At the time of writing we wait and see if the UK governments proposals will be successful in reaching an agreement that can pass the EU and UK parliaments by 31st October leading to a transition agreement, whether there is a further extension if the “Benn Amendment” is complied with and the EU agrees to a further extension or UK parliament agrees to a no-deal – none of which are guaranteed.

The proposal that Northern Ireland can remain in the Single Market whilst leaving the Customs Union obviously leads to the need for some form of customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic, albeit the UK Government envisages that physical checks that are needed could be conducted at traders’ premises or other points on the supply chain, possibly such as distribution hubs or brokers premises under temporary storage or LCP (Customs Supervised Export) arrangements.

Whilst this could be acceptable on the UK side, whether the Irish Government and EU Member States are willing to offer similar facilitations remains to be seen or whether to achieve the same flow across the border transit would be required to move the goods inland to a place of customs clearance.

Despite original Day 1 No-Deal contingency removing declarations for all goods except excise and some controlled goods, the UK government is now proposing that at the end of any transition period, “all goods movements between Northern Ireland and Ireland will be notified using a declaration” under either transit or a pre-arrival declaration mechanism, similar to that which would apply between the UK and EU.

To avoid the mandatory checks at the border for animal and phytosanitary controls the proposal is for Northern Ireland to remain in the Single Market, checks or controls will then have to be introduced between the UK and Northern Ireland for regulatory compliance especially in the agricultural and food sectors; how the EU will respond to UK officials enforcing EU standards and the mechanism for dispute resolution is obviously in for more detailed discussion.

The UK Government said, “We are proposing that all customs processes needed to ensure compliance with the UK and EU customs regimes should take place on a decentralised basis, with paperwork conducted electronically as goods move between the two countries, and with the very small number of physical checks needed conducted at traders’ premises or other points on the supply chain. To enable this, we should both put in place specific, workable improvements and simplifications to existing customs rules between now and the end of the transition period, in the spirit of finding flexible and creative solutions to these particular circumstances. These arrangements can be underpinned by close cooperation between UK and Irish authorities. All this must be coupled with a firm commitment (by both parties) never to conduct checks at the border in future.”

In the meantime, testing of Irish Land Border declarations maybe give a clue of future thinking, despite any formal notifications Descartes have spotted new errors:

  • E3524 Destination Address required for an NIROI Declaration across ILB and
  • E3523 Starting Address required for an NIROI Declaration across ILB

This maybe answers how customs supervision could be achieved by one or other custom’s authority from the point at which they are declared for export until they are customs cleared on import. How exactly and when the relevant customs authority will be notified that the consignment has entered their customs territory is not detailed but could be the same as currently arriving pre-arrival declarations. To be achievable in real life when crossing the border drivers would need access to cloud or mobile solutions to send such notifications.

It is interesting that the proposal and explanatory notes includes a proposal that the UK and EU should take an approach which ensures that goods movements between Ireland and Northern Ireland should not require entry or exit summary declarations. Does this mean the UK has given up agreeing a similar agreement with the whole of the EU?

Brexit Grants

The UK government has also announced a further £10 million in grants for customs agents and intermediaries to build capacity in managing customs declarations. This is in addition to the existing grants available to provide funding towards training and IT costs for businesses that complete customs declarations. More information can be found here:

Brexit Links you may have missed

Anyone who has signed up for Brexit notifications will have seen their inbox increase dramatically over the last few weeks but some highlights / updates that may be worth reviewing:

To help facilitate the flow of trade and support local traffic management plans if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, HMRC are preparing temporary additional sites in for goods travelling through the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel under the Common Transit Convention (CTC) or the same ports and Holyhead with ATA Carnets.

Information on these sites, and when you should use them, has now been published on GOV.UK:

Authorised Consignor / Consignee

If you regularly import/export goods to the EU you should consider becoming an authorised consignor, to start transit movements at your premises, and/or an authorised consignee, to receive transited goods at your premises. Alternatively, you should consider finding an authorised consignor and/or consignee to manage your movements. Remember that in addition to authorised consignee you may also need a temporary storage approval supported by an approved temporary storage system.

Safety & Security Requirements

Although the UK has announced a temporary relaxation on requiring safety and security declarations on imports from the EU, hauliers as well as the shipping, ferry and rail companies will be responsible for lodging safety and security declarations to the EU unless covered by an alternative declaration.
The time limits for lodging these are 2 hours before arrival in the case of short sea crossings and 1 hour for rail (assuming a journey of less than 2 hours between the last UK station and first EU station). For road land crossings it is 1 hour before arrival although this would only apply on the ILB if applicable.

EU Publications

The EU has also reminded European traders of their requirements with regards to the UK leaving the EU

Written by Martin Meacock

Director, Product Management