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Transition – Imports

Status Changes

Following transition, the UK will stop being part of the EU, EU free trade rules will no longer apply and goods coming into the UK from EU will be imports, just like from outside EU

Products coming from or through the EU are now crossing borders so they will need documentation, and duty may be charged, just like importing from overseas; although The Northern Ireland Protocol provides some exemptions.

Additionally, as UK is no longer a member of EU then so EU trade deals with others will no longer apply to UK.  Separate treaties, agreements, and certification will apply.

Importing into the UK

Imports are subject to VAT and duty at point of import, assessed using commodity codes.

The Importer of record needs to make declarations to bring goods through customs – using the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

Your VAT number may be quoted to use the new Postponed Vat accounting rules otherwise VAT is due before goods are released

For uncontrolled goods, you may apply to use the simplified declarations procedure, available to aid transition, whereby you initially record imports in your own records, and then report and pay duty to HMRC within 6 months

You may choose to employ agents but will still need EORI Numbers

EORI numbers

In the UK and throughout the EU documentation requires reference numbers for both importer and exporter; this is called an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number.  As the UK will no longer be part of the EU, then your existing EORI number commencing GB will become a UK number; you may need to apply for a new EU EORI number if making customs declarations in the EU after transition. And there are new XI EORI numbers for trade with NI.

Postponed Accounting for VAT

Postponed Vat is being introduced 1st January 2021 for ALL imports to UK, not just from the EU.

A VAT registered business importing from any country, may quote its VAT number at the border instead of paying import VAT.

HMRC will then issue a statement of such VAT due, to be included as VAT payable on the VAT return; where a claim could also be available for this as purchase VAT.

Hence VAT is postponed to your VAT return – duties however will need to be paid at point of import.


UK is to remain a member of Transit after transition – the Common Transit Convention (CTC) system for simplifying the transport of goods into and around Europe (and other member countries), usually by road.  Goods are logged from consignee to consignor to or through offices of transit with one set of Transit Accompanying Documents (TAD) under a Customs Comprehensive Guarantee (CCG) such that

  • Customs declaration are not required at each border crossing
  • Duties are only paid at the end destination
  • Some customs procedures may be completed away from the border(s)

Commodity codes

Commodity codes are world-wide codes so should not change with transition.  However, do check that they are correct as they will dictate the rates of VAT and duty charged.

Goods sent to the EU for repair and returned to the UK

Outward and inward processing relief rules still apply for goods imported/exported for repair or processing and returned.  The ATA carnet scheme is independent of the EU so still applies for goods that temporarily move.

Selling direct to UK Consumers

EU Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) is being abolished 1st January 2020.  This was a 22 Euro (£15) de-minims limit for charging VAT on imports into the EU

After transition GB (UK excluding Northern Ireland) is introducing a new regime – a bulk declaration option for small packages under £135 each, imported into the country – whereby supply VAT is calculated and paid by the supplier online rather than import VAT at the point of import.  Overseas importers can register for UK VAT in order to use this system.

Alternatively, those selling goods to the UK can use an Online Market Place (OMP) who will then be responsible for managing VAT on these supplies.

For more information see our other blogs in this series

  1. What is Brexit Transition
  2. Identity
  3. Licences & Certification
  4. Staff
  5. Exports
  6. Services
  7. Actions & Costs

Or Visit HMRC

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