Customs and compliance from the 1st of January 2021.

With around 16,000 trucks going through the Strait of Dover per day without any border controls, you can imagine the impact these new regulations are going to have on your supply chain.

As of the 1st of Jan 2021, the UK left the EU VAT regime, Customs Union and Single Market. An agreement was reached meaning that there are no tariffs on goods but there will be VAT on goods being imported from Europe into the UK and vice versa. 

You need to make sure you are familiar with the new customs and compliance procedures otherwise your goods will not cross the border. 

Customs formalities, checks and controls on goods

Customs rules required under EU law will apply to all goods entering the customs territory of the EU from the United Kingdom, or leaving that customs territory to the United Kingdom. Even with a free trade area established between the EU and the UK,  all products traded between the EU and the United Kingdom are subject to any applicable regulatory compliance checks and controls on imports for safety, health and other public policy purposes.

Rules of Origin

As of 1 January 2021, companies have to demonstrate the originating status of goods traded in order for these to be entitled to preferential treatment under the EU-UK agreement. Goods not meeting origin requirements will be liable to customs duties. Trade between the EU and its preferential partners is also affected, as UK content (in terms of both material and processing operations) becomes ‘non-originating’ under Union preferential trade arrangements. Even though there are no tariffs imposed, specific customs declarations and paperwork are required. Therefore, it is crucial to provide a statement of origin on an invoice or any other document describing the originating product in detail. You will now need to document your goods' origin, and if you fail to do so, your cargo will be delayed, and additional costs could occur. That’s why we recommend you have these customs formalities in place.

Get familiar with Incoterms

As it is now crucial to have the right documents in place, you should get familiar with international commercial terms – also known as Incoterms – to ensure suitable importers–exporters terms are in place. If you are exporting under DDP terms, we advise that you consider moving to DAP in order to avoid setting up an EU EORI number. Double-check to ensure your EU importer is compliant with EU requirements. 

VAT and Excise duties

As of 1 January 2021, the rules for payment and refund of Value Added Tax (VAT)  changed. This is relevant for both goods and services. Excise duties are due upon the importation of goods brought into the VAT territory of the European Union from the United Kingdom for excisable goods (alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, etc.). The government has introduced Postponed VAT Accounting known as PVA. 

If you are importing goods into the UK this update could be very beneficial to your business. The introduction of PVA will enable you, as an importer, to account for and recover import VAT as input tax on the same periodic (usually quarterly) VAT return, rather than having to pay it upfront. More information on PVA can be found here: PVA Technical Note

If you decide to use WTA UK as your customs agent, simply notify us that you want to use the Postponed VAT Accounting (PVA).

The Importance of AEO Accreditation


Communicate additional documentation requirements to customers and suppliers

Make sure you communicate the new requirements to your partners and explain to them the additional paperwork and potential delays. In this way, you can ensure they see you as a reliable partner.

Key paperwork

Paperwork you are required to submit for both imports and exports:

  • Consignor / consignee information (name and address)
  • EORI numbers of both Consignor and consignee
  • Origin of goods 
  • The country where the goods are destined
  • Commodity codes
  • Customs procedure codes
  • Value of the goods
  • Weight and number of packages of the goods
  • Commercial invoice number and invoice date
  • Incoterms

Export Documentation submission 

Submission of your export paperwork needs to be done at least 24hrs in advance and you need to be in receipt of the “Permission to proceed” (P2P).  

All export information needs to be submitted electronically. If your goods are being trucked over to Europe, the driver will need to have all the necessary customs documentation. 

If you are exporting plants, animal products or live animals there are very specific procedures to follow and it requires more advance preparation. 

Talk to your WTA UK customs representative for more precise information or you can find more information at the  Institute for Government.


How to export goods from GB into the EU from January 2021


Importing goods from the EU - UK

Goods from the EU – UK will not require full customs checks from 1st January to 30th June 2021 unless your goods are controlled substances. This means, you can delay your customs declarations for 6 months from date of import, but you must keep a record so that payments and the full declaration can be made. This process is known as EIDR (Entry in Declarants Record) but you or your agent will need to be approved for ‘simplified procedures’ by HMRC by the time you complete the supplementary declaration.

Live declaration is an alternative to EIDR customs clearance method. It means any goods you import into the UK must have all the paperwork prepared upfront. 

There are specific procedures to follow if you are importing live animals, plant products or animal products. If you would like more information about this, contact us. 

How to import goods from the EU into GB from January 2021


What happens next? Key dates for your diary

1st April 2021

All products of animal origin (POAO) – for example meat, honey, milk or egg products – and all regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation. Any physical checks will continue to be conducted at the point of destination until July 2021.

  • If you are importing Products of Animal Origin (POAO) or a regulated plant and plant product, you must be prepared to submit pre-notification and the relevant health documentation.
  • You must meet Safety and Security requirements on all exports.

Note: If you are not importing Products of Animal Origin or a regulated plant, you do not need to make any changes from January 2021 requirements.

1st July 2021

If you are moving any goods, full customs declarations will need to be done at the point of importation and relevant tariffs paid. Delaying declarations will no longer be possible and full S&S declarations will be required. For commodities subject to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls, these must arrive at an established point of entry with an appropriate border control point and there will be an increase in physical checks and the taking of samples. SPS checks for animals, plants and their products will take place at GB border control posts. The Good Vehicle Movement Service will be in place for all imports, exports and transit movements at border locations which have chosen to introduce it.

  • You must meet full customs requirements including submitting declarations, regardless of whether it is a controlled or a non-controlled good, as well as paying VAT and excise duty where necessary
  • Submit Safety and Security declarations on all imports.
  • Be prepared for customs compliance checks either at port or an inland site
  • Be prepared for relevant SPS goods to enter GB via a Border Control Post either at port or an inland site, accompanied by SPS documentary requirements.
  • Do not fail to complete customs, VAT and excise requirements or fail to submit goods to any necessary physical and documentary checks at GB Border Control Posts.

WTA Imports to. UK

Border Operating Model

The Border Operating Model sets out the changes and new obligations that businesses must comply with in order to move goods across UK borders (either importing or exporting).

View the latest Border Operating Model here.

There are specific procedures to follow if you are importing live animals, plant products or animal products. If you would like more information about this, contact us.

Jargon Buster

Want to know more about the Jargon used when talking about customs and compliance. Brush up on all the terms via this link from Customs Clearance Consortium.


Learn more about Brexit and Your Supply Chain


Learn more about customs

Speak to Andrew

Working in international freight and logistics for over 30 years, Andrew Jessup is an expert in his field. He started his career off with 8 years at HMRC, this role gave Andrew the foundations to become the customs compliance expert that he is. After moving to P & O ferry masters for a couple of years, Andrew settled himself into what turned out to be an incredibly longstanding career at WTA.

Having been part of the WTA team for over 20 years now, Andrew is an integral piece of our logistics puzzle. Prior to moving into his current role, Andrew successfully managed our import department and has co-ordinated various types of import of shipments from around the world. Andrew specialises in customer service, logistic operations and most importantly customs compliance. It is his expertise in customs compliance that made him the perfect candidate to become our compliance manager.

He is customer oriented and is always looking for ways to share his knowledge. Andrew is currently focused on leading and managing the implementation of Brexit. Andrew is committed to helping your business and delivering an outstanding experience.

Contact Andrew Jessup
Andrew Jessup WTA Group