HMRC simplifies importing from the EU as part of 'no deal' preparation

Tue 5 Feb 2019
Posted by: Sam Pileggi
Trade News

HMRC photo


HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has written to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses trading with the EU about simplified importing procedures and also updated them on the actions that they need to take to prepare.

Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) for customs will make importing easier for an initial period of one year, should we leave the EU without a deal, to allow businesses time to prepare for usual import processes.

Once businesses are registered for TSP, they will be able to transport goods from the EU into the UK without having to make a full customs declaration at the border, and will be able to postpone paying any import duties.

Treasury Minister, Mel Stride MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

"Leaving the EU with a deal remains the government’s top priority. This has not changed. However, a responsible government must plan for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario. Businesses and citizens should ensure they are similarly prepared for leaving the EU.

"HMRC is helping businesses get prepared and, amongst other significant communications, has written 3 times to affected businesses, each time stepping up the advice and encouraging them to take action.

"This latest letter, and new GOV.UK guidance, announces Transitional Simplified Procedures for EU trade which will ease the transition, especially for businesses new to the rules associated with importing."

The new procedures reduce the amount of information importers need to give in an import declaration when the goods are crossing the border. They do this by allowing importers to defer:

  • giving a full declaration until after the goods have crossed the border
  • paying any duty until the month after import

If tariffs apply to the goods that they import, and they want to use transitional simplified procedures, they will need to defer paying any import duties by setting up a direct debit.

Phil Tobin, Managing Director for Trade Finance at Bibby Financial Services, IO&IT Corporate Partner, said:

“This will not be enough to stop a customs nightmare in the event of a no deal Brexit. While it does reduce the information importers need to give, the UK relies on goods being moved quickly through the border. If paperwork is incomplete or incorrect, it will hold up everyone in the queue and potentially create a huge blockage. 

“Even with simplified customs procedures, the consequences of a no deal Brexit would be catastrophic. The imported goods SMEs need to operate are likely to be delayed, causing revenues to fall and a shortage of goods on shelves for consumers. Our tax system needs to be simplified to support SMEs not hinder them with more paperwork.”