New customs and border requirements and procedures apply to most goods imported from or exported to the European Union from 1 January 2022. In this article, we outline the main changes.

The government has set out a staged timetable for introducing border controls for goods moving between the UK and the EU.

Both importers and exporters will need to be familiar with these rules, many of which came into effect on 1 January 2022. 

The situation pre 1 January 2022

The previous requirement was for exporters to complete a full export declaration for goods moving from the UK to the EU. 

Importers to the UK were permitted (under ‘Staged Customs Controls’) to delay import declarations for 175 days for most goods. No prior approval was needed for this, but businesses  were required to retain sufficient records and to make a full declaration within 175 days. The existing import declaration processes could be used for this, ie the same processes was applicable to imports from the rest of the world.

Since 1 January 2021, VAT-registered businesses that import goods into the UK from anywhere in the world could use a system called Postponed VAT Accounting (PVA). This let them account for VAT on their VAT return rather than pay it immediately, for example, at the port of entry. This was to avoid the impact on a business’s cash flow when importing. 

Changes on 1 January 2022

Importers are no longer  able to delay making import declarations under Staged Customs Controls and now need to make these and pay any duties/tariffs at the point of import. Most businesses are likely to appoint a customs broker to complete the declarations on their behalf.

Some businesses already have a ‘Simplified Declarations’ authorisation from HMRC, allowing them to release their goods directly to a specified customs procedure without having to provide a full declaration at the point of release. To use Simplified Declarations, you need to allow 60 calendar days and have a Duty Deferment Account in place (which you can find out more about here).

Border controls

Ports and other border locations are required to control goods moving between GB and the EU. This means they will not be released without a valid declaration and receipt of customs clearance. 

If you use a service such as a courier or freight forwarder to move your goods, you need to check who will make the declarations, and what information they need from you if they are doing it on your behalf.

Rules of origin for imports and exports

Under the EU/UK Trade Cooperation Agreement, some goods imported or exported may benefit from a reduced rate of Customs Duty (tariff preference). To use this, you need proof that the goods you:

  • import from the EU originate there
  • export to the EU originate in the UK

The term ‘originate’ refers to where the goods (or materials, parts or ingredients used to make them) have been produced or manufactured. 

UK and EU importers can claim tariff preference if they have one of the following proofs of origin:

  • a statement on origin made out by the exporter to confirm that the product originates in the UK or EU
  • the importer’s knowledge – this option allows the importer to claim tariff preference based on their own knowledge of where the goods they’re importing originate from

Normal VAT rules apply even if the goods you import are eligible for tariff preference. 

Postponed VAT accounting

VAT-registered importers can still use PVA on all customs declarations that require them to account for import VAT, including supplementary declarations. 

Changes from 1 July 2022

Details of further changes will be released later this year, but these will include:

  • requirements for full safety and security declarations for all imports
  • new requirements for Export Health Certificates
  • requirements for Phytosanitary Certificates
  • physical checks on sanitary and phytosanitary goods at Border Control Posts

You can find out more about the new import and export rules here.

Please contact us if you have any queries regarding the new customs controls.

Warning: The above is merely general guidance and should not be relied upon as formal advice. The advice we give to each client will depend on their specific circumstances. We suggest you take professional advice before taking any action in relation to the issues discussed above.