HMRC sends UK firms a checklist of preparations for trading with the EU from January 2021

Mon 14 Sept 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News


The government has today written to all VAT-registered businesses in the UK advising on preparations to make for post-transition trade with the EU. 

The letter reiterated that controls will be applied to goods moving between Great Britain and the EU from the start of next year, including the need for companies to complete customs declarations. 

For firms importing goods from the EU into Great Britain, controls will be introduced in three phases and declarations required for all goods imports from 1 July 2021. 


The UK continues to negotiate with the EU on the future trading relationship, including what tariffs will be set for goods. 

However, speculation that a no-deal outcome is increasing in likelihood was enhanced after the UK published draft legislation that would override aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement.  

The proposed Internal Market Bill undermines EU trust in the UK, according to the bloc’s lead negotiator Michel Barnier. 

Steps to take 

The letter – signed by HMRC’s directors of borders and trade, Sophie Dean and Katharine Green – suggested firms take the following steps to ensure they are ready for the new controls: 

  • Ensure you have a GB Economic Operator Registration Identifier (EORI) 
  • Decide how you will make customs declarations – either internally or using a customs agent or freight forwarder 
  • Check when controls will apply if you import goods from the EU and whether you can defer making declarations 
  • Decide how you will account for import VAT and check if it is due at the border 
  • Check the government’s tariff schedule – the ‘UK Global Tariff’ – to see what duties could apply to your goods 

Support for NI trade 

For firms trading goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland or bringing in goods into the region from outside the EU, HMRC also recommended registering to the free Trader Support Service (TSS). 

TSS – which was announced last month - will handle the new customs processes arising under the Northern Ireland Protocol on behalf of firms from 1 January 2021.