Guidance

Importing excise goods to the UK from the EU from 1 January 2021

From 1 January 2021, there will be changes to how you import and declare excise goods (alcohol, tobacco and certain oils).

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

From 1 January 2021, imports of excise goods from the EU to Great Britain will be treated the same as imports from the rest of the world. This includes moving imported excise goods within Great Britain.

There may be different rules in respect of Northern Ireland movements after transition. These will be published at a later date.

Importing excise goods

If your excise goods are dispatched from an EU member state from 1 January 2021, you must complete a customs declaration and use the relevant customs procedures when they arrive at the place they enter into Great Britain.

You can use Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP) to import some excise goods such as alcohol and tobacco. All other excise goods are excluded from using CFSP.

This means you’ll be able to transport your goods into Great Britain without having to make a full customs declaration in advance.

To use a simplified declaration for imports you’ll need:

From 1 January 2021, you’ll not be able to use the following to import excise duty paid goods into Great Britain:

  • a Simplified Accompanying Administrative Document (SAAD)
  • EU distance-selling arrangements

You’ll need to complete a customs declaration and use the relevant customs procedures when they arrive at the place they enter Great Britain.

Moving imported excise duty suspended goods within Great Britain

You must use the Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS) to move excise duty suspended goods from the place they enter into Great Britain to their final destination.

You’ll need to appoint a registered consignor to move the goods, or become a registered consignor.

The registered consignor must complete and submit an electronic administrative document (eAD) through EMCS before the movement takes place. This will generate a unique Administrative Reference Code (ARC) for that specific movement. The code must travel with the goods at all times.

You’ll need to supply the person accompanying the goods (for example, the driver of the vehicle transporting the goods) with a printed version of the eAD or any other commercial document which clearly states the ARC.

Once the goods are received and checked into the excise warehouse, the warehousekeeper receiving them (the consignee) will:

  • confirm that the goods have arrived
  • complete and submit a ‘report of receipt’

Where goods are entering Great Britain through border locations that do not have existing customs control systems, you will have until the end of the next working day to notify HMRC that the goods have entered the country.

In this scenario the entry to EMCS may also be delayed until the end of the next working day. This is on the condition that you enter the excise movement guarantee reference on the customs import declaration.

When you complete the eAD, you’ll need to tick the ‘deferred movement’ box to indicate this is a retrospective declaration.

Become a registered consignor

If you want to become a registered consignor, you’ll need to:

It can take up to 45 days to register, so you should appoint someone who is already a registered consignor to move your goods whilst your application is being approved.

If your goods are dispatched on or before 31 December 2020 but received from 1 January 2021

You do not need to complete a customs declaration or pay customs duty in Great Britain if:

  • the goods are travelling under a recognised excise scheme at that time
  • you can show that the movement started on or before 31 December 2020

The import requirements and any sanctions that may apply to these goods will be based on UK excise legislation and duty points that apply at the time the movement from the EU started.

HMRC or Border Force may ask for evidence of the date and time your goods were dispatched. You can show this by providing:

If you cannot prove the date and time your goods were dispatched, the movement will be treated in the same way as one that started from 1 January 2021 and customs import procedures will apply.

Guidance about closing movements that started on or before 31 December but received from 1 January 2021 will be published at a later date.

Published 9 October 2019
Last updated 20 October 2020 
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