This is the starting point for advice about exporting goods from Britain to countries in the European Union from January 2021, including a checklist of actions to consider.
From January, businesses will need to make customs declarations when exporting goods to the EU. Details of how to do this yourself are here, and guidance for getting others—like freight forwarders or customs agents—to do the job for you is here.
Rules on the exports of books from January will not change, though licences will be needed for some other goods. Customers can be charged VAT at 0%.
Businesses that export goods to the EU will need an EORI number from January. All businesses should have been contacted to arrange this, but you can obtain one easily here. If you already have an EORI but it does not start with GB, you will need to obtain a new one.
Export partners in EU countries will also need to be ready for changes from January, and be sure they can make any necessary import customs declarations.
Advice for accounting for VAT on services—including digital—from January is here.
If you are selling books to VAT-registered businesses in EU countries, paperwork should designate the customer as the importer. This means the customer is responsible for dealing with VAT issues. Distributors should handle the appropriate designation on your behalf; check with them if you have any doubt.
If you are selling books to non-VAT registered individuals in the EU, you may need to check the VAT rate on books in the relevant country. If any VAT is due in that country, you may choose to register for VAT there—though this is often impractical for businesses selling in small volumes, and you may wish to obtain specialist advice.
If you sell only small volumes of exports to the EU, many couriers and parcel operators can make customs declarations for you. The Royal Mail will provide self-declaration stickers for parcels if the value is below £900.
You may need to familiarise yourself with rules of origin, which establish the source of imported and exported goods and help to show where customs duty applies. Government guidance is here and a guide from the European Commission is here. There is a more practical guide to securing preferential tariffs, and a short video explainer about rules of origin.
Specific guidance for moving goods into—or out of or via—Northern Ireland is here. A Trader Support Service is available to help with changes in Northern Ireland. It can complete customs declarations for you, and has useful ‘how to’ guides, online training and webinars.
The government has separate guidance about exporting goods to countries outside the European Union.
Commodity or customs codes on products in ONIX have caused some confusion, and EDItEUR has provided some useful guidance to common issues here. If your ONIX feeds are handled by a platform provider, they should be able to help you with any updates that are required.
General advice about exporting is available from the Department for International Trade. Details of local trade offices are here, and you can make direct contact with advisers here.
The SME Brexit Support Fund was set up to help small and medium sized businesses adjust to new export procedures. Grants of up to £2,000 will pay for support including training and advice on customs processes and declarations. Submissions are not yet open, but basic information about the scheme is here.
The DIT has run a series of webinars to help exporters prepare for transition-related changes. Details of forthcoming ones are here, and you can watch a previous webinar again here.
For specific enquiries about exports and customs, businesses can contact advisers via email, webchat or phone. Details are here.
These questions may help your preparations on exports.
- Have your distributors, sales vendors and third party agents in the European Union and further afield made appropriate contingency plans for export challenges in 2021?
- Have you agreed future protocols and working relationships with third parties overseas?
- Does your business have a valid EORI?
- Are you comfortable with the procedures around customs declarations?