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Brexit Essentials Series: Part 2 – Customs

Today we continue our Brexit Essentials Series, which over three instalments, will cover all the important tax, customs, and customer communications changes as a result of Brexit.

In part 1, we discussed taxation changes which you can read here. Part 2 below covers changes to customs arrangements.

In addition to this series, we’ll be participating in special Brexit webinar with taxation specialists Avalara and delivery gurus Shipstation in late April. If you’d like to join, sign up for our newsletter and we’ll let you know when details are available!

Newspaper with Get Ready For Brexit headline

Our Brexit Essentials Series: here to help you manage all the changes.

UK government Brexit Checker.

If you haven’t already reviewed the UK Government’s Brexit Checker (flagged in our last Brexit Essentials post on taxation) it’s worth doing so now. This hub of information outlines the new rules on things like exports, imports, tariffs, data and hiring. The checker will create a personalised list of actions for you, based on the answers you provide to a series of questions.

You can find the Brexit Checker here.

UK government customs checklist.

In addition to the overall Brexit Checker, the government also provides a guide to getting UK customs clearance when exporting goods.

This step by step guide covers the following topics and provides links to further information on:

  • setting up your business for exports,
  • checking if you can make the customs process quicker,
  • declaring goods for export,
  • getting goods across the UK border, and
  • getting goods released if they’re held up at the UK border.

Find the checklist government customs checklist here.

Perfecting your paper trail: post-Brexit customs documentation.

Along with changes to VAT and taxes, UK merchants selling to customers based in the EU also need to factor in new customs arrangements. This may include:

Organising your UK and EU EORI numbers.

EORI (Economic Operator Registration Identification) numbers are unique ID codes for each exporter and are used to track the movement of products between nations. This enables customs authorities in both the sending and receiving nations to quickly and easily identify different shipments and their origins.

Before Brexit, your UK issued EORI number was accepted on customs declarations by the EU for sales to consumers in the EU but that’s no longer the case. You now need two EORI numbers (and possibly three):

  • UK EORI. If you’re already VAT-registered in the UK you should have a UK EORI (starts with GB) from HMRC. If not, however, you can apply for one online here.
  • EU EORI. You can apply for an EU EORI number yourself or through a tax specialist like Avalara. More details can be found here.
  • Northern Ireland EORI. You may also need an EORI number for Northern Ireland (starts with XI) if you’re moving goods with Northern Ireland and non-EU countries (including Great Britain).
HM Revenue & Customs office

Reviewing the government advice: the Brexit Checker and customs checklist.

Getting your customs declarations in order.

Upon exiting the European Union, the UK also left the EU Customs Regime which means that any UK merchants now selling goods between the UK and EU must complete a customs declarations.

Managing it yourself.

If you’re managing the customs process yourself, the website provides a step by step breakdown of how to get UK customs clearance when exporting goods here.

Most countries require the following information on their customs declarations: your VAT registration number, your EORI number, the commodity code (also known as the harmonised or HS number), country of origin, the amount of VAT collected, and the total value of each item in the shipment.

Third-party assistance.

Should you find the customs clearance process too complicated, you can hire a third party to make the export declaration and get your goods through UK customs. There are three options:

  • Customs agent or broker. They specifically manage just the customs process and can ensure your goods clear through customs.
  • Fast parcel operators. As the name suggests, these operators move documents, parcels and freight anywhere in the world. They can also manage the customs process on your behalf as part of their overall parcel service.
  • Freight forwarders. Along with moving goods for importers, freight forwarders can also arrange to clear your goods through customs.

For more information, review the guidance here.

Identifying the correct commodity code and adding it to Shopify.

To ensure your goods move swiftly through customs, you need to add the correct commodity code (also known as a Harmonised Systems or HS codes) for each product you are exporting. This code identifies the amount of VAT and tariffs you need to pay.

These codes can be found on the World Customs Organisation website here. Tax specialists Avalara also provide background information on the classification system here.

Once you have identified the correct commodity code, simply add it and the country of origin to the Shopify admin using the bulk editor or import them with a CSV file.

Port showing shipping containers

Get your commodity codes correct for smooth sailing through customs.

Conquering customs for a seamless transition.

So now we’ve covered all the key customs changes following Brexit – organising EORI numbers, sorting your custom declarations, and identifying your commodity codes. If you’re needing further information, do review the official government guidance as a starting point. Then, where appropriate, a customs specialist can assist with advice tailored to your business.

In the next and final part of this series, we’ll cover the all important customer communications aspect of Brexit changes. Subscribe to our social channels to be alerted as soon as posts go live.

Need more help with Brexit changes?

If you’ve got more questions on how Brexit impacts your eCommerce site, don’t despair! We’re participating in an upcoming Brexit webinar with tax specialists Avalara and shipping experts Shipstation in late April (date to be confirmed). We would love for you to join us!

Fancy joining us? Simply sign up for our newsletter in the footer and we’ll send you details later this month.


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