Import

The UK has said it intends to treat imports from the EU on the same basis as imports from the rest of the world, subject to an initial phasing in of new requirements over the first six months as set out below:

  • From January 2021, only basic record keeping will be required, with formal customs declarations and any tariff payments able to be deferred for six months
  • From April 2021, pre-notification and health certificates will be required for dairy products
  • From July 2021, full standard procedures will apply, including checks on all food products at designated border inspection posts.

A summary of the main requirements and an initial check list can be found at Prepare to Import into Great Britain. Imports into Northern Ireland from the EU will remain unchanged, though imports into Northern Ireland from the rest of the world will be subject to the main UK procedures.

Importing

  1. Check that you have an EORI number. If not; please contact HMRC
  2. Check your commodity/tariff codes
  3. If eligible, register for Simplified Procedures
  4. Check processes for imports of high risk goods
  5. Decide if you will use a customs agent or related service

For further information please refer to the FDF guide:
fdf.org.uk/publicgeneral/five-essential-step-importing-from-the-EU.pdf

UK Government has issued guidance to businesses importing plants and plant products from the EU and third countries: gov.uk/guidance/importing-and-exporting-plants-and-plant-products-if-theres-no-withdrawal-deal

After the UK leaves the EU, plants and plant products (for example, vegetables, seeds and fruit) that are currently managed under the EU plant passport scheme will be subject to UK import controls. There is a new process that businesses must follow for which details can be found here: gov.uk/guidance/importing-and-exporting-plants-and-plant-products-if-theres-no-withdrawal-deal

Further information on plant passports can be found here: gov.uk/guidance/issuing-plant-passports-to-trade-plants-in-the-eu

UK Government has issued guidance to businesses on importing animals and products of animal origin from the EU and third countries: gov.uk/government/collections/guidance-on-importing-and-exporting-live-animals-or-animal-products

Check the port you use has the correct authorisation and identify the EU Border Inspection Posts (BIPs) you may need to use when exporting certain products especially those of animal origin.

Outbound livestock and animal products from the UK into EU 27 will have to pass through a designated Border Inspection Post (BIP) at the point of entry. You can’t just turn up at a BIP; every consignment has to be booked in advance. For cross-Channel shipments, there are BIPs at Dunquerque, le Havre and Caen, but current throughput at the Dunquerque BIP is already at two thirds total capacity.

Ports such as Rotterdam and Calais have made significant preparations for a no-deal Brexit. Importantly, Calais is launching a ‘smart border’ scheme that will prevent delays using a combination of pre-clearance of goods, number plate recognition and away-from-the-border checks.

UK guidance to French customs in the event of a no-deal Brexit can be found here. French Guidance (in english) can be downloaded here.

Yes, in the event of no deal, processes at the border will change and new duties will be applied. It is important to understand who would be legally liable for these charges. To establish this, refer to the Incoterms within your contracts.

If you are not satisfied, you would then need to consider renegotiating your contracts: 
iccwbo.org/resources-for-business/incoterms-rules/incoterms-rules-2010

There is a further issue concerning the General Data Protection Regulations GDPR which the UK government plan to incorporate into UK law post Brexit.  There is more information and recommendations in the GDPR question however it is important that your contracts contain a section on GDPR. 

For non European customers it is believed that there will be little change.  For more details please check here.  https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-and-brexit/data-protection-and-brexit-for-small-organisations/uk-businesses-and-organisations-who-send-or-receive-data-to-or-from-countries-outside-europe/

In the vast majority of cases this is best done by putting in place a contract between you and the sender on EU approved terms known as standard contractual clauses (SCC). If the UK leaves the EU without a deal you need to put the contract in place before that date.  Here is a tool to help you find which SCC’s you need to use. Keep data flowing from the EEA to the UK – interactive tool

More information is available from the ICO website Data protection and no-deal Brexit for small businesses and organisations

The Rules of Origin laws determine the “economic nationality” of traded goods and their components.  Trade agreements can include preferential tariffs for goods of a certain origin. In days where businesses used locally produced raw materials, establishing and proving the origin of a product was fairly straightforward, but has become more complex as both raw materials and processed parts and ingredients are traded around the world.  In its trade agreements, The European Union usually has some of the most demanding Rules of Origin for agrifood goods.

Further information is available at wto.org/english/tratop_e/roi_e/roi_e.htm

Once the UK leaves the EU, unless it remains part of a Customs Union which includes agrifood products, exports from the UK will be subject to tariffs if there is no future trade agreement (i.e. trading on ‘WTO terms’).  If there is a trade agreement, reduced tariffs will apply only to goods which satisfy the agreed Rules of Origin.  Taking the EU-Canada agreement as a model, that could for example mean that goods made with flour milled in the UK would have to pay a full tariff, if any USA wheat had been used in making the flour.  Similar restrictions would apply in relation to goods containing sugar, dairy products, cereals, meat etc.  

