top of page
  • Writer's pictureab consulting

UK Government Guidance on operation of the Border with the EU

The UK Government have now published their guidance document on the operation of the UK Border with the EU from 01 January 2021.

It should be noted that this document only relates to trade between Great Britain and the EU. Further guidance is expected in the next weeks on how the border in Northern Ireland will operate.

The guidance document published by the UK Government is a useful guide for companies in understanding what they need to do in preparation for the end of the transition period, in the same way the European Commissions Communication document last week was (see our post on this here)

The guidance issued by HMRC is over 200 pages. It is important that any company that will be importing to Great Britain review the document in detail to understand the obligations it imposes on importers/exporters.

Key actions recommended now by the UK

The UK Government is recommending traders take a number of key actions as soon as possible (in order to be prepared for the end of the transition period on the 31st December 2020):

  • Apply for a GB EORI number

  • Get a Customs Intermediary to undertake customs clearance on your behalf

  • Apply for a Duty Deferment Account

  • Prepare to Pay or Account for VAT on Imported goods

  • Determine the tariff classification of your products

  • Understand your obligations as an importer and/or exporter

  • Engage with your supply chains to determine the impacts and how they will work post the transition period

  • For excise traders whishing to use excise duty suspension, apply to be a registered consignor

  • For businesses exporting excise goods, register for EMCS

  • Review your contracts to understand what additional actions are needed based on agreed INCOTERMs

Timeline for key changes outlined by the UK

The document outlines the timelines for the changes at the different stages.

These are:

From January 2021

  • Basic customs requirements will need to be met for all goods, such as keeping sufficient records of imported goods and importers will need to determine how they will account for and pay import VAT. This gives importers 6 months to complete customs declarations and pay import duties

  • Controlled goods and excise goods will need full customs declarations from this time

  • Export Declarations and exit Safety and Security declarations will be needed from this time

From April 2021

  • All products of animal origin and all regulated plants and plant products will need pre-notification and health documentation

  • Physical checks on products of animal origin and regulated plants and plant products will be done at the point of destination

From July 2021

  • All imports will require a full customs declaration along with the payment of import duties at the point of import

  • Full Safety and Security declarations will be needed

  • Products subject to sanitary and phytosanitary controls will need to be presented to Border Control Posts

  • Physical checks on products of animal origin and regulated plants and plant products will be done at Border Control Posts


It is important for companies to understand that this is the beginning of a new trading reality, and not simply a moment in time change on the 1st of January 2021 and preparing for this promptly is critical. The UK Governement document contains a lot of detail and it is important that traders importing to the UK take time to review it for the areas relevant to their business.

If you have any questions on how your company may be affected by the above changes, how you commence planning for and implementing these or any other changes, contact us at

117 views0 comments


bottom of page