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UK post-Brexit full customs declarations and controls 1 Jan 2022

End to deferred customs declarations in place since Jan 2021; full goods checks at UK borders; proof of Rules of Origin for preferential tariffs

Since 1 January 2022, full border controls and customs declarations are required on goods entering the UK. This is based on the post-Brexit UK Border Operating Model. Since the end of the UK’s Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, these have been suspended twice to April 2021 and then January 2022. These changes reflect the UK’s exit from the EU Customs Union as part of the Brexit process. It only affects goods moving between the UK and the EU. Goods movements between the UK and rest of the world, and EU and Northern Ireland are unchanged.

There are also a range of further controls (e.g. Health and Phytosanitary Certificates) that have been delayed recently to  2023. In addition, the new labelling of goods entering the UK with the new UK CA safety mark (instead of the EU CE mark) has been delayed until January 2023.

Postponed VAT Accounting is still in place for importers to avoid cash payments of import VAT by reporting import VAT the their return. Note, since 1 January 2021 there are separate rules of e-commerce goods not exceeding £135.

1. Full customs declarations and duties required upfront

For most of 2021, importers of good from the EU to the UK were able to defer full customs declarations to CDS or CHIEF for up to six months under the Stage Customs Controls. From 1 January 2021, full declarations are required up front with duties payments, if applicable. This will require:

  • GB EORI number
  • Commodity code numbers for goods for the calculation of any tariffs
  • Origin of the goods (see Rules of Origin below)
  • Customs valuation of goods.

The declaration must be submitted by the importer or their agent. It is possible to apply for a ‘Simplified Declaration’ and Duty Deferrment Account to enable immediate release of the goods without a full declaration or duties payment, respectively. Prior notification of agri-food imports will be required.

There are two main customs processes that goods can be imported into, and which process applies will depend on what location the goods are imported through. Border locations can either use

  1. the existing temporary storage model where goods coming into GB can be stored at the frontier for up to 90 days before being declared to customs; or
  2. the newly developed pre-lodgement model (developed as an alternative for ports that may not have the space and infrastructure to operate temporary storage). This requires to have submitted a customs declaration in advance of boarding on the EU side.  HMRC has developed a new IT platform, Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), for this channel.

2. Full border controls

Full safety, security and regulatory checks – documents and physical inspections – came into force on arrivals of goods in the UK from the EU. Importers or their courier / freight forwarder must submit a declaration and have customs clearance. This includes exports documents checks. Full Sanitary and Phytosanitary (‘SPS’)  border checks and pre-notifications on a range of animal and non-animal produce will also come into force.

3. Tariffs and Rules of Origin evidence

Under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement, movements of goods between the UK and EU are effectively tariff free. They are entitled to claim ‘tariff preference.  However, this requires proof that the goods primarily originates (manufactured or significantly processed) in the UK or EU. Otherwise tariffs will fall due.  The ‘Rules of Origin’ govern the process for determining if good do originate from a country and therefore eligible for preferential tariffs. This requires two pieces of evidence (which have been suspended up until 31 December 2021):

  1. Statement of Origin from the exporter confirming the goods are from the UK/EU. This is prescribed text that can be added to the invoice for customs purposes.
  2. Confirmation from importer based on their understanding of the source of the good.

Since 1 January importers into the UK must produce supplier declarations for sending goods to the EU under preferential tariffs.

For temporary imports, VAT and duties refunds on Inward Processing is a good cash flow option.

July 2022 Health and Phytosanitary Certificates

Update: these Brexit border controls now delayed for 4th time to later in 2022.

In addition to the changes on 1 January 2022 above, a range for further controls will come into place on 1 July 2022:

  • requirements for full safety and security declarations for all imports
  • new requirements for Export Health Certificates
  • requirements for Phytosanitary Certificates
  • physical checks on sanitary and phytosanitary goods at Border Control Posts


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