A fuller explanation of this, and suggestions of how the problem might be addressed in UK-EU negotiations, are set out in a report commissioned by UK food sector organisations, which can be found here: fdf.org.uk/rulesoforigin-eu-uk-fta.aspx

That is difficult to estimate. It would depend on many factors including the state of relationships after Brexit and the type of trade deal sought by the UK.

Purpose built trade deals usually take several years to negotiate and ratify. For instance, the deal between the EU and Canada took five years, however conversations began in 2009. However, the EU and UK have previously been trading without barriers, making it a different start point to any previous trade negotiations.

Yes, provided you supply the goods into Ireland. If your customer takes ownership of the goods in the UK and then moves them on to Ireland, dealing with customs would be their responsibility.

The UK will become a ‘third country’ for EU VAT purposes, subject to the same rules that rest of the world countries are now. The changes this would bring are summarised in this document: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/value-added-tax_en.pdf

For buying goods from the EU, the summary of changes from the UK government is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-for-businesses-if-theres-no-brexit-deal/vat-for-businesses-if-theres-no-brexit-deal

This includes a system of postponed accounting so that companies can account for import VAT on their regular VAT returns rather than at the point of importing. If in doubt, seek advice from a tax expert.

The Institute of Export and International Trade maintains a list of customs agents (also known as brokers) here: https://www.export.org.uk/page/CustomsBrokerRegister

After a no deal Brexit, whoever is legally responsible for importing your goods into the EU will need to complete an EU customs declaration. It will be their choice whether to complete the administration themselves or to employ an agent to do this on their behalf. 

If they are buying products of animal origin from you (meat, dairy etc) they will also need to pre-notify their customs authority using the EU’s TRACES system.

Please note that although we are developing FTAs with a number of new countries this is not a guarantee that we will be able to sell them meat, dairy or potatoes. It is important to disaggregate FTA’s from Phytosanitary checks.

You need to follow special rules to export animal products that will be used as food, for example:

  • frozen or fresh meat and fish
  • dairy products
  • honey
  • gelatine, lard or blood

What you need to do depends on if you’re exporting within the EU or outside the EU. You will usually need to complete an export health certificate (EHC) and some supporting documents to be able to export your product.

There also needs to be a bilateral arrangement on a product by product basis. For example we have approval from China to ship certain pork products from specified factories, however this does not currently include trotters nor other meats.  At the same time we do not have a Free Trade Agreement either directly or through the EU. We have been told that all countries that we currently trade with under EU certification will be transposed to UK certification.

This link will bring you to a  government look up site to see the countries and the specified products for which we have agreed EHC’s.  

The new digital platform is going to help enormously when it comes to generating EHCs in comparison to producing the current watermarked paper copies. This was intended to be ready by October 31st however a date has not yet been announced. We have been told there is a potential 3 week delay. Look out for any news on this and we will then also update this site.

The latest government advice on export health certificates is maintained here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-an-export-health-certificate

Trade with the rest of the world

Leaving the EU will affect the UK’s trade with the rest of the world in a variety of ways.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal it will introduce a new tariff schedule. See the section on Tariffs on this site for more details.

These tariffs would apply to imports from all countries, except for those where a trade deal is in place.

The UK currently participates in around 40 trade agreements negotiated by the EU with more than 70 countries, representing c11% of the UK’s total trade. All of these would legally cease to apply as soon as the UK leaves the EU.  

However the UK is seeking to negotiate “continuity agreements” with as many of these countries as possible. A list of the agreements agreed to date is kept here: gov.uk/government/publications/existing-trade-agreements-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-without-a-deal/existing-trade-agreements-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-without-a-deal#signed-uk-trade-agreements

Under these continuity agreements, the tariffs applied to imports entering the UK would be unchanged, unless the new default UK rate is lower, in which case that would apply.  

For exports from the UK, there will be no difference when sending goods to countries that do not have a trade deal with the EU. The UK already trades on a WTO ‘Most Favoured Nation’ basis with these countries and will continue to do so.  

For those that do have a deal and have signed a continuity agreement, the changes will probably be minimal apart from the Rules of Origin. To qualify for a preferential tariff, products will need to meet the criteria as UK-produced, and not just EU-produced as currently.

However, there may be additional technicalities within some agreements that could affect you, so seek advice if you’re not sure.

For those countries that have a trade deal with the EU but have not signed a continuity agreement with the UK, exports from the UK will become subject to each country’s default WTO tariffs and rules.  

There may also be some gaps between the UK leaving the EU without a deal and certain continuity agreements coming into legal force. If so, there would be a limited period of trading under basic WTO rules with these countries. Check for information on this at the time.

Extra complications will apply for any trade between the UK and the rest of the world that is routed via the EU. Again, seek expert advice if you are unclear about this.