The Brexit transition period is due to end 31 December 2020. The UK and EU have agreed there will not be any further extensions, although with the COVID-19 outbreak nothing appears certain. As things currently stand, no formal trade deal has been reached with the EU. Consequently, it seems likely that the process for exporting goods to the EU will change from 1 January 2021.
Current guidance published by HMRC states that from 1 January 2021, businesses will need to make customs declarations when exporting goods to the EU. These rules currently apply to exporting goods to the rest of the world, including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Businesses, especially those that only trade with EU, should be making the necessary preparations for how they will trade with the EU next year. Businesses can make customs declarations themselves or hire a third-party such as a courier, freight forwarder or customs agent.
Some important points to bear in mind are as follows:
- Make sure you have an EORI number that starts with GB. You will need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number starting with GB to import/export goods from 1 January 2021.
- Check the rules for your type of goods. For example, check what import/export licences or certificates you need, check the labelling and marketing standards for food, plant seeds and manufactured goods and check the rules for importing/exporting alcohol, tobacco and certain oils.
- Find out if you can charge VAT at 0% on goods exported to the EU.
- There are likely to be different rules if you are exporting goods from Northern Ireland to Ireland.