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Brexit Import & Export Changes from 1 January 2021

With the UK’s exit from the EU from 1 January 2021, goods will cease being treated as moved between the EU but between countries worldwide. The implications of this are large: arrivals and dispatches will instead be treated as imports and exports, Brexit import and export declarations will need to be made and a EORI number will be needed, to name a few.

It is important that you act now as you won’t be able to trade with the EU from 1 January 2021 if you don’t have the correct processes in place. Apart from the tariffs, these requirements are applicable whether the UK government secures a free trade agreement or not.

5 things to consider when preparing to import/export

  1. EORI number

You’ll need an EORI number that starts with GB to transfer goods between the UK and the EU. If you already have an EORI number you will need to check that it starts with GB and get a new one if not. You can apply for an EORI number online at

  • Import/export license

You’ll need to check if the goods are controlled and thus whether you need an import/export license. Such goods include food, livestock and medicine; the full list can be found at

  • Tariffs

From 1 January 2021 the UK will apply a UK specific tariff to imported goods called the UK Global Tariff (UKGT). The UKGT will apply to all imported goods unless the country you’re importing from has a trade agreement with the UK. The list of trade agreements can be found at You check the tariffs that will apply at

  • CHIEF system

If you chose to complete customs declarations yourself (as opposed to engaging a customs intermediary) you will need CHIEF compatible software and a CHIEF badge. You can apply for a CHIEF badge online at

  • Customs declaration
    • Importing

The following table illustrates the main options for importing your goods from the EU into the UK (asterisk denotes tasks undertaken by the customs intermediary if you use one – customs declarations are complicated and require specialist skill, it is highly recommended engaging a customs intermediary):

 Deferred declarationStandard importSimplified declaration
Reporting requirementsSupplementary declaration 6 months after import*Full customs declaration once the goods arrive in the UK*Supplementary declaration by the 4th day of the following month after the goods arrive in the UK*
Simplified declarationsMust be authorised*Not availableMust be authorised*
Customs dutyPay after submitting the supplementary declarationPay after submitting the customs declaration (unless you have a duty deferment account)Pay after submitting the supplementary declaration
Duty deferment accountMust be authorised  Can be authorisedMust be authorised
Import VAT – VAT registeredMust use postponed VAT accountingCan use postponed VAT accountingCan use postponed VAT accounting
Import VAT – not VAT registeredPay after submitting the supplementary declarationPay after submitting the supplementary declarationPay after submitting the supplementary declaration
Simplified frontier declarationNoNoSubmitted with CHIEF before the goods leave the EU
CHIEF badge and CHIEF compatible softwareYes*Yes*Yes*
Goods typeStandardStandard and controlledStandard and some controlled

In addition to these 3 options, there is a 4th main option called transit which you can use if you are moving goods through multiple territories. However, the stages for transit are numerous and complicated and won’t be included in this article.

  • Exporting

Standard export

As with importing you can choose to use a customs intermediary to make your declarations. If you don’t use a customs intermediary you will need to:

  • Make declarations online using National Export System (NES)
  • Register for NES
  • Apply for a CHIEF badge and get CHIEF compatible software
  • Complete an export declaration

Again, transit is available for exporting but the details won’t be included in this article.

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