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Businesses should take action now ahead of new border controls being introduced next year

Businesses have been advised to take action now to make sure they are ready when new border controls are introduced from January 1, 2021, for goods moving from the UK to the EU.

The new border controls will be introduced in three stages up until July 1, 2021, with the first tranche will take effect in January next year.

The stages are:

  • From January 2021- traders importing standard goods, covering everything from clothes to electronics, 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 six 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. UK Safety and Security declarations will not be required on imports for the first six months. Standard customs declarations will be needed from this date for controlled goods and excise goods like alcohol and tobacco products. 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 pre-notify for certain movements, but they will not be required to enter GB via a Border Control Post (BCP). Export declarations and UK exit Safety and Security declarations will be required for all goods. Traders importing and exporting goods using the Common Transit Convention will need to follow all of the transit procedures – these will not be introduced in stages. The goods vehicle movement service (GVMS) will be introduced from January only for transit movements.
  • From April 2021 – all products of animal origin (POAO) – for example, meat, honey, milk or egg products – and all regulated plants and plant products will 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 any goods will have to make full customs declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant tariffs. Full Safety and Security declarations will be required, while for commodities subject to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls, these will have to be presented to BCPs and there will be an increase in physical checks and the taking of samples. SPS checks for animals, plants and their products will take place at GB Border Control Posts and not at destination. The GVMS will be in place for all imports, exports and transit movements at border locations which have chosen to introduce it.

BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said: “With full border controls in place at all ports from January 1st next year, regardless of any deal that is agreed with the EU, and an estimated 200 million more declarations needed to be made by traders annually, firms that import and export to the EU should take action now and prioritise the appointment of customs intermediaries to advise on the next steps.

“It is pleasing to see the Government listening to the Chamber network and reintroducing Postponed VAT Accounting, as well as allowing the deferment of duty and VAT on EU imports for at least six months from January 2020. And many businesses will appreciate the introduction of bond-free duty deferment accounts, which will provide much needed help to cashflow for businesses and reduce import costs.

“While businesses will welcome more detail on processes for trading goods overseas, some questions still remain unanswered, including on trade across the Northern Ireland border and the operation of the Goods Vehicle Management System. We will continue to look at the detail and how it affects businesses over the coming weeks.”

The Government’s full border controls document can be found online here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-border-operating-model

Traders can check duties and customs procedures for exporting goods online at: https://www.gov.uk/check-duties-customs-exporting

A step-by-step guide to importing is available here: https://www.gov.uk/prepare-to-import-to-great-britain-from-january-2021

And a step-by-step guide to exporting here: https://www.gov.uk/prepare-to-export-from-great-britain-from-january-2021

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