EU Exit Transition Period – No further extension for the UK (EU to UK Trade)

Important information for importers and exporters

On 12 June 2020, the government announced that it would not request an extension beyond the end of the transition period of 31 December 2020. 

The end of the transition period signals an end to the UK’s membership of the EU’s Customs Union. It signals a change in the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU but also the customs obligations and compliance requirements which may be placed on British and Northern Ireland businesses moving forward, subject to any agreement which may be reached in the intervening six month period.

Up until this announcement was made, the UK was going to introduce full border controls on 1 January 2021 for all EU movements. However, in recognition of the impact of COVID-19 it has now announced a revised three stage approach (see summary below).  This staged approach is aimed at helping businesses prepare for the changes and has been announced in conjunction with further support measures including an additional £50 million of funding being ring fenced for customs intermediaries.

UK Government three stage approach

From 1 January 2021

  • Customs declarations will need to be submitted for controlled goods including goods which attract excise duty (e.g alcohol and tobacco).
  • Declarations for all other goods and any associated import duties may be delayed for up to 6 months.
  • Businesses must have a duty deferment account or access to a duty deferment account to allow them to defer any payments of import duties.
  • A new Bulk Declaration Scheme for low value imports will be introduced.
  • Intrastat arrival declarations will still need to be submitted by businesses that exceed the relevant threshold.

From April 2021

  • All products of animal origin and all regulated plant and plant products will require a pre-notification and relevant health documents.

From 1 July 2021

  • Customs declarations will be required for all EU trade movements.
  • Full Safety and Security declarations will also need to be required.

The next few months will be a crucial period and British and Northern Ireland businesses need to consider whether they need to make changes to their supply chains and familiarise themselves with the new customs obligations if they trade within the EU.

For further information, our Customs Duty and VAT specialists can provide advice on the changes and confirm the suitability of existing import/export procedures.