Shipping post Brexit

Things to keep in mind as you prepare your first shipments after Brexit

With the beginning of the new year, the UK has officially left the European Union and the way UK businesses can trade with member states of the EU has changed as the cost, effort and associated time of moving goods between the EU and the UK has increased.

Like many other small businesses, you might be worried about what the new regulatory changes mean, how you can continue (or start) to access EU markets, and what to expect in terms of increased exporting costs. From registering your business with different entities, to making your way through export documentation, it may all seem a bit daunting at first. But don’t worry, we’re here to guide you every step of the way and have compiled a list of useful resources that demystify and explain common Brexit terms.

For a quick overview of what Brexit means for shipments between the UK, Northern Ireland, and EU countries, you can take a quick glance at our infographic:

1. Register for a (new) Economic Operator’s Registration and Identification number

You have probably come across this term quite a few times in the past months. The Economic Operator’s Registration and Identification (EORI) number is one of the most essential steps you need to take in order to access EU markets in a post Brexit world. The EORI number is a unique ID that tracks and registers customs information in the EU and it allows you to simplify your customs processes, prevent delays at the border and avoid incurring extra costs.

If you already have an EORI number, check your number and make sure it starts with GB, as this is a new requirement. If your number does not start with GB, you will need to apply for a new one.

Applying for a (new) EORI number is easy and only takes ten minutes, but note that it can take a few weeks to process.

Learn more about the EORI number in our EORI guide

2. Demystify Value Added Tax (VAT)

It’s important to understand the implications of Brexit on VAT. Who is liable for VAT payment depends on the incoterms and the payment terms of a shipment.

If you are exporting from the UK into the EU on your own behalf (e.g. incoterm Delivered Duty Paid), your business is liable for duty and import VAT, and if you are delivering directly to your customers, you will need an EU VAT registration.

You may wish to consider registering for VAT in the country of clearance. If you do not have an EU-based entity, you can do this through a fiscal representative. This is a service commonly offered by VAT consultants. If you do have an EU entity, then you can register yourself with the relevant local authority.

3. Appoint an Importer of Record (IOR) if the consignee is not the declarant

The IOR is responsible for your customs declarations and ensures all goods are correctly valued and documented, all taxes and duties are paid and all required documentation and permits are properly completed. As you are exporting to the EU this can either be an EU-based subsidiary, if they are part of the transaction, or an EU-based customs broker.

If you don’t have such kind of entity, you can obtain the required setup without the need for a physical entity in the country of destination by engaging a company that provides fiscal services. For example, EU VAT 1, VAT Global and Avalara provide such services and offer their own subject matter specialists and expertise in the tax field.

4. Familiarise yourself with the commercial invoice

If you’ve been exporting to countries outside of Europe, you should already be familiar with the commercial invoice, but if you have only shipped to EU countries before, this document may be new to you.

As soon as your shipment crosses customs borders (and after Brexit, this includes borders with the EU), you must include a commercial invoice.

The commercial invoice is one of the most important documents that must be provided by the person or business shipping items across international borders, as it describes the goods and their value to help determine the customs duties to be paid. To make filling out a customs invoice a little easier, we have prepared a visual guide explaining each section of the document.

Download the commercial invoice guide

If all of this sounds like a lot to remember, don’t worry – we have a bank of resources dedicated to helping businesses like yours prepare and feel more empowered after Brexit. You can also browse our European Parcel Delivery page to learn more about shipping to Europe, and the resources available in our International Delivery Content centre will help you master your first international shipment.

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