Image to represent Brexit

Trading goods internationally post Brexit


On 1 January 2021 the Brexit transition period with the European Union (EU) will end, and the United Kingdom (UK) will operate a full, external border as a sovereign nation. Accordingly the UK Government will introduce controls on goods moving from the EU to Great Britain, in a manner similar to the UK’s current treatment of Rest of World. This will be one of the biggest changes to import and export functions to occur in our recent history.

Recognising the impact of coronavirus the UK Government has taken the decision to introduce the new border controls in three stages over a six month period to 1 July 2021, these are in summary as follows:

From January 2021

Those businesses importing standard goods, covering everything from clothes to electronics, will need to prepare for basic customs requirements, such as keeping sufficient records of imported goods. These businesses will then have up to six months to complete customs declarations and submit them to HMRC (the associated payment of any duties or VAT will be due when declarations are made).

If businesses are exporting goods, then export declarations and UK exit Safety and Security declarations will be required for all goods.

From April 2021

All products of animal origin for example meat, honey, milk or egg products – and all regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification of their arrival in the UK together with ensuring all the relevant health documentation is provided too.

From July 2021

At this point trade with the EU will resemble that with the Rest of the World, businesses moving any goods will have to make full customs declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant tariffs

Actions you should consider taking now

  1. If you don’t already have one you should apply for a GB EORI number (, this will be required for all businesses moving goods into or out of GB.
  2. Customs declarations are complicated, you should certainly consider getting a Customs Intermediary. The majority of businesses that currently trade outside the EU use an intermediary, such as customs agents, Fast Parcel Operators (FPOs), Freight Forwarders (FFs) or brokers, to help them meet requirements.
  3. Import VAT is due on imported goods at the time of import, and is normally required to be paid before the goods are released, so be prepared to pay Account for VAT on Imported Goods from the EU.
  4. Those who import goods regularly may benefit from a Duty Deferment Account, this could speed up the import process and ensure goods are available for circulation quicker, whilst deferring the payment of Customs duty and VAT.
  5. Ensure you know the correct commodity codes for your goods, this is important for both import and export ( and forms part of the declarations you need to make.
  6. If you are arranging for delivery overseas you will need to ensure drivers have correct International Driving Permits.

By taking these simple steps you can make sure your business is ready for the changes that are coming (just around the corner).

If you have any queries, then please get in touch with Rob Case by email or call 01242 776000 and request a call back.