Tuesday, December 7, 2021

How Can I Avoid the Chaos Which May Ensue as Imminent Brexit Customs Changes Come In?

HMRC Suggest a Way to Ensure a Trouble Free New Year
Shipping News Feature

UK – As so often with changes to the country's tax regime the major alterations to the way goods are liable to import duty which come into effect on 1st January 2022 as a result of the Brexit agreement, there will be those who have failed to prepare for processes which could have a major impact on their businesses.

HMRC are offering advice to traders to consider how they will submit customs declarations and pay any duties that are due, and their foremost advice to solve the conundrum is borne out by the principal organisation which represents UK freight forwarders, the British International Freight Association (BIFA), i.e. making use of professional help, of which more later.

Those companies who think they might ‘go it alone’ and which do not have access to the Simplified Declarations Authorisation scheme, which allows them to have goods released directly to a specified customs procedure without having to provide a full customs declaration at the point of release, but think that is the right way forward for them, are advised to get authorisation immediately.

That said HMRC warns that, not only do such authorisations take up to 60 days to process, meaning they may not be in place by New Year’s Day, but to operate such a scheme one also needs a Duty Deferment Account.

From 1st January import and export goods may need to pass via one of several Inland Border Facilities (IBFs) for documentary or physical checks if these checks cannot be done at the border. Some of these will require advice as to times of arrival, and exports will need an ‘arrived’ export declaration for goods moving through one of the border locations that uses the arrived exports process.

Failure to follow the correct process will result in goods being turned away. All of which means shippers using their own transport or employing subcontract hauliers need to be absolutely clear on who has the responsibility for all the correct procedures being followed. After the dust settles in January there are of course more changes due on 1st July 2022!

HMRC has eleven points to follow to ensure each stage of the import processes are followed which you can see HERE. For many this will be a matter of great concern, those who may worry all appointed ducks might not be in duly specified rows in time for the changes. So what was the sage advice offered by HMRC when it came to ensuring a trouble, and potentially a cost saving, process? Use an intermediary, something wholeheartedly agreed with by BIFA, and with some good reason.

At the weekend the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found a significant majority of small importers that will be impacted by the new rules and checks but are not yet prepared for their introduction in less than one month’s time. Robert Keen, director general of BIFA picked up on this saying he was a little surprised by the news and continuing:

“The news followed yet another reminder from HMRC last week that traders need to prepare for customs changes that come into effect at the beginning of the New Year. Given the amount of information that has been issued by the government over the past 12 months, and the amount of information that is available on the websites of various government departments, as well as trade associations, it is alarming that so many respondents said that they were unable to prepare for the introduction of the new rules, or were not aware of them.

“Along with the government, BIFA has made it clear that businesses should appoint a specialist to deal with import and export declarations, regardless of the amount or value of trade that the business does with Europe. That’s one of the many services that freight forwarding companies offer, so I would urge any business that is not fully prepared for the introduction of import controls from January 2022, to visit BIFA’s website to find the details of one of our members that can help them.

“Many of those members have made significant investments to be able to handle the major upsurge in activities in regards to customs processing both before and since the UK left the EU.”

So the moral is simple, if you feel you are not prepared for the manifold changes to both import and export processes, consult an expert, a forwarding or customs agency which knows the ropes and may be by far the cheapest option in the long run.