As the UK continues to adapt to life outside the European Union, the start of 2022 marks another milestone for business. As of 1 January 2022, the rules governing the export and import of goods between Great Britain and the EU will change. It’s important to check the requirements carefully to ensure your company is ready for these changes.

1. Upfront customs declarations (no 175 day grace period)

Companies currently have 175 days from goods entering the UK to make all relevant customs declarations and pay applicable tariffs. From 1 January 2022, this grace period ends, and declarations will need to be done at the time of importing.

This means you need to fill in paperwork now for any goods which you have ordered or plan to order which are arriving on or after 1 January 2022. This approach is already the case for exports: upfront paperwork has been required since 1 January 2021.

Goods that do not have the correct paperwork will not be able to clear customs, which could potentially cause disruption to your supply chain. The government has provided information for import businesses, including a step-by-step guide to customs declarations. You can also apply for authorisation to use simplified declarations for imports.

2. Rules of origin

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which was signed at the end of 2020, governs the country’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU and sets out the preferential terms of trade in goods and services.

While the Agreement is not changing, from 1 January companies must prove goods are local to either the UK or EU. They will need to show that goods imported into the UK originated in the EU, and that goods exported to the UK originated in the EU. If they cannot, firms could be liable for the full rate of customs duty. Penalties could also be imposed.

There are two ways to prove origin: a statement from the exporter, or so-called importer’s knowledge, which allows the importer to claim preferential tariff treatment based on their own knowledge. Supporting documents may be required, however, such as description of the production process. The government has provided details on how to prove a product’s origin.

3. Pre-notification for certain products

From 1 January 2022, companies will now be required to inform customs authorities ahead of importing certain animal and plant goods.

You can check if you need to pre-notify on the government information pages for the import of plant and plant products and products of animal origin.

4. Delayed changes on some import controls

Certain import controls have been delayed, from full implementation on 1 January 2022, to 1 July 2022. These are in the areas of health certification and physical checks on plant and animal products.

5. Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS)

From 1 January 2022, hauliers moving goods between Great Britain and the EU must be registered with the GVMS, a border control information system.

Drivers will not be able to board a ferry or shuttle across the Channel if they are not registered. You can register for the scheme online. The government has also posted a full list of GVMS-compliant ports.

Once registered, drivers will need to present a valid goods movement reference (GMR) number at check in. The GMR number links together pre-lodged declaration references. A driver, haulier manager or customs agent can create the GMR.

What about Northern Ireland?

The changes coming into force on 1 January apply to goods moving between Great Britain – England, Scotland and Wales – and the EU only. For Northern Ireland, trade relations are governed by the Northern Ireland Protocol. More information can be found on the government website.

Prepare for change

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU, after a decades long relationship, is an evolving process, and one which has been further complicated by the pandemic. It’s important for companies to arm themselves with the right resources, talk to suppliers and adapt systems as required.

To have a clear understanding of what is required on 1 January 2022, it’s important to check the government’s resources on import - export. If you use a customs agent or broker, it’s wise to get in touch with them and talk through any changes to procedures.

This article is intended as general information only and does not constitute advice in any way. For any specific questions, you may want to consult your legal advisor.

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