Although the UK Government has recently announced that certain border requirements are being postponed until the middle of next year, it is currently sticking to its plans to require full customs declarations on goods imported from the EU as of 1 January 2022. This change has the potential to disrupt UK supply chains. We explain below what is changing and what you can do to prepare.
What is changing?
At present, as a temporary measure, most goods imported from the EU are allowed to enter the UK without providing full customs paperwork "upfront" (as is currently required for goods entering the UK from non-EU countries). Instead, most businesses can make customs declarations and pay any applicable tariffs "in arrears" (within 6 months of the point of import). Similarly, import VAT does not have to be paid at the point of import; it can be paid at a later date, by using postponed VAT accounting (in the case of VAT-registered businesses).
But from 1 January 2022, customs declarations will be required "upfront" and any applicable tariffs must be paid "upfront" as well (although VAT-registered businesses will still be able to use postponed VAT accounting to avoid having to pay Import VAT at this stage). There is also likely to be a higher level of physical checks (currently these are limited to "high risk live animals and plants"). The postponement announced by the UK Government only relates to the following measures, most of which are relevant to agri-food imports only:
- There is effectively an additional grace period to comply with requirements for Safety and Security declarations (for all types of goods), export health certificates (for products of animal origin) and phytosanitary certificates (for products of plant origin) – these will not now be introduced until 1 July 2022.
- An equivalent grace period will apply in relation to the requirement for all agri-food products to undergo physical checks at Border Control Posts – so this too will not apply until 1 July 2022.
- Finally, the requirement for pre-notification of agri-food imports – originally planned for 1 October 2021 – is being postponed until 1 January 2022.
This follows the postponement of the requirement for all relevant products to be labelled with the new UK CA safety mark instead of the EU CE mark (originally scheduled for 1 January 2022 for most products); that has now been delayed until 1 January 2023.