As the uncertainty that surrounds Brexit is well and truly coming to a head, the question that is on a majority of people’s minds is how will importing be affected in the event of a ‘no deal’.
In the event of this, HMRC has put into place Transitional Simplified Procedures or TSP’s for short, designed to streamline the customs process at the UK border as of 29th March 2019 in an effort to mitigate the challenges of importing goods from the EU after Brexit.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK businesses importing from the EU will have to comply with the same customs procedures which currently apply to importing from non-EU countries. A briefing on these new trade requirements after Brexit can be found in our checklist for businesses to assess how ready they are for Brexit.
Currently, under import processes for trading with non EU countries, goods are not released from UK customs control until a full import declaration is made and the duty owed is paid in full. The TSP’s, introduced on 4th February 2019, are intended to speed up import procedures in relation to EU goods at so called “roll on roll off (RORO) locations” like Dover or the Channel Tunnel.
The TSPs are designed to fast track imports of EU goods by reducing the amount of information required for import declaration at the point when the goods are crossing the border. This is done through extending the period in which a business is obliged to give a full customs declaration and pay any applicable duty.
In order to register, businesses need to provide HMRC with their EORI number, a VAT registration number (if available) as well as a UK business address and contact details.
Businesses are able to register online now to use TSPs if they have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification scheme (EORI) number, are established in the UK, and import goods from the EU into the UK (including goods from third countries travelling via the EU provided they have cleared EU customs facilities).
Depending on the type of imported goods, businesses will be required to use either the “controlled goods procedure” or the “standard goods procedure”. The controlled goods procedure requires pre-import paperwork for licensed and excise goods like alcohol and tobacco while the standard procedure only requires customs declaration at the point when the goods cross the UK border.
TSP’s are expected to be available for at least 15 to 18 months following a no deal Brexit. HMRC will initially review the TSP’s between 3 to 6 months after they are introduced on 29 March 2019. If HMRC decides to withdraw them, at least 12 months’ notice will be given. Although it is possible that the TSP’s will continue to be available beyond the 15 to 18 month period, we would strongly advise businesses to become familiar with the process of importing from non EU countries. This may involve appointing a third party to complete customs declarations.