How can businesses prepare to import from the EU after Brexit?

Zoe Bagnall
Content and PR Executive | Business West
18th November 2020

The rules and regulations surrounding goods being imported from the EU to the UK will change on 1st January 2021, at the end of the Brexit transition period. 

A big change, and one of the few certainties businesses can prepare for right now, is the completion of customs declarations.

Check the rules 

From 1st January 2021, the rules around importing some goods will change. You’ll need to get a license or certificate in certain circumstances such as when importing animals or animal products into Great Britain. More information can be found here

You also need to be aware of the requirements for product markings and labelling. There is a wealth of information on the website

You must ensure that you have an EORI number when moving goods between Great Britain and the EU. If you have not already received one, you can start the application process here

More considerations for importers

There are different options you can take when importing goods from the EU into Britain. These are:

  • Importing goods through Simplified Declarations. This allows you to keep records of the goods but delay submitting a full customs declaration for six months after import.
  • You can import goods through standard import procedures
  • For some controlled goods, you can use the Simplified Declaration procedure. 
  • If you are moving goods through multiple territories, you may wish to consider using Transit. 

More information on the different options can be found here. You can check if you are able to delay your declarations here.

While there are still uncertainties about what exactly the end of the transition period will look like, one thing which is certain is that is that on January 1st the UK is leaving the EU Customs Union. Alongside this will come the need for customs declarations and new rules and regulations that businesses must prepare for to avoid delays at the border. 

Get your customs declarations prepared now

It is important for businesses who have not already planned how they are going to complete customs declarations to do so without delay.

The National Audit Office has estimated that customs declarations will increase from the current volume of 55 million up to 255 million in the new year. While there is still capacity at Business West to onboard new clients before January 1st, firms are strongly urged to prepare now in the event of capacity running out over the next month. 

Business West’s ChamberCustoms service will allow importers to complete their declarations without error, ensuring that delays and extra costs are avoided at the border. We can offer a high level of compliance and assurance for companies and our experience in international trade will ensure any queries are resolved efficiently.  

We are also running customs declaration training if you would prefer to complete them yourself. However, most businesses use a broker or agent for added reassurance. 

Matt Pullin, Managing Director of Mec-Serv, an underfloor heating company based in Bristol, received support from Business West’s international trade services team recently. Commenting on his experience, he said:

“You hear a lot about exporting to the EU after Brexit, but less about importing. Our company was keen to find out about the changes to customs declarations procedures on 1st January and wanted to receive advice from a trusted source. 

“Catherine Stephens and her team were hugely helpful in enabling us to get signed up to the ChamberCustoms service so that the materials we import from Portugal, Poland and Sweden can continue with the least interruption possible. 

“I would suggest to any companies who have not yet organised for an intermediary to help, to do so as soon as possible. Whilst the process was very smooth and we were onboarded quickly, there are still discussions to be had that take up time, so don’t delay.” 

We have also produced a guide to help you understand how to import from the EU after Brexit and to keep abreast of Brexit announcements, visit our dedicated Trading Through Brexit Hub.  

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  • Importing to the EU?

    Trading rules between the EU and UK will change from 1st January 2021. We've put together a step-by-step guide for businesses to get prepared for the changes Brexit will bring.

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    From 1st January 2021, you will need to submit Customs Declarations when you trade with any country outside of the UK. ChamberCustoms delivers a Customs Declarations service for UK importers and exporters. Avoid delays. Avoid costly mistakes. Get prepared.