20th July 2020

On 13 July 2020, the Government published more detail on the procedures that businesses will need to follow when importing goods into Great Britain from the European Union from 1 January 2021.

With the current COVID-19 epidemic being at the forefront of events for most of this year, you may be forgiven for overlooking that the United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January; the transitional agreement is set to end on 31 December 2020, with no extension likely.  After 31 December, the UK will no longer be in the EU Single Market, and businesses importing goods from the EU will need to make necessary customs declarations and pay relevant import duties and VAT.

The Government previously announced some simplified procedures for businesses importing good into the UK from the EU in June – this covers the period from January until June 2021. These measures were designed to assist businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 epidemic and have therefore been unable to prepare fully for this significant change.  On Monday, the Government published some further detail (click here) on the procedures businesses should follow.  In summary, the measures are:

  • businesses can record the import in their own records;
  • the supplementary import declaration can be made up to 6 months later;
  • import VAT to be account for on VAT returns, if importer is VAT registered.

Ian Coulthard, VAT Senior Manager at UNW, said: “These simplified import procedures are very welcome and should greatly assist businesses make the transition from importing goods from the EU under what was the Single Market.  It is important to note that these procedures only apply to imports of goods from the EU, and do not include imports from ‘the rest of the world,’ which we understand will continue to use existing customs procedures.

We would recommend all businesses that currently import goods from EU countries, when practical to do so, look to put in place the systems and obtain necessary authorisations for simplified declarations; or appoint agents, sooner rather than later, to take advantage of the simplifications.”

If you would like further guidance on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact one of our dedicated VAT specialists: Mark Hetherington, VAT Partner, on 0191 243 6073 or at markhetherington@unw.co.uk; or Ian Coulthard, VAT Senior Manager, on 0191 243 6017 or at iancoulthard@unw.co.uk.

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