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Importers ‘wary’ of new EU customs rules

Research suggests that half of importers lack confidence in dealing with EU customs requirements that came into force on 1 January, with many investing in training and external support to adjust.


From 1 January 2022, temporary arrangements allowing importers to defer customs paperwork ended. This means that full customs declarations and import controls now immediately apply to most goods entering Great Britain from the EU, unless they come in from Ireland.

Full customs controls on goods moving from Ireland to Great Britain have been delayed due to continuing negotiations between the UK and EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol. For goods entering Great Britain from the rest of the EU, experts are urging firms to check with their suppliers to ensure they have everything they need to submit customs declarations correctly.

According to polls conducted by the Institute of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT), which says it experienced a near four-fold increase in helpline enquiries during 2021, most businesses have grown in confidence regarding trade with the EU over the last year. However, around half of those surveyed still lack confidence in a trouble-free transition to the new rules.

Just under two thirds of businesses surveyed said they had undertaken additional training to adjust to the new requirements. Many have also called on external support or hired more staff to deal with the additional processes and paperwork. Nearly half have sought support in the shape of a new customs consultant or freight forwarder, while a fifth said they have hired additional staff.

A full list of the changes introduced in January and information importers need to know has been published by HMRC online, along with a commodity codes tool to help classify goods correctly. Further changes, mostly affecting agri-food products or products of plant origin, will take place from 1 July 2022.

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