Bitesize Brexit 2.0. Tips on what to do now: customs formalities

Since the Single Market was launched in 1993, UK businesses have enjoyed streamlined access to the EU. Whether or not the UK gets a deal, paperwork is going to increase. Here’s what you need to think about now.

At an hour before midnight on 31 December 2020 the transition period with the EU will end and the UK will operate a full, external border with the bloc. The result? Controls are going to be placed on the movement of goods between Great Britain and the EU, with separate rules for goods moving to and from Northern Ireland. While the government has taken the decision to introduce new border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021, there is a lot that businesses need to think about now.

In this series of bite-size ‘Brexit countdown’ articles, we focus on the commercial implications of ‘Brexit 2.0’ in certain key areas and set out a high-level overview of the sort of things you should be thinking about with your teams and customers, and what you should be doing to get yourself Brexit-ready.

Last time, we looked at market conditions. In this article we look at border controls and customs formalities.

What sorts of things should you typically be thinking about?

Consider these key matters in particular:

  • have you considered the changes to export and import controls, both with EU member states and non-EU member states that have a free trade agreement or other international arrangement with the EU?
  • to what extent will any increased costs for border crossings for people or goods impact you?
  • what will be the likely increased time for EU border crossings?
  • have you considered quotas?
  • do you need to consider trade sanctions and embargoes? The UK will implement a range of autonomous sanctions through regulations under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. As a result, you may need new licences.
  • what will be the likely effect of customs formalities and associated costs and delays? Who will bear responsibility for them?

Of course, every business will need to consider its own particular circumstances based on factors such as, in particular:

  • its location
  • the nature of its goods and services
  • the business, economic and regulatory environment in which it operates
  • the location of its key customers and suppliers, and
  • the make-up of its workforce.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the analysis you need to do but thinking about the commercial aspects above can help you decide what legal changes (if any) are necessary now and in the months to come.

At Shoosmiths, we have stayed close to Brexit developments. As always, we welcome any thoughts or comments from you and are ready to help you prepare for Brexit.

We are also producing briefings across all specialisms to keep you informed of legal changes anticipated in light of Brexit.

If you have any queries, do get in touch.

In the next article in this series, we’ll be looking at providing services.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.


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