Customs declaration changes: the next phase starts 1 January 2022

Post-Brexit changes to Customs declaration procedures have been phased in to reduce the immediate impact for businesses and the next phase takes effect from 1 January 2022.

Customs declarations on goods imported from the EU

From 1 January 2022, the right Customs declarations must be made (pre-lodged) before any goods enter the Great Britain from the EU – this can be done through the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS). Alternatively, the goods must come in directly to a port offering a ‘Temporary Storage’ facility (in which case the import declarations must be made within 90 days and before the goods leave their Temporary Storage). Not all ports can provide such Temporary Storage facilities and even where they do, goods will not be able to leave their EU destination unless there is a valid Temporary Storage authorisation and inventory linking in place.

The same rules will apply to declarations that must be made through the Trader Support Service (TSS) for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The 175-day declaration deferral period (introduced from 1 Jan 2021) will cease on 31 December 2021.

Animal and plant products imported from the EU (and Northern Ireland)

Pre-notification requirements of all Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods moving from EU to Great Britain will be introduced on 01 January 2022. This means that all 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 as well as fruit, vegetables and flowers. Any physical checks currently in place will continue to be conducted at the point of destination until July 2022.

From 1 July 2022, movement of certain goods will become subject to three checks. First there will be an electronic document check to confirm the consignment of goods has the right commercial documentation and certification. Prior to departure there will be an identification check on the seal applied to the consignment. On arrival there will be a physical check of the goods. These rules will apply to:

  • All meat and meat products
  • All regulated plants and plant products
  • All remaining regulated animal by-products
  • All remaining ‘high-risk’ food not of animal origin.

Checks on high-priority plants and plant products will no longer take place at the place of destination from 01 July 2022, instead they will be carried out at designated Border Control Posts (BCPs) or Control Points.

From 01 September 2022, certification and physical checks will be introduced for all dairy products imported from the EU and Northern Ireland.

From 01 November 2022, certification and physical checks will be introduced for all remaining regulated products of animal origin, including composite products and fish products (eg fish fingers). In addition, physical checks on live animals will take place at designated BCPs where a facility is operational at the point of entry (where there is no designated BCP, checks will remain at destination for other ports of entry until sufficient BCPs are operational).

Supplier declarations on origin for UK exports

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

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.

From 1 January 2022, where the exporter cannot issue a ‘statement of origin’ based solely on the production or manufacturing criteria for their work on the goods alone, declarations from their own suppliers about the origin of the components of the goods must be held before the exporter issues the overall ‘statement of origin’ for the finished goods. Note that there is no legal obligation for a UK exporter to share the supplier declarations with the buyer/importer – only with HMRC. From a commercial viewpoint, however, the exporter may want to provide the buyer/importer reassurance by voluntarily share its supplier declarations.

Please note that 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. This is an important point, because some EU customs authorities have historically adopted, and continue to apply, strict controls and checks around EU companies claiming preferential origin at import. If a UK business can’t provide 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.

Intrastat declarations

From 1 January 2022, Intrastat declarations will only apply to movements of goods between Northern Ireland the EU (and vice versa). Therefore, the 2021 requirement businesses in Great Britain to continue to submit Intrastat reports for Arrivals will cease.

Customs 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. Read more on penalties for Customs Duty errors.

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