1. You and the team in BenelUK spoke to many companies in the light of post-Brexit preparations in the last weeks. What did you observe?
Understandably most companies had other priorities in the last months, while struggling with fundamental challenges as a result of the pandemic, preparation for Brexit was not high on their agenda.
From my personal conversation I had the impression that not all companies well prepared for Brexit. Some of them even believed that there will be an extension of the transition period. We started mid this year to communicate to all our customers and highlight the importance of preparations needed and our advice was always: Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
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2. What are key information that the UK government has shared on their side on Customs regulations and processes?
The UK Government has announced that it will implement full border controls on imports coming into UK from the EU and has taken the decision to introduce the new border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021.
For example, from 1 January, businesses importing “standard goods” – these range from things such as clothing to electronics – will need to fill out custom declarations and pay any necessary tariffs. However, traders have six months to fill out customs declarations and tariffs can be deferred until this time.
Also important to know is that a new IT platform will support a ‘pre-lodgement’ model, known as the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), where goods arriving at the border will be required to have submitted a customs declaration in advance. GVMS will be introduced from January only for transit movements – meaning that e.g. EU hauliers may need to submit their Transit Movement Reference Numbers (MRNs) and vehicle/trailer registrations via the GVMS before checking in at their port of departure. From July 2021, the GVMS will be in place for all imports and exports at border locations which have chosen to introduce it.
3. What do you see personally coming in January 2021?
Bringing two observations together – not all companies are well prepared, and even today two weeks before the end of the transition period – no information available about the outcome of negotiations between UK and the EU, I can foresee chaotic situation, long waiting times and traffic jams at the borders.
It is key that companies take all necessary steps to prepare and I would like to emphasize one thing again: For all companies trading with UK today it needs to be clear that from January from customs perspective – either deal or no deal – UK is becoming a third country, and thus customs clearance formalities apply.