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Businesses that trade with the EU now have to complete additional paperwork as part of the post-Brexit trade agreement. While checks for exports started last year, full customs checks for goods arriving from the EU only came into force on 1 January 2022.
From pre-submitting customs declarations to following the rules of origin, make sure you understand these important regulations to avoid fines and delays for your business.
Last year full customs checks only applied to exports from the UK to the EU, while similar checks were essentially waived for imports to give businesses more time to prepare.
Now if you import from the EU, the full customs rules apply (excluding trade with the island of Ireland, where separate negotiations are still taking place).
So, what does this mean for small businesses?
For UK businesses, there are certain regulations if you’re importing goods from the EU:
Previously HMRC allowed a 175-day delay for companies submitting customs declarations. Now checks and forms must be completed at least four hours before the goods enter the UK.
To qualify for tariff-free entry, your goods must meet rules of origin arrangements (we explain more on this below). You’ll need a supplier’s declaration and proof of origin to claim these preferential duty rates (0 per cent).
Read the government's step-by-step guide to importing goods to the UK from any country and find out how much tax and duty you’ll need to pay, and whether you need any certificates.
It’s possible to get a long-term suppliers’ declaration if you regularly import goods with the same country of origin, which could save you time and admin. Read more about how to claim preferential duty rates on the UK government website.
As with imports, you’ll need a suppliers’ declaration to prove the origin of your goods and to benefit from the reduced customs duty.
HMRC has said that failure to provide the declaration can result in penalties or being barred from benefiting from the preferential tariffs in future.
To take the pressure off, you may want to hire someone to deal with customs for you.
Rules of origin are designed to help you work out where your goods originate from, based on how much they've been worked on or manufactured in a particular country.
In terms of rules of origin for goods after Brexit, this helps you determine which goods are covered in the UK’s trade agreement with the EU. The goods must meet a level of processing in the country of export to benefit from zero customs duties.
Products that don’t meet the rules of origin can still be traded, you’ll just need to pay a different tariff.
The government has laid out a timetable for phasing in further border controls for imports across the rest of this year.
Further checks on imports are set to be introduced from 1 July, including:
The introduction of sanitary and phytosanitary checks on imports of animal and plant products will be phased in from the summer:
And you'll need the following certificates:
The government hopes this timeline will give small businesses more time to prepare for the extra customs checks and border controls as they come in throughout 2022.
Do you trade with the EU? How is your business managing with the extra checks and paperwork? Let us know in the comments and complete our quick poll below.
Photograph 1: harlequin9/stock.adobe.com
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Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.
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