Article

Brexit in 2022: New Year, New Rules

3 min read

By Tim Williamson

article hero image

Post-Brexit changes to trading rules have been phased in that will affect businesses in the EU and beyond. Below we have outlined the changes to the governing trade rules in the UK which businesses should be aware of that have come into force as of 1 January 2022.

Our advice is to ensure that client businesses based in the EU or other, 'third' countries discuss responsibilities  with any GB/UK based trading partners so that they are clear about which party bears responsibility for certain regulatory tasks to avoid unnecessary delays and reduce the risk of incurring unwanted liabilities.

Customs Declarations

From 1st January 2022 exports from GB (and imports from the EU) will be subject to full customs controls.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) allowed a delay in submitting customs declarations during 2021. For most imports from the EU, this temporary delay rule, or 'Staged Customs Control' rule ceases from 1 January 2022. 

The only exception is that the delay in declarations can continue for imports from Ireland (even where the goods originate elsewhere in the EU and are moved through Ireland or Northern Ireland en route to Great Britain).

Ports and other border locations will be required to control goods moving between GB and the EU.  Goods may be directed to an inland border facility for documentary or physical checks if these checks cannot be done at the border.

This concessionary treatment will continue to apply while negotiations with the EU continue on the Northern Ireland protocol. Where the delay facility is used, any duty payable is also delayed until the declaration is made. However, any import VAT must be reported and paid for the VAT period covering the import date.

Therefore, from 1 January 2022 a full Customs declaration must be made for goods arriving in the UK from the EU (pre-lodged) before any goods enter Great Britain from the EU, apart from Ireland as per above. This means that from 1 January 2022, traders must also submit an “arrived” export declaration if the goods are moving through one of the border locations that uses the 'arrived exports' process.

If traders do not follow the correct process from 1 January 2022, the new systems will not permit the goods to leave the country and they will be turned away as they will not hold export clearance. Therefore, it is very important for traders and freight forwarding agents to be crystal clear about who is responsible for making the relevant declarations, to avoid unwanted delays at the border.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Goods

Pre-notification requirements of all Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods moving from EU to Great Britain were introduced on 1 January 2022. However, as with Customs declarations, such goods imported from Ireland will be exempt from these requirements while negotiations with the EU continue on the Northern Ireland protocol.

This means that goods movements into Great Britain must be pre-notified via the Government’s 'Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) before the shipment takes place. This affects ‘Products of Animal Origin (POAO)’ – for example meat, honey, milk or egg products. Any physical checks currently in place will continue to be conducted at the point of destination until July 2022.

We shall provide further updates on this and other proposed changes expected to come into force during the course of 2022.

What about the 'trade deal' between the EU and UK?

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) allows EU and UK traders to benefit from reduced rates of Customs Duty (typically 0%) but the exporter must be able to prove that goods exported originate in the relevant territory.

The 'origin' of goods means where they (or the materials, parts or ingredients used to make them) have been produced or manufactured. UK exporters need to issue a ‘statement of origin’ so that the preferential tariffs can be applied by the EU customer/ importer. A supplier declaration may also be required.

It will no longer be permissible for goods to be exported with supplier declarations to follow.  Exporters must now be in possession of full and accurate supplier declarations where required.

Why is this particularly important?

Under the terms of the TCA, the Customs authority in the EU member state of import can ‘instruct’ HMRC to carry out a Customs origin audit on a UK exporter, if the EU Customs authority believes that UK preferential origin is being applied incorrectly. If a UK business can’t provide all the required supporting evidence when asked by HMRC to verify the origin of the goods exported:

  • The EU customer will be liable to pay the full (non-preferential) rate of Customs Duty
  • The UK business may be charged a penalty
  • The UK business may be blocked from using preferential tariffs going forward

Enforcement

While HMRC have taken a relatively light touch to Customs declarations and procedural requirements throughout 2021, 2022 will see things return to business as usual with penalties for incorrect Customs declarations. 

Conclusion

This all points to the conclusion that traders must be careful to ensure regulatory compliance is high up the agenda in their particular arrangements and that all parties are clear about who is doing what to ensure nothing falls through a net which is becoming increasingly tight.