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Customs & Brexit: Trade after Brexit

What is happening?

On January 31st 2020 the United Kingdom officially left the European Union. We are now in a transition period, which will last until December 31st 2020. In this transition period, the UK and the EU will negotiate a free trade deal. The time is short for the size of the agreement.

Prime Minister Johnson has already said that he will leave the EU no matter what. This means there is still a lot of uncertainty about how trade between the UK and the EU will be from January 2021 onwards.

A few things are certain:

  • The UK is no longer an EU member state.
  • The negotiations will be tough and the time is short
  • There will be certain filing or registration formalities for trade between the UK and the EU.

A transition period may prove to solve the most urgent worries, but at some point, the transition period should end with a final agreement entering into force.

As an importer/exporter, you should start preparing for this, even without knowing the exact post-Brexit requirements yet.

What can you do NOW to prepare?

Even though specific filing requirements are not published yet, you should make sure that any data which may be required is available. It is safe to assume that preparing for a ‘hard Brexit’ will prepare you best for any given scenario. Also have a look at this checklist. 
We have also prepared a Q&A with all the questions and answers regarding the Brexit. Please take a look and let us know if you would like to add something!

Some practical examples:

  • Make sure your ‘master data’ is correct and readily available within your company.
  • Have processes in place to efficiently share them with Customs Agents.
  • Have a full insight in all flows of goods from and to your company between the EU and the UK. Make projections, so you know the amount of work that is needed to complete these.
  • Make sure your legal documentation is in order (PoA, commercial contracts, etc.) so Customs Agents can clear your goods.

What can we do to help you?

Customs Support is a full-service Customs Agent with offices in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, and a partner in the UK to provide filing services in all UK ports. Besides customs clearance activities, Customs Support Consultancy provides advisory services to clients across Europe.

Customs Support can assist with and advise on all customs related issues, but we can’t do that without you. Let’s go through the aforementioned examples to give you a clear picture:

Master Data: it is essential that all data fields required for customs clearance are correct and available within the company. This means that basic information such as to value, weight, volume, insurance, and delivery conditions are kept in a structured database. A key element that needs to be captured is a product description and the HS code (Customs Code) data. Enriching a product database with correct HS code information is a time-consuming process that requires specialist knowledge. Don’t wait until December 31st with this. This can be done in advance. Customs Support Consulting provides ‘classification services’ to help companies establishing, enriching or updating the product database and be prepared for customs filings. You should make sure that data like the basic product information is correct.

Efficient data sharing: The increase in customs activities following the Brexit will put enormous pressure on the customs authorities and the customs clearance industry. Manual input of customs filings will be a challenge. As all filings are made digitally, and most data will be available in WMS or ERP systems, agreeing on a digital transfer of data with your Customs Agent will expedite your flows. You should align this transfer with your Customs Agent. Customs Support is able to receive and process customs data in multiple formats. We can process .xls/.xml/.csv and many other format documents or connect through, for example, an EDI connection straight with your IT infrastructure. Establishing a process takes time, so it is important to develop, test and agree on these processes well ahead of December 31st. Customs Support can assist in this process.

Projections: All filings are required to be checked and enriched/completed by a Customs Agent. Given the expected increase in filings post-Brexit, a shortage of specialist agents is expected. Reserving capacity at your customs agent is important to make sure that filings happen on a timely basis. This prevents shipments being detained by Customs in Europe or the UK. Make sure that you have an overview of expected volume on a monthly basis for at least 2020 and share this with us. On the basis of this information, procedures and IT connectors can be developed in a joint effort.

Documentation: Customs Agents must obtain a power of attorney to provide customs clearance services. Every exporter/importer needs to process such a PoA. This is generally a time-consuming process, especially for freight forwarders and other entities with a large pool of clients.

You should make timely decisions on how you will approach the upcoming surge in documents and make sure all legal documentation is in order. Do check the Brexit Checklist.

Customs Support can assist in preparing and gathering the proper documentation in a timely manner.

If you have any questions or issues concerning Brexit or any other customs-related matter, then please do not hesitate and contact us directly.


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