There are only two weeks left to get your business ready for new trading rules with Europe, which apply from 1 January 2021. You will no doubt be aware that negotiations on a trade deal are continuing after the UK and EU agreed to go the extra mile to reach an agreement. But regardless of the outcome, everyone in the UK who trades with Europe, or under the Northern Ireland Protocol, will be affected by new rules and there are steps you can take to get ready. I urge you to act now.
In this week’s letter I want to focus on actions you and your business can take to prepare for changes to customs declarations from 1 January 2021.
If you buy goods for your business from EU countries and bring them into the UK, or if you sell goods to customers in EU countries, you will need to make customs declarations for your goods from 1 January 2021.
If you plan to trade with businesses in EU countries from 1 January 2021, you need to take these actions now:
- Check what customs declarations you need to make: From 1 January 2021, you must make declarations for all goods you import and export – you will need to follow the same process as used for trade with the rest of the world. If you import goods that are not controlled, you may be able to delay making import declarations for up to six months.
- Prepare to make customs declarations: If you plan to trade with EU countries in January or February, we recommend getting a contract in place with a professional customs agent or customs intermediary who can help you submit customs declarations now. This is especially important if you’re exporting or if you’re importing controlled goods, as you will not be able to delay your declarations.
When you make customs declarations, you will need to accurately record where goods have come from. If you do not provide the correct information, you may be charged the wrong amount of tax or duty and you may have to pay a penalty.
For businesses moving goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain there is support available to help. I urge you to:
- Check the latest Northern Ireland Protocol guidance to make sure you are prepared for new rules. If you move goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain sign up to the free Trader Support Service to help guide you through new processes.
If you’re a VAT registered trader, you will also receive a letter and checklist this week from HMRC to help you prepare for the new trading rules with Europe.
Businesses across the country have made preparations for the end of the transition period, enabling them to take advantage of the new opportunities in 2021. I would like to thank you for all your efforts, given the considerable challenges you have faced this year. With just two weeks to go, it is vital businesses like yours make final preparations to make sure you are ready for the changes and opportunities that 2021 will bring.
Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP
Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy