If you are currently importing to the EU or plan to do so after 31 October 2019, there are some steps you need to take.
Check your EORI number
Make sure you have a UK EORI number with a GB prefix. If you are VAT registered, and currently trade exclusively with the EU, the UK Government should have automatically issued you a GB UK EORI number. However if you are below the VAT threshold (for the 2019/20 tax year, the VAT registration threshold is set at £85,000, but can change each year), and you trade exclusively with the EU, you will need to apply for a UK EORI number via the GOV.UK website
If you are importing through receipt of parcels in the post (e.g. Royal Mail or Parcelforce) – you will not need a GB EORI number.
If you are importing via a platform such as ETSY or Amazon that uses a parcel company (e.g. DHL or UPS), if the parcel is low value (currently less than £600), you will not need a UK EORI as the parcel company is likely to be acting as exporter and importer.
If the parcel is high value (over £600), you are likely to be the importer and will need an EORI number.
Check if you need an import license
Certain types of goods, called controlled goods may require an import license. These include (but are not limited to) animals, plants and agricultural products, wood and wood products, medicine, tissues and cells for human application, chemicals and waste, guns, weapons and goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment.
Check the Temporary UK Tariff Schedule
If you are trading with the EU post 31 October, customs and or excise duties may apply. This does not apply to goods imported into Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland which will continue to be tariff free. The temporary rates of customs duty tarriffs was published in March 2019. Minor changes are anticipated with the revised schedule being published before 14th October 2019. If the goods you are importing from the EU are subject to a tariff (customs or excise duty) you may wish to consider setting up a duty deferment account. This will enable you to pay duties owed on goods by monthly direct debit. The duty deferment account needs to be set up before you import your goods.
Decide on which import procedures to use
Currently, under import processes for trading with non-EU countries, goods are not released from UK customs control until a full import declaration is made and the duty/VAT owed is paid in full. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK businesses importing from the EU will have to comply with the same customs procedures. There are 2 main procedures that you can use;
Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) – To prevent congestion and long delays in clearing goods at the border, HMRC are introducing Transitional Simplified Procedures which allows businesses to defer submissions until after goods have passed through Customs. The advantage of using simplified import procedures is that for most goods this allows you to delay submitting a full import declaration and paying customs duties for up to six months. You can find out more and enrol for TSP via the GOV.UK
If you are using the standard import procedure and also engaging the services of a customs broker you will need to provide the following information to the customs agent: your commodity code and your customs procedure code (CPC).
If you are using the standard import procedures and not engaging a customs agent, as well as completing the full customs declaration yourself you will also need to provide your haulier with the Movement Reference Number, your UK EORI number and the excise eAD or ARC (if available).
If you are using the standard import procedure, irrespective of whether you have engaged a customs agent or not, you will be responsible for updating the customs declaration to show goods have arrived in the UK. This should be done by close of business, the working day after the goods arrive in the UK. In both instances, you will need to pay the following:
Customs duty should be paid once the goods arrive in the UK. This can be paid to HMRC directly or you can register for a duty deferment account which allows you to delay payment
Import VAT be accounted for on your VAT return if you are registered for VAT
Excise duty must be paid unless the goods are placed into excise duty suspension
If you are using transitional simplified proceedures there are differences in relation to how transitional simplified procedures (TSP) will work for standard goods and controlled goods
See here for a definition of controlled goods: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/list-of-controlled-goods-for-transitional-simplified-procedures
If you are using TSP for standard goods, you need to record your import in your own records and provide your haulier with your UK EORI number. Once the haulier informs you that your goods have arrived in the UK you must update your records. You should submit your declaration by the fourth working day of the following month. However, you can delay submitting your supplementary declaration for up to the first six months after the UK leaves the EU. If you are VAT registered, you must use Postponed VAT accounting to account for your import VAT. If you are not VAT registered, you will pay your import VAT by another means.
If you are using TSP for controlled goods, you will need to complete a simplified frontier declaration and provide your haulier with a Movement Reference Number/ Entry Number, your UK EORI number and the excise eAD or ARC if available. Once the haulier notifies you that the goods have arrived in the UK you must update your simplified frontier declaration to show their arrival time by the end of the next working day of the following month. You must submit your supplementary declaration by the fourth working day of the following month. Your duty deferment account will be debited after you have submitted your supplementary declaration. If you are VAT registered, you must use Postponed VAT accounting to account for our import VAT. If you are not VAT registered you will pay your import VAT with your customs or excise duties.
More details on how to submit a supplementary declaration under TSP can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-declarations-using-transitional-simplified-procedures#standard-goods-procedure.