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Northern Powerhouse European Union

What businesses need to do

Check what guidance you need to follow

Key Changes

From the 1st of January 2021, there will be extensive changes to border controls for the exporting of goods from Great Britain into the EU. Full border controls at our ports will be required, resulting in considerable changes for businesses exporting to the EU. It’s important you understand and plan for these changes now to minimise disruption to your business. 

Businesses in Great Britain need to complete the following actions to continue exporting to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein from 1 January 2021: 

Step 1: Check what guidance you need to follow 

You should follow different guidance if you're: 

Step 2: Find out how to declare goods from 1 January 2021 and check the new rules for your type of goods 

From 1 January 2021, you'll need to make customs declarations when exporting goods to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. These are the same rules that currently apply for exporting goods to the rest of the world. You can make the declarations yourself or hire someone else such as a courier, freight forwarder or customs agent. 

  1. Get someone to deal with customs for you
  2. Find out how to make customs declarations yourself
  3. Access grants for recruitment, training and IT improvements if your business completes customs declarations

Businesses using an intermediary will need to complete the following steps: 

  1. Attain an EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number 
  2. Check if your goods need any additional certification or licenses (e.g. if you are exporting livestock, food, chemicals or alcohol) 
  3. Check VAT guidance to understand why you should retain evidence of export to apply zero VAT rate 
  4. Find a customs intermediary to handle your declarations 
  5. Submit or ensure your intermediary has submitted INTRASTAT declarations if applicable 

If you use an intermediary and have provided them with all the information they need, you must still keep clear and accurate records of the goods you have exported to the EU for six years. You may need these to claim any appropriate reliefs or refunds. 

If you wish to complete declarations by yourself, there will be additional steps you will need to complete: 

  1. Get specialist training to use the National Export System (NES) and consider if you will buy specialist software to support you 
  2. Apply for a CHIEF badge
  3. Complete the export declaration on NES

From 1 January 2021, the rules for exporting some types of goods will change. 

  1. Check what export licences or certificates you need
  2. Check the labelling and marketing standards for food, plant seeds and manufactured goods
  3. Check the rules for exporting alcohol, tobacco and certain oils

Step 3: Make sure you have an EORI number starting with GB 

You need an EORI number that starts with GB to export goods from 1 January 2021. 

  1. Get an EORI number

Step 4: Find out if you can charge VAT at 0% 

From 1 January 2021, you can charge customers VAT at 0% (known as 'zero rate') on most goods you export to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. 

  1. Check if you can zero-rate your goods for VAT

Step 5: Update commercial contracts with customers 

Ensure the EU importer has all the information they need (their EORI number, import declaration in their country’s system and any additional licences and certification) to ensure effective border crossing. This will depend on the Incoterms used, for example, if the exporter sells on DDP terms they will be liable for all declarations, tariffs and VAT. 

Review existing contracts and ensure these are updated to reflect latest guidance – check this with your commercial solicitor. 

Submit or ensure your intermediary has submitted INTRASTAT declarations if applicable.

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