(Almost) Everything New – What Will Change When Trading With the EU?

Don’t be confused by new rules on customs clearance after Brexit. Keep your goods moving and stay ahead of post-Brexit changes
puzzle with EU and UK flag customs clearance after brexit

Brexit marked the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU on 31st January 2020. And in December the same year, the two sides struck an agreement that allowed trade without tariffs or quotas. But the UK–EU trade is still subjected to customs checks, meaning commerce isn’t as apparent as before the withdrawal.

This article will help you adapt to the new norm and prepare for what the future holds.

What Has Changed for Companies Following Brexit?

The UK’s departure from the EU has brought major operational changes. For instance, there are no customs formalities for items traded between the UK and the EU. 

For customs clearance after brexit, the UK is currently treated as other non-EU countries.

This means that:

  1. You must comply with VAT rules for transactions with Great Britain. 
  2. Traders must file customs declarations when moving goods to/from Great Britain. 
  3. You should have a special license to move certain goods such as GMOs and hazardous chemicals.

Keep in mind that charges now also apply to online shopping. So, always make sure that you read the sales terms and conditions carefully to avoid unwelcome surprises.

What Essential Things Do UK Businesses Need to Know?

large crates being stacked with foreman exporting to europe after brexit

As business personnel in the UK, you need to familiarize yourself with new processes and customs clearance after Brexit. These processes include:

  • Knowing how to classify your goods correctly
  • Being prepared to make custom declarations
  • Following all safety and security requirements for your goods

Additional Paperwork and Courier Fees

If your business often trades with Europe, you need to know the fees and additional paperwork necessary when importing and exporting to Europe after Brexit:

Licenses and certificates— you’ll need a certificate when importing certain goods, for instance, a health certificate for food deliveries.

EORI number— do you move goods between the EU and Great Britain? You must have an EORI number that begins with GB. If you trade with Northern Ireland, your number should start with XI.

Courier fees— most couriers are now charging an additional fee when buying from EU retailers. For instance, Royal Mail is charging £8, and the fees for debit and credit cards are also increasing.

Sending goods through the post— if you’re exporting to Europe after Brexit, you need to fill a customs declaration form to send the goods.

What Should UK Businesses Do Post-Brexit?

There are certain things companies need to put in place to ensure a smooth running business following the exiting of the European Union.

1. Make Information Easily Accessible

With all the new processes and additional documentation you must ensure everyone in your company can access the relevant information quickly and easily. If there isn’t already one in place, create a central portal for business information like policies, forms, quotes, and regulations.

This way you’ll make it easier for your workers to access pertinent information at any time. Additionally, this will save management time and lower administrative burden.

2. Reduce Unnecessary Costs

During economic uncertainty, one of the most important things to do is to control cost. Don’t hesitate to cut any unnecessary expenses. 

A business fleet is among the most expensive outlays in your business, so it’s best to identify any waste and deal with it.

jar of money labelled savings for reducing fleet costs after brexit

Since fuel mostly takes a bigger percentage of your fleet’s total expenditure, about 60%, practices that help reduce its usage significantly impact the bottom line. Bad driving habits, unnecessary idling, and poor route planning all increase fuel usage. 

Fleet managers find it quite challenging to monitor and control each of these aspects alone. With a reliable fleet management system in place you can monitor and manage all these unnecessary cost expenditures. These solutions bring forth improved efficiency and greater visibility.

3. Driver and Vehicle Documentation

Drivers will need new documentation when exporting to Europe after Brexit. That’s why they should strictly adhere to the guidelines as stated by the Department for Transportation (DfT).

With the new Trade Agreements, traders:

  1. Must register their vehicles before driving to or through EU countries
  2. Must travel with vehicle registration documents
  3. Should display a Great Britain sticker even if the car has a GB national sticker
  4. Need a green card as evidence of motor insurance cover

VAT Changes, New Tarrifs, and Rules

If you are importing or exporting to Europe after Brexit, ensure that your suppliers are set up appropriately for UK tax. Under the new laws, sellers are supposed to charge VAT while selling the goods. This is contrary to how things were earlier, where HMRC used to collect tax when importing goods into the country.

The higher the cost of your order, the more tax you’ll pay. If the goods reach £135 then expect a VAT that ranges between 0 and 20%. And for goods over £135 the VAT rate is between 0 to 25%. This does not include the UK VAT that’s usually 20%.

Fortunately, you can pass the VAT charges on to your customers through reverse charge. However, this only applies to goods you’re purchasing in the EU to sell in the UK. To use reverse charge:

  • The EU company should be registered with HMRC
  • You must be VAT registered
  • When buying goods, the EU seller should know your VAT number

New Tariffs on Custom Clearance

Tariff stamp for customs clearance after Brexit

Through the UK-EU TCA, you enjoy zero tariffs and quotas on items moving between the UK and EU. However, those goods must be in line with the Rules of Origin (RoO). These rules determine the economic nationality of goods based on the materials used in the production phase.

To benefit from the zero tariffs, you need to demonstrate the origin of your goods. You must obtain them from the EU and UK or transform them substantially in one or both markets.

How to Classify Goods

To apply the right tariffs, you need to classify the goods correctly and their origin. Remember, incorrect commodity codes during a customs clearance after Brexit means that you’ll be charged the wrong amount of tax.

Although you can classify goods all by yourself, HMRC recommends seeking customs intermediaries’ assistance to ensure it’s done correctly.

What Government Grants Are Available?

The government has set aside £80 million to help businesses get ready for customs clearances after Brexit. Under the Customs Grant Scheme, you can request government grants for staffing, training, and IT improvements.

Furthermore, the government has allocated a £20 million Brexit support fund that small and medium-sized businesses can use. £2,000 grants are available to assist in training or getting advice on customs.

Customs Clearance After Brexit: Closing Thoughts

As you can see, preparing your company for the future in a post-Brexit world is quite challenging due to the ongoing uncertainty. But the good news is some mechanisms can help you make crucial and necessary changes. Investing in a fleet management system is one of the best ways to continue trading with EU businesses flawlessly.

For more key fleet news and assets, visit our Fleet News & Asset page.

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