December 10, 2021


The past year has seen some significant changes for importers and exporters of goods as a result of Brexit. There will some additional changes on 1 January 2022 as some of the transitional arrangements come to an end. These include:

End of deferred import declarations

During 2021 it was usually possible to delay making customs declarations for goods brought into Great Britain (i.e. England, Scotland and Wales) from the EU by up to 175 days without authorisation from HMRC. Different rules apply to Northern Ireland.

This relaxation will end on 31 December 2021 and, unless the importer is authorised for a “Simplified Procedure”, import declarations will have to be made at the time goods are imported into Great Britain. Getting authorised for Simplified Procedures is somewhat involved, and HMRC is warning that Authorisations may take 60 days to process.

Even if authorised the importer will have to submit detailed supplementary declarations and pay soon after, so this regime may not suit everyone.

There are other ways to defer the payment of import VAT and duty. A Duty Deferment Account allows import VAT and duty to be paid on the 14th day of the month following importation. This allows the VAT and duty payments to be deferred by up to six weeks. Again HMRC approval has to be obtained and in some cases a financial guarantee is required to cover potential customs debts.

For VAT registered businesses the Postponed Import VAT Accounting system allows import VAT to be paid and simultaneously reclaimed (subject to the normal VAT reclaim rules) through the VAT return. This has significant cash flow benefits. We would recommend VAT registered businesses who currently pay import VAT at importation and reclaim it often months later through their VAT return to consider this option.

Proof of Origin

Under the Free Trade Agreement with the EU goods originating in the EU can be imported into Great Britain without paying import duty and the reverse is true for goods originating in Great Britain which are exported to the EU. Proving the origin of goods is important when claiming a preferential duty rate.

Proof of origin can be based on a statement of origin made by the supplier or importers' knowledge. Where proof of origin is based on a supplier’s origin statement it is the supplier’s responsibility to ensure they have sufficient documentary evidence to support the statement they make. However where the contract terms mean the customer is responsible for paying import taxes the customer would be responsible for any underpaid import duty if the origin statement is incorrect or cannot be substantiated.

The evidence required to prove the origin varies depending on the type of goods involved. It could include information on the originating status of materials used in the production of a product which may, in turn, require declarations obtained from the manufacturer’s suppliers.

During 2021 suppliers in the UK and the EU could make a statement of origin even though they may not have held the necessary supporting documentation at the time, although it should have been obtained as quickly as possible. From 1 January 2022 suppliers issuing a statement of origin must hold evidence that the goods meet the relevant rules of origin before issuing a statement on origin.

Any statement of EU origin made by an EU supplier relating to consignments of over €6,000 should include the EU supplier’s Registered Exporter (REX) number.

Now is a good time for UK suppliers to ensure they have sufficient evidence to support any statement that goods are of UK origin and for UK customers to ensure statements of origin contain the correct details and their suppliers hold sufficient evidence to support any statement that goods are of EU origin.

It is important to remember many goods have a nil duty rate when imported into the UK or EU. In this case, there is no requirement to prove originating status to avoid an import duty charge.

The Government has recently launched an Export Support Service. This is a free service that provides access to online and phone support. You can access it on GOV.UK or by calling 0300‌‌ ‌303‌‌ ‌8955.

If you would like any advice or assistance reviewing your import procedures please get in touch.


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