From 1 January 2021 the way we trade with EU countries will significantly change. The decision to leave the Single Market and Customs Union means that if you buy from, or sell to EU businesses you will need to follow new Customs rules or you won’t be able to trade.

This will happen regardless of the outcome of any negotiations with the EU and whether or not the government is able to secure a Free Trade Agreement, so you need to be prepared and aware of the changes.

What do traders need to do to move goods between GB and the EU?

Companies need to understand both GB and EU Member State requirements and should take action now to be ready for the new customs procedures.

If you want to continue to carry on trading with the EU you will need to;

  • Have an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number
  • Ensure you have the correct paperwork ready and in place (Commercial Invoice)
  • Decide how you will submit Customs Declarations
  • Obtain a Duty Deferment Account from HMRC
  • Apply for any Customs Authorisations
  • Speak to your EU partners to ensure they are also getting prepared

If trading goods such as plants, live animals or products of animal origin, traders must also take into account specific new requirements such as completing Export Health Certificates.

Commercial Invoice Information

To ensure you have the necessary information available to complete Customs Declarations, it is recommended that your commercial invoices contain the following details;

  • Name and full address of the Buyer and the Seller
  • EORI / VAT numbers if available
  • Invoice Number and Date
  • Full description of the goods including Customs Tariff/Commodity Codes
  • Invoice value of the goods and currency
  • Terms of shipment (Incoterms)
  • Number of pieces
  • Gross Weight
  • Net Weight

Click here to find out how XPand Customs Brokers Services can assist you with your Customs Declarations.



Standard and Controlled Goods

There are 2 types of goods, Standard or Controlled goods;

  1. Standard goods are those that are not controlled which covers around 90% of goods. This would include items such as Clothes, Books, Furniture, Electronics, Cups and Plates, etc
  2. Controlled goods are things like Alcohol, Tobacco, Medical Drugs, Chemicals, Explosives, etc

When will full export controls come into force?

Customs Export Full Declarations and Safety and Security Declarations will be required for all goods from 1st January 2021.

When will full import controls come into force?

The UK is taking a staged approach in the introduction of controls starting 1 January 2021 to the end of June, with the full regime in place by 1 July 2021. The three stages are:

  • From January 2021: Traders importing standard goods will need to prepare for basic customs requirements, such as keeping sufficient records of imported goods. Traders will also need to consider how they account for and pay VAT on imported goods. Traders will then have up to 6 months to complete Customs Declarations. While tariffs will be payable where due on relevant goods, payments can be deferred until the customs declaration has been made. For controlled goods, traders must submit a full Customs Declaration straight away (or use Simplified Customs Declaration procedures if they are authorised to do so). They must use the customs process currently applicable at the location that they are using to move their goods and ensure that any specific licencing requirements are fulfilled. There will also be physical checks at the point of destination or other approved premises on all high-risk live animals and plants and a requirement to obtain the relevant documentation and pre-notify for certain movements, but they will not be required to enter GB via a Border Control Post (BCP). UK Safety and Security (S&S) declarations will not be required on imports for the first 6 months.
  • From April 2021: All products of animal origin (POAO) – for example meat, pet food, honey, milk or egg products – and all regulated plants and plant products will also require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation. Any physical checks
    will continue to be conducted at the point of destination until July 2021.
  • From July 2021: Traders moving all goods will have to make Customs Declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant Duties and VAT. Full Safety and Security declarations will be required.

EORI – Economic Operators Registration Identifier

You must have an EORI number to move goods between the UK and all countries including EU countries from 1st January 2021. This is mandatory.If you do not have an EORI, you may have increased costs and delays. If you do not yet have an EORI you can apply here.

Customs Duties

From 1st January 2021, Customs Duties for goods imported from the EU will become liable under the new UK Global Tariff. A list of Duty Rates applicable can be found at the following GOV.UK website.

Customs VAT & Postponed Accounting

Customs VAT will be liable on imports of goods from the EU in the same way it is currently applied to third country imports. However, VAT registered importers will be able to use postponed VAT accounting method if they choose, meaning that VAT is not physically paid upon Importation, but instead accounted for on VAT returns.

Non-VAT registered importers cannot use postponed accounting methods so have the same options available to report and pay import VAT as they normally do for customs Duties.



Standard Customs Declarations

A full Customs Declaration can be completed at the time of Import or Export and this takes care of all the formalities at once and once the shipment has cleared, nothing further is needed.

CFSP – Customs Freight Simplified Procedures

This is also known as Simplified Declarations for Imports. Companies can obtain authorisation from HMRC to use CFSP which can offer benefits. Anyone wanting to use this must have a good compliance record with HMRC and have fully auditable systems and processes. Further information can be found here.

XPand Offers Standard and Electronic Clearance Options

Please contact your local XPand office for pricing and more information about how XPand Customs Broker Services can assist you with your Customs Declarations.


Process for arranging an export customs clearance to the EU