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Brexit update – what are the changes from 1st January 2022, are you ready for new customs rules?

From 1st January 2022, full customs declarations will be introduced, this means new rules for importers.

customs timeline changes 2022What’s changing –

Delayed customs declarations will end.

Over the last 12 months importers were allowed 175 days before the full (supplementary) import declarations needed to be submitted, and VAT and duty (if any) could be paid at a later date.

From 1 January 2022, customs declarations will be required “upfront” and any applicable tariffs must be paid “upfront” as well (although VAT-registered businesses will still be able to use postponed VAT accounting to avoid having to pay Import VAT at this stage).

There is also likely to be a higher level of physical checks (currently these are limited to “high risk live animals and plants”).

The requirement for pre-notification of agri-food imports – originally planned for 1 October 2021 will come into effect on 1 January 2022.

If you’re already making full import declarations, or if you’ve started submitting supplementary declarations, you’re well prepared. If you’ve not made any declarations to HMRC for goods you’ve moved from the EU since January 2021, you need to start preparing now for this change.

The UK Government recently announced a postponement, but this only relates to the following measures, most only relevant to agri-food imports:

  1. There is an additional grace period to comply with requirements for Safety and Security declarations (for all types of goods); and for agri-food imports – export health certificates (for products of animal origin) and phytosanitary certificates (for products of plant origin) – will be delayed until 1 July 2022.
  2. An equivalent grace period will apply in relation to the requirement for all agri-food products to undergo physical checks at Border Control Posts – so this too will not apply until 1 July 2022.
  3. The requirement for all relevant products to be labelled with the new UK CA safety mark instead of the EU CE mark (originally scheduled for 1 January 2022 for most products); is now delayed until 1 January 2023.

What the changes mean –

Failure to provide the correct paperwork from 1 January 2022 will mean that goods cannot clear customs and enter the UK market.

Potential disruption may be expected with how the UK customs IT systems and other border-related infrastructure will cope with the change. Based on the delays experienced by UK firms exporting to the EU (where upfront paperwork has been required from 1 January 2021).

To mitigate the risk of disruption, some businesses are likely to stockpile ahead of the changes, which may itself create shortages. Coupled with continued high consumer demand driving congestion and pushing up rates along international supply chains.

Finally there is a risk that media coverage of the postponement will make some businesses think that they no longer have to prepare for change on 1 January 2022 – which is not the case.

Shipments that do not meet the customs requirements can be held indefinitely at the shipper’s expense, or even seized.

Customs declarations are used to determine the duties of the goods that are being transported. This includes information about the type of goods, transport, customs value and any tariffs or duties. Goods that are exported from countries outside of the UK or EU will be subject to import and export tariffs if they don’t meet the criteria outlined within the Rules of Origin.

Most businesses use third-party agents or intermediaries, like customs agents, freight forwarding companies and fast parcel operators, to deal with customs processes including completing customs declarations.

If you are using one of these third-party agents or intermediaries, you should have agreed with them who will make the declaration.

If you imported anything into GB between January and March 2021 and haven’t yet made your delayed declaration then these are now overdue. You will need to submit your declarations electronically using the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system (CHIEF) or the Customs Declaration Service (CDS).

To mitigate the risk of disruption:

Make sure your business is ready to comply with new border processes. In particular, engage with your suppliers to ensure that they can provide you with all the relevant information/paperwork needed to secure clearance of goods through UK customs (bear in mind that EU suppliers may have been lulled into a false sense of security by the postponement of most UK border processes until 1 January 2022).

Warehouse space is in short supply partly because of the run up to the Christmas period and partly because of stockpiling by other businesses ahead of the changes on 1 January 2022. Plan ahead, and be prepared to consider altering or repurposing existing premises or using shipping containers for storage on a temporary basis.

It is also worth exploring the availability of alternative sources of supply, should your existing suppliers be unable to deliver on time. Revisit your contracts to see if priority supply obligations, options and rights of first refusal can be put in place to support this.

The risk of disruption is highest at ports focussing on roll-on-roll off traffic, which do not have tried and tested systems to cope with high volumes of traffic requiring customs clearance and related border checks. Businesses may be able to avoid the disruption altogether by switching to other routes, such as short sea shipping to or from UK ports which are already well used to dealing with customs processes (because they handle higher volumes of traffic from non-EU countries). Short sea shipping usually involves unaccompanied containers which are then unloaded onto an HGV at the port of arrival, for onward distribution to their final destination.

Your freight forwarding partner can advise you to help keep your supply chain disruption free.

Did you know we are a customs broker?

TPS Global can handle your freight forwarding logistics, from start to finish, ensuring that your goods are processed and released by customs as quickly as possible, assisting with all necessary documentation, duties, taxes and payments.

From 1‌‌‌ ‌January‌‌‌ ‌2022, when full customs controls are introduced, the option to delay declarations without an authorisation from HMRC will no longer apply. You will need to choose to make full customs declarations when you import goods or to be authorised to make simplified declarations.

You may want to use an intermediary such as TPS Global to help you, but if you choose to make your own customs declarations you will need to start preparing now.

Different rules apply to controlled goods, exports, rest of the world goods and the movement of goods into Northern Ireland.

Contact one of our friendly team now to discuss your freight forwarding options. Call +44 (0)1622 237979 or email

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