HMRC is urging traders to prepare for new rules coming into force on 1 January, with alarming research showing that only a quarter of affected small importers are ready for the impending changes.
Currently, full customs declarations for EU goods can be deferred at the point of arrival into the UK. However, from 1 January 2022, most importers will have to provide the full paperwork at the point of import, or in advance in the case of food, drink and products of animal origin.
Businesses need to consider before 1 January how they are going to submit customs declarations and pay any duties that are due.
A full list of the incoming changes and information businesses need to know was published by HMRC on 1 December.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), only one in four small importers who are impacted by the changes, and aware of them, say they are ready for them to take effect.
Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said:
“Given the turmoil of the past 18 months, new concerns about the spread of Covid, and this being the busiest time of year for many, it’s understandable that few firms are fully prepared for the introduction of import controls from January.
“What we’re saying to firms is: there’s still time to act. Speak to suppliers to ensure you have all you need to make declarations, consider alternative providers if that looks like an efficient way forward, and think about different transportation routes.
“Stockpiling will naturally be a temptation for those fortunate enough to have the funds for it, but there is already a squeeze on warehousing space – if everyone ramps up storage, that squeeze will only tighten.”