If the UK leaves the EU without any deal on 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020), the UK will be considered a third country for customs purposes in the EU, and you will have to make import and export declarations.
You need to consider if you need or wish to take any action if you’re taking your sports team, performing arts group or production, exhibition, or creative samples to the EU temporarily, because everybody moving goods across borders is subject to customs procedures.
You can read about trading with the EU if there’s no Brexit deal for guidance for importers and exporters of goods. It applies to everyone who will be moving objects in and out of the UK to the EU – even if the movement is for non-commercial purposes, or if the movement is temporary.
If you’re intending to take items temporarily to and from the EU for cultural, creative or sporting activities there will be certain processes you may wish to consider using before, during, and after your trip.
This guidance is not exhaustive, and it is not to be taken as legal guidance, because it cannot take account of your specific circumstances.
This guidance will apply if you’re a small arts organisation, creative business or sports organisation that currently travels only to the EU, such as:
- touring professional choir
- touring chamber orchestra
- touring string quartet
- small touring ballet company
- small touring theatre company
- school football team
- amateur sports team
- pop or rock band
If you’re involved in larger arts organisations, creative businesses, and sports organisations, you are more likely to be aware of any potential changes and have measures in place, however, the guidance still applies.
Questions to consider before your trip
You might wish to consider:
- do you know exactly what you are taking with you and its value? You might need to be able to identify all your items to the customs authorities, and you will need to know their value for customs declarations. Read how to value items for UK customs purposes
- do you know about the customs processes in the country you are travelling to? Most countries have procedures for temporary admission of goods. Read about the processes for temporary admission of goods to the UK, which might be similar to processes in other countries
- do you wish to engage a customs intermediary (such as a broker or a freight forwarder) to help you plan your journeys and navigate customs procedures? If you do, it might be worth asking them about the suitability and cost-effectiveness of the procedures involved
There are several procedures that might make UK customs more straightforward for you:
- consider if you could use a ‘declaration by conduct’ or ‘oral declaration’ (involving a paper form). Depending on your circumstances, these may be more straightforward and cost-effective than a full written customs declaration. However, ‘oral declaration’ might take longer at the border
- consider if you could you use an ATA Carnet – an international customs document that allows you to temporarily import commercial samples, professional equipment or goods going to either a trade fair or exhibition. If you do not have an ATA Carnet you must go through each country’s customs procedures for the temporary admission of goods. The ATA Carnet simplifies those formalities because you use a single document for clearing goods through customs in countries that are part of the ATA Carnet system. You might find it to be convenient depending on your circumstances. This is particularly likely to be the case if you are travelling to more than one customs territory. Read guidance about the ATA Carnet from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry which is the UK authority for these
- if you intend to bring the items back into the UK, make sure you have proof that the items were here before you took them abroad, otherwise you may be taxed on re-entry. The best proof is a copy of an export declaration, but other documents may be accepted on a discretionary basis. Read guidance on the best types of proof for exporting goods that will return
- check if anything you are taking abroad contains material from species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). If it does, you should check you have the necessary licences. Read guidance on CITES and the section for Businesses and individuals moving endangered species between the UK and the EU in this partnership pack
- consider your obligations if you’re taking any firearms abroad (for example, for sporting or theatrical purposes) Read guidance on firearms import and export control rules for the UK
- consider if any of the objects you are moving are ‘objects of cultural interest’ or ‘cultural’ goods. If they are, you should check whether you will need a licence to take them out of the UK. Read guidance on the current procedures and the technical notice on Exporting objects of cultural interest if there’s no Brexit deal
On and after your return: can you claim tax relief?
If you are returning to the UK with objects that you took with you from the UK and that remain unchanged, you should consider whether you can claim ‘returned goods relief’. This means that you do not have to pay tax on the value of these goods when returning them into the UK.
To claim this relief, you will need proof that you took these goods out from the UK in the first place. The best proof is a copy of your export declaration, but customs authorities may discretionarily accept other forms of proof. Read the procedures for claiming returned goods relief.
You should be aware that if you are returning with goods that have been travelling with you under an ATA Carnet, it is important to have your Carnet counter-foils stamped on your return to the UK. If you don’t, you may be pursued for tax due on their import.
Actions you can take now
- Consider any changes you may need to make to adapt to new processes and systems.
- The passport rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) without a deal. Read the government’s guidance on Travelling to the EU with a UK passport if there’s no Brexit deal and, if relevant, ensure your employees and customers are aware of the potential changes.
- Stay up-to-date with these changes by registering for email alerts. Follow the link, add your email address, select ‘submit’, select ‘Add subscription’ and choose ‘EU Exit’ then select ‘Submit’.