Brexit update: where do we stand now?

For companies that do business with the UK, a number of changes will probably occur on 29 March 2019. So close to the deadline and it is still unclear whether we are dealing with a ‘hard’ Brexit where the UK will immediately leave the customs union or that there will be another variant. As a best preparation we now start with that hard Brexit; then it can only be better.

Read the most important points here

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC or the UK tax, payment and customs authority) has written several articles on this subject, the most important points of which are summarised below. Also from a European point of view you can find useful tips and checklists in this article.

In short: what happens technically with a hard Brexit?

In that case, many companies in the UK would have to apply the same procedures to trade with the European Union as they do to trade with the rest of the world. This means that imported goods are not released by customs until an import declaration has been made and any duties owed have been paid. European Union companies exporting to the UK (or importing products from the UK) also have to take into account various more stringent regulations and procedures.

"Figures from Dutch Customs show that some 35,000 Dutch companies do business with the United Kingdom, and do not import or export outside the European Union. Customs and customs formalities are therefore unfamiliar territory for them".

Source: Customs

According to the European Commission's Customs Guide, this means, among other things:

  • customs formalities will apply, export and import declarations will have to be submitted
  • veterinary and other product controls may apply
  • customs duties will have to be paid on goods entering the EU from the UK
  • VAT on imports from the UK must be paid on entry into the EU (this can be transferred to the importer's records by means of a 'licence under Article 23')
  • there may be prohibitions or restrictions on certain goods entering the EU from the UK which may require import or export licences
  • the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) authorisations issued by the United Kingdom will no longer be valid in the EU (EU27)
  • the rules for the declaration and payment of VAT (for supplies of services such as electronic services) and for cross-border VAT refunds will change
  • an export declaration will be required for the transfer of goods to the United Kingdom
  • the movement of excise goods to the United Kingdom may require an electronic administrative document (e-AD)
  • for excise goods moving from the United Kingdom to the EU (EU27), customs formalities must be completed before a movement under the Excise Movement Control System (EMCS) can start.

What will be the biggest Brexit challenge?

Dutch industrial companies expect a hard Brexit to cause major delays at the border, more complex procedures and red tape.

What is the British government doing about these challenges?

HMRC has introduced simplified transitional procedures to make it easier for UK companies to import goods from the EU via locations such as Dover or the Channel Tunnel. British companies that already trade outside the EU and have a customs agent or software can use these to make declarations on trade between the EU and the UK. Other companies will need to actively appoint an agent or make their own declarations.

And the rest of the European Union (including the Netherlands)?

In the Netherlands, the Tax and Customs Administration has actively informed well-known entrepreneurs who do business with the UK of a number of areas of attention, such as the aforementioned licence pursuant to Section 23 of the WOB.

Roadmap for Dutch companies: what is needed?

To help Dutch companies, several websites write step-by-step plans and things you need to arrange for the Brexit. Below are the most important points of the websites www.Hulpbijbrexit.nlthe Dutch Customs and in particular for transport via the Dutch ports the site in a row:

  • Step 1: Is it necessary?
    Check whether your company trades with the UK or transports goods via the UK. If the answer is yes, check whether your company is ready to continue trading with the UK in terms of staff, technical capacity and customs permits. For example, contact your suppliers and carriers because the Brexit may also have an impact on your supply chain.
  • Step 2: make your company known to Customs
    Don't have a relationship or experience with Customs yet? Then request an EORI number as soon as possible. Every company in Europe that exports or imports needs such a unique identification number. Even if you leave your import and/or export declarations to a forwarding agent or customs agent. You will find the contact details of the national customs authorities in this list.
  • Step 3: determine who makes the import or export declarations
    As an importer or exporter, it is important that you decide whether you want to make your own import and/or export declarations to Customs, or whether you want to use a forwarding agent or customs agent. If you already make declarations yourself, now is a good time to check whether additional Customs regulations or licences apply to you. Think, for example, of simplifications for placing goods under a customs procedure.

    Do you trade in goods that may be subject to inspection? Then ask for information yourself or via your customs agent and, where necessary, arrange the correct certificates with the NVWA and the ILT.
  • Step 4: Agree who will handle the customs documents and the aforementioned.
    After the Brexit, the pre-notification of customs documents at all Dutch ferry terminals and the majority of short sea terminals is mandatory. This can be done by the importer/exporter, but also the forwarder, customs agent or occasionally the carrier. It is very important to arrange this well in advance, because without pre-notification the carrier will not have access to the terminal. And that causes delays! Take a look at the site for more information.
  • Step 5: check in advance whether the terminal has the customs document
    Only digitally pre-registered cargo can enter and exit the terminal, otherwise the container or trailer will come to a standstill here. For this reason, always check the customs status at the terminal in advance, or have it done by your forwarder or agent. No transport without a pre-notified document, which results in delays.


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