New rules for businesses that trade with Europe have arrived. This means that since 1 January 2021, all businesses that move goods between Great Britain and countries in the EU, or under the Northern Ireland Protocol, need to follow new customs and tax rules.
What is an EORI number, and why do I need one?
You must have an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number that starts with GB if you wish to move goods between Great Britain or the Isle of Man, and other countries. Without it you will not be able to complete your customs declarations and you may experience increased costs and delays.
You will also need a separate EORI number that starts with XI if you:
- move goods between Northern Ireland and non-EU countries (including Great Britain)
- make a declaration in Northern Ireland
- get a customs decision in Northern Ireland.
To get an EORI number that starts with XI, you must already have an EORI number that starts with GB.
An EORI number consists of two parts, the country code followed by a unique code or number. If you already have an EORI number and it does not start with GB you will need to apply for a new one.
If you don’t have an EORI number that starts with GB or XI for Northern Ireland, you can register for free on GOV.UK. It takes 5 to 10 minutes to apply and you will normally receive it in under a week.
How do I classify my goods, and how do I prove their origin?
HMRC recommend that you hire a customs intermediary to help you ensure your goods are classified correctly. This is because if you do not classify your goods correctly or if you do not accurately record the origin of the goods in your customs declaration, you may be charged the wrong amount of tax or duty.
However, if you choose not to hire an intermediary, you will need to do this yourself. To help you make your decision, read the guidance on GOV.UK.
I’ve heard that I can delay my customs declarations, how do I do that?
If you import goods from the EU into Great Britain that are not on the controlled goods list, and they are moving from EU free circulation to GB free circulation, you may be able to delay import declarations for up to 175 days after import.
You can do this by making a record of the imported goods in your commercial records at the time of import and you don’t need to get authorisation in advance. You will need to send HMRC full information about your goods in a supplementary declaration within 175 days of your goods arriving in Great Britain. You must get authorisation from HMRC before you submit supplementary declarations and we recommend that you apply for this as soon as possible. You can find more information about delaying import declarations on GOV.UK.
If you decide to get someone else to deal with your customs declarations for you, they’ll be able to do this for you using their own authorisation.
You must still apply and be authorised for a duty deferment account to pay any duties owed on goods by monthly direct debit, even if your goods do not attract customs or excise duty. You need to have set this up before you complete your supplementary declaration. Even if you choose to use a customs intermediary, they may ask you to get your own duty deferment account.
You can find our Brexit Toolkit for small businesses and sole traders here: Brexit (sapphirebusinessservices.co.uk)