Here you’ll find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions concerning Brexit and the potential impact on your business.

Brexit has happened so why do I need to do anything?

The United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January 2020. However, until 31 December 2020 the UK and the EU are in a Transition Period where all processes and procedures remain the same as applied prior to the UK leaving the EU.

At the end of Transition these processes and procedures will change and business need to be prepared for them to avoid any disruption to their business.

What will be the impact of Brexit and the end of the transition period on my digital supply chain?

There are different scenarios possible depending on the goods you ship and your operating model. Your daily processes are likely to be changed and this will also influence your digital processes. To avoid problems and acting too late, start your preparation on time.

For all goods moved between the EU and the UK there will be the need for an Export Declaration and an Import Declaration.

In addition, you may be responsible for ensuring that safety and security notifications are made (so called “Entry” and “Exit” summary declarations).

If you import any type of controlled goods then you may be required to make additional pre-shipment notifications to the relevant countries’ authorities, obtain export certificates or import licences.

For certain goods such as live animals or products of animal origin you may need to adjust your shipping routes to ensure you enter the customs territory via designated Border Control Posts for the specific types of products being imported.

What should I do?

Do not wait. Start preparing today.

But I understand the UK is implementing a phased approach so I should wait to see what the outcome of the Trade negotiations are?

The UK will have a 6-month phased implementation where for certain goods an entry in the commercial records (knowns as Entry in the Declarant’s Records “EIDR”) can be used as a supplementary declaration lodged within 6 months from the date of import.

It is also the case that the requirement to submit UK Entry summary declarations will be waived for the first 6 months.

But, this does not apply to controlled goods (Excise and Licensed goods) nor does it apply to goods moving from the mainland UK to Northern Ireland.

For controlled goods, a simplified frontier declaration will still be required, as with the original Brexit planning this is likely to be a pre-arrived or pre-lodged declaration with the arrival being confirmed within 24 hours of import.

Also whilst any Free Trade Agreement may affect the duties payable and may even address some of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements on animal, food and plant products it will not remove the need to submit import and export declarations.
It also will not affect exports to the EU as there is no indication that EU Member States will have the same phased approach.

What are my options for submitting my own customs declarations?

You can choose to do this yourself for which you would need a software solution or you could choose to use an intermediary such as a customs broker.

Can Descartes help me with EIDR even if I am not ready to submit my customs declarations?

Absolutely; functionality exists within the e-customs software to complete post arrival declarations. This allows you to record the minimum data required to comply with the Customs requirements and then use that same data to submit the customs declarations within the 6-month period.

Why would I choose to do declarations myself?

Ultimately as import or exporter, most brokers will be acting as a direct representative which means the legal liability of the accuracy of the customs declaration and any tax liability remains with the importer or exporter. Therefore, some traders prefer to maintain control over their customs declarations by submitting themselves.

Of course, most brokers bring a wealth of experience and expertise but they will also be under pressure with the large increase in the number of declarations required and the lack of capacity in the intermediary market has been a recognised concern and you may find it difficult to find a broker.

Then there is also the cost, depending on the number of shipments per month it could work out more cost effective to submit your own customs declarations.

Can I submit import declarations into the country I am shipping to?

If you have a permanent establishment in that customs territory, so the UK for imports into the UK or an EU Member State for imports into the EU (you may need a branch office in the actual Member State of import or a SASP authorisation) then yes.
Generally it is not permissible for a company established outside the customs territory to act as a declarant or hold customs authorisations, you will either have to appoint a fiscal representative to act on your behalf, use a freight forwarder or change your terms of sale so that the importer is responsible for the import customs clearance. However, for foreign cargo remaining on board (FROB), the ISF (Import Security Filing) Importer is the carrier.

Can Descartes help me submit declarations in the EU as well as the UK?

Yes, we have SaaS solutions covering especially the Benelux and Scandinavian regions. Contact us for more information.

For imports into the UK do I need any specific port accounts?

For goods imported via the major ports and airports, these are generally managed by port community systems and are commonly called inventory linked. For these although you can still submit declarations using our software you will need a port Community System Provider (CSP) Badge for each inventory linked port. We can help guide you on how to get that set up, contact us.

I was planning to use TSPs after Brexit can I still do this?

HMRC have stated that Transitional Simplified Procedures are currently suspended. The UK internal transition period is open to all companies if they wish to use the facility of suspending the declarations for up to 6 months. Make sure you keep records and complete your declarations asap.

