HMRC has written to VAT registered businesses across the country to remind them to be prepared for new trading rules with the EU from 1 January 2021 after the Brexit transition period comes to an end. Time is running short and without having all of the correct procedures and agreements in place it will be almost impossible to trade with the EU from 1 January 2021, technically from 11pm GMT on 31 December 2020.

One of the most important areas is that businesses must consider how to make customs declarations. Customs declarations can be difficult and time consuming to complete. 

Most businesses use a specialist such as a customs broker, freight forwarder or fast parcel operator to deal with this on their behalf. HMRC’s data suggests that one in three businesses already have a specialist in place, but many more will need to use one.

From 1 January 2021, customs agents will be able to make simplified declarations for you using their own authorisation, so you don’t need to be authorised. They can only do this if:

  • your business is established in the United Kingdom
  • your business imports goods into Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales)
  • the customs agent has the appropriate authorisation

HMRC’s guidance is clear that if your goods do not have the right paperwork, or if information is incorrect or missing, your goods may be seized and you will face delays and may have to pay extra charges. 

If you are moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the free Trader Support Service can help guide you through new processes. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, all Northern Ireland businesses will continue to have unfettered access to the whole UK market.