Importing goods from the EU to the UK


The new UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement entered into force on January 1, 2021, permanently changing UK imports – with new processes in customs, administration and border controls . Businesses need to adapt to keep their operations running smoothly.

On this page, the CBI has compiled current government information for your convenience – we monitor this page regularly, so keep an eye out for updates.

Key challenges for businesses

How have the rules changed?

Zero tariffs and quotas on goods

The UK and the EU have agreed to zero-tariff, zero-quota trade on goods, meaning businesses won’t face costly tariffs.

However, to benefit from duty-free access, companies must meet the requirements of the rules of origin (detailed below), ensuring that these products meet the criteria for “local” qualification.

Customs and trade facilitation

The government introduced a new phased approach which took effect on January 1, 2021 – here are the updated timelines:

January 2022:

  • The possibility for companies to use deferred declarations for up to 6 months after the importation of the goods ends and full customs declarations and controls will be put in place
  • Prior notification requirements for products of animal origin (POAO), certain animal by-products (PBA) and high-risk foods of non-animal origin (HRFNAO) Importers must hold declarations from a supplier at the time of they issue a declaration on the rules of origin

July 2022:

  • Safety and security declarations will be due for companies importing goods from the EU, as they are currently for goods imported from outside the EU
  • SPS checks at border control posts will be introduced for HRFNAO and ABP goods for which an export health certificate will be required

After that, the trading conditions will default to UK-EU TCA:

  • Customs declarations and documents required for companies to process the movement of goods
  • Mutual recognition of authorized economic operator – safety and security regime, allowing simplified customs procedures for registered traders
  • SPS border controls for live animals and POAO – with additional fees for food traders.

Rules of Origin

Access to zero tariffs and quotas depends on the qualification of “local” by the rules of origin of the United Kingdom-EU agreement:

  • Companies must identify the full origin of their goods and provide additional documents.

However, the EU and the UK have jointly agreed on additional flexibility in the following ways:

  • UK phased rollout means full declarations for goods outside the Controlled List do not need to be made for the first six months
  • Until December 31, 2021, companies do not need supplier declarations when exporting goods (but companies may be required to provide a supplier declaration retrospectively after this date.

Find out more

Read the whole Rules of Origin

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