What does Inventory Linked mean in the UK?

The customs declaration is linked to the port inventory system and a specific consignment, allowing for the customs release status on the port system to be automatically updated on clearance of the customs declaration and sent from customs directly to the port in a secure and trusted manner.

I am importing into the UK only via RoRo do I still need a “Badge”?

If your Ro-Ro location uses an existing port community system that is inventory linked then yes. Speak with the Community System Provider for that port.

If the Ro-Ro location is NOT inventory linked, then to complete a customs declaration you will need a "Badge". However, you do not require one per non-inventory linked location just a single “Badge” from any of the UK port community system providers such as Descartes Systems Pentant Community System Provider.

For VAT will I no longer have to pay at the time of import?

Post transition the UK will implement Imports Postponed Accounting where VAT is not paid at the time of import but accounted for in the usual VAT returns.

This is optional for VAT registered businesses and declared by means of a specific Method of Payment code. For non-VAT registered business or where VAT is being secured on deposit this will still need to be paid at the time of import.

How do I handle cargo from the EU that comes to the UK for Quality Control then goes on to the Republic of Ireland?

In general, if the goods are to be unpacked and checked then they would need to be imported into the UK under Inward Processing or Temporary Admission and then re-exported to the EU including the Republic of Ireland.

For goods imported into the UK destined for Northern Ireland then it still is unclear whether two declarations would be required, one from the EU placing the goods into Free Circulation within the UK Customs Territory and one to declare the intention in Northern Ireland or whether it would be better to move under Transit to Northern Ireland and clear Customs, preferably under Temporary Storage or if at risk of entering the Republic of Ireland into Customs Warehousing.

I may need to operate an ETSF - External Temporary Storage Facility, is there software to help?

The Descartes Pentant ETSF solution is tailor-made for truck-based movements into inland temporary storage facilities anywhere in the UK. The fully HMRC and Border Force approved Pentant CSP Inventory system brings full control and compliance to your ETSF and enables you to move your customs clearances away from the border to your inland premises, under the same controls, rules and regulations, bringing all operations in-house rather than at remote port clearance sites.

The unique truck-based solution is provided through Software as a Service (SaaS) and is fully accessible through the internet.

Based on Pentant’s many years of experience, in inventory-linked Ro-Ro movements through the Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel, the software provides the same level of detail and granulation required at a truck level for the clearance of goods, but at your own site.

The Descartes Pentant CSP also provides a direct, managed, physical line CHIEF to deliver your (or your agent’s) related customs declarations and responses. Contact us for more information.

But if the UK and EU agree a Free Trade Agreement does this mean the goods can move freely between the EU, UK and Northern Ireland?

Not necessarily, a Free Trade Agreement is not a Customs Union and will only apply to products that meet certain Origin Rules. Products just imported from China to the EU and on to the UK will not benefit from any EU-UK free Trade Agreement.
There will still be the need for customs processes and declarations and the risk of disruption to the UK or EU Market will still exist with regards to Northern Ireland.

If I am moving goods by Road is there anything I should be prepared for?

The UK is planning to introduce a Goods Vehicle Manifest Service (GVMS) to capture details of vehicles and the declarations for the goods they are carrying as an option for Northern Ireland ports who do not have an Inventory System. The GVMS will also facilitate an electronic office of Transit when goods moving under the Common Transit Convention enter Northern Ireland. Under this system all customs declarations would need to be submitted to the Customs and be quoted against the vehicles GVMS record. This would be either the Customs Declaration reference (e.g. MRN), a Transit MRN for goods moving under Transit or the traders EORI if EIDR was being applied.

On departure Customs would be notified that the vehicle was on its way to allow them to process the customs declaration in advance of arrival to facilitate the quick release from the port for those goods not subject to inspection. This is similar to the plan French Customs have made for goods crossing the Channel or using the Channel Tunnel and it is highly likely UK Customs will want to apply the same process for road movements from the EU at least by the end of the phased implementation.

As well as customs or transit declarations, there could be the need to submit Safety & Security declarations. It is the Carrier who is held responsible for lodging these declarations and for accompanied vehicles the Carrier is deemed to be the haulier.

For exports it is likely the same process will apply as originally envisaged for a hard Brexit, with Road movements being declared as arrived and movement to the port discouraged unless a clear permission to progress has been given via the Customs system.