have software that communicates with HMRC’s systems. You can find lots of information about them, from the British International Freight Association www.bifa.org/home and the Institute of Export and International Trade www.export.org.uk. Fast parcel operators can deal with customs for you as part of their delivery. They transport documents and parcels across the world in a specific time frame and more information can be found on the gov.uk website. A customs agent will clear your goods through customs and can operate in a direct or indirect capacity. More information on this is also available on the gov.uk website.
Finally, the UK is still in negotiations with the EU to complete a deal. Keep an eye on this post during the year for updates that may affect your business.