Trading and moving goods from the EU to the UK if the UK leaves the EU with no deal

You’ll need to follow most of the same rules as traders importing goods with the rest of the world.

If you bring goods into the UK from the EU there are actions you should take before and after you’ve imported the goods. This applies to:

  • importers
  • freight forwarders
  • fast parcel operators
  • customs agents
  • traders who move their own goods

This guidance does not apply to moving goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Sign up for EU Exit email alerts to find out when we publish new guidance about this.

Before you bring goods into the UK

Getting started

  1. Get an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number that starts with GB.
  2. Decide if you want to make customs declarations yourself or get help.
  3. If you’re making declarations yourself, you’ll have to get software to use the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight system.
  4. You may need to buy specialist software to use simplified procedures.
  5. You could be entitled to financial help to help your business complete customs declarations.
  6. If you already have authorisations to use special or simplified procedures check if they still apply.
  7. If you do not already use simplified customs procedures, find out if you can register to use transitional simplified procedures. This can make it easier for you to import goods from the EU.
  8. Check whether any duty relief schemes apply – these let you pay less (or no) duty on imports.

Prepare the information for your declaration

  1. Find the commodity code for your goods. This will tell you the rate of duty and VAT you’ll need to pay, if a licence is required and if your goods are covered by certain other measures.
  2. Value your goods to work out the amount of customs duty you’ll need to pay.
  3. If you use roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel you will not be able to complete customs formalities when goods arrive in the UK. This means you must make your customs declaration before checking your goods onto the ferry or train on the EU side.
  4. Check the rules if you’re importing excise duty suspended goods.

Merchandise in baggage

If you import goods in baggage or a small motor vehicle for your business, before you bring the goods into the UK you should:

  • complete a customs declaration
  • check how to pay import duty and VAT

Importing animal, plant, and other controlled products

You’ll still be able to import animals, animal products, food and feed into the UK whether from the EU or elsewhere but the import notification process is different.

Although plants and plant products will still be imported freely into the UK they will become ‘regulated commodities’ and subject to UK import controls.

If you import fish you’ll need a catch certificate and supporting documents validated by the country of export.

When your goods arrive

  1. Make your customs declaration if you’re doing this yourself. You’ll need to use the UK Trade Tariff volume 3 to help you complete the declaration.
  2. If you’re using a haulage company, confirm with them that you’ve made a customs declaration before departure by giving them either your movement reference or EORI number.
  3. You’ll need to pay customs duty even if you decide to account for import VAT on your VAT Return. If you’re a UK VAT-registered importer you can account for import VAT on your VAT Return rather than pay when, or soon after, goods arrive at the UK border. There will also be changes to the way you pay or reclaim VAT if the UK leaves EU-wide VAT IT systems.

Moving goods under transit

If your goods are moved under transit arrangements, there are fewer border checks and you won’t need separate import declarations. You’ll need to provide:

There are 3 goods under transit systems:

Stay up to date

Sign up to HMRC’s EU Exit update service to find out about new tariffs, implications for VAT on imports and exports, and what new customs checks will impact on the supply chain.

Further information and help and support

All the information provided here is meant for guidance only and you should consider whether you need separate professional advice on how these arrangements could affect your business.

We’ve also produced a series of videos about trading with the EU if the UK leaves with no deal.

Prepare your business or organisation for the UK leaving the EU.

Published 24 February 2019
Share this article