News & Insights

Countdown to Brexit: 47 Days - UK mobilises contingency planning for a No-Deal Brexit

11 Feb 2019

UK Government contingency plans – codename “Project After” - could cut UK taxes and tariff levels in a no-deal. Cabinet Secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, is overseeing the work as the chances of MPs backing Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement next week.

It comes against the backdrop of the Netherlands Government announcing a further 250 companies are moving to Amsterdam.

Among the UK plans being considered to reverse the flow of business and commerce out of Britain after 29 March are: cuts to corporation tax and VAT to encourage more business investment; reducing tariffs; and export support.

In parallel, the Government’s “Project Bluebell” is looking at how specific sectors such as agriculture, car manufacturing and pharmaceuticals could be protected in a no-deal Brexit.

Theresa May is legally bound to put the results of her attempts to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement to MPs next Thursday – but has returned from Brussels and Ireland without making any progress. MPs will then be entitled to vote on a series of different options for the way forward in the Commons.

In a separate UK Government ‘no-deal Technical Notice” – updated on 4 February - hauliers will be able to bring goods into the UK without facing checks at the border in a bid to avoid traffic jams for a temporary period.

The guidance says that companies will be expected to make customs declarations and to disclose safety and security information ahead of travelling to Britain from 29 March. The special arrangement - which will affect goods coming in to 20 ports around the country - is expected to last for up to six months.

“For a temporary period, HMRC will allow most goods moving from the listed roll on roll off locations to leave the UK port or train station before you’ve told us that the goods have arrived.

“If you’ve submitted either a full declaration or a simplified frontier declaration, you must tell us as soon as possible when the goods arrive in the UK.”

The list of official roll-on, roll-off locations includes Dover, Folkestone, Liverpool and Hull.

Ferry operators and Channel Tunnel officials meanwhile will need to have “reasonable belief” that customers have made the necessary declarations in advance of their journey – such as by requesting it as part of their terms and conditions. “You’ll need to show the booking to HMRC if we ask for it,” the document states.

On the other side of the Channel, the European Commission is also ramping up contingency planning – with provisional agreement reached yesterday on realigning the North Sea–Mediterranean Corridor and investing in the adaptation of transport infrastructure for security and border checks – “taking into account the withdrawal of the United Kingdom”.

The European Parliament and the Council reached agreement on the European Commission's proposal to adjust alignment of the one of the nine “core corridors” of the Trans-European Transport Network.

The Regulation adds:

a new maritime link between the Irish core ports of Dublin, Cork and Shannon to the core network ports in France (Le Havre, Calais, Dunkirk), Belgium (Zeebrugge, Antwerp, Gent) and the Netherlands (Terneuzen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam).

a new funding priority to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) - adapting transport infrastructure for security and external border check purposes.

These measures will only apply in case the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU without an agreement.

The risk is that the two sides are creating a self-fulfilling scenario. The UK and EU are each building up a head of steam heading for a no-deal Brexit – creating a momentum that it may soon be impossible to stop – no matter that the majority of politicians don’t want a damaging no-deal Brexit on 29 March.

Background

Moving goods to and from the EU through roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel: arrangements for importers or exporters, using roll on roll off ports or the Channel Tunnel to transport goods between the EU and the UK in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Overview

In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal: from 23:00 GMT on 29 March 2019, UK businesses will need to apply the same processes when trading with the EU trade that already apply when trading with the rest of the world.

importers using Roll on Roll off locations will have to submit customs declarations and pay any customs duty, excise duty or VAT that’s due.

Importing to the UK from the EU

Be ready to make customs declarations and follow other customs rules for the goods you import.

If you’re importing through a roll on roll off listed location, make your customs declaration before checking your goods onto the ferry or train on the EU side - you cannot complete customs formalities when your goods arrive in the UK.

The main customs form used in international trade is the “Single Administrative Document”. This can be submitted electronically.

Before 29 March 2019, you’ll need to:

Making customs declarations before your goods leave the EU

Make your declaration before you check-in. You can register to use transitional simplified procedures to:

  • transport your goods into the UK without having to make a full customs declaration at the port;
  • make a more detailed declaration later (a supplementary declaration);
  • defer paying your duty.

Once registered make either:

  • a simplified frontier declaration (an electronic declaration submitted to HMRC); or
  • an entry in your own records of when the goods are crossing the border.

Both of these declarations ask for less information upfront compared to a full customs declaration. If you’re importing controlled or restricted goods you’ll only be able to use a full declaration or a simplified frontier declaration.

Customs declarations can be changed up until the point of check-in at the ferry or train at the departure port.

You may be asked to confirm that you’ve completed a declaration as part of the terms and conditions when booking your transport or at check-in.

You’ll get a unique master reference number when you complete either a full customs declaration or a simplified frontier declaration.

Confirm with your haulage company that you’ve made a customs declaration before departure by giving them either the:

  • master reference number (to show you’ve made a full or simplified frontier customs declaration); or
  • your EORI number if you’ve made an entry in your own records.

Hauliers may be asked to show the master reference number or your EORI number to prove a declaration is in place.

When your goods arrive in the UK

For a temporary period, HMRC will allow most goods moving from the listed roll on roll off locations to leave the UK port or train station prior to being informed that the goods have arrived. If you’ve submitted either a full declaration or a simplified frontier declaration, you must tell HMRC as soon as possible when the goods arrive in the UK.

Update declarations using your software application - or empower your agent can do this for you - no later than the end of the working day after the goods’ arrival in the UK.

If you’ve used an entry in your records - update your records to show the actual time the goods arrived in the UK.

For both the simplified frontier declaration and entry in your own records: submit a supplementary declaration (a more detailed declaration) by the fourth working day of the month after your goods’ arrival in the UK.

If you have duties or taxes to pay, HMRC will take draw upon your direct debit on the 15th day of the month after the goods arrive in the UK.

Haulage companies - imports

When haulage companies - or someone acting for them - are accompanying goods through the border - for example, the driver accompanying the load on board the ferry - they have a responsibility to submit safety and security information through an Entry Summary Declaration before the goods arrive in the UK.

For roll on roll off ports you must submit the declaration at least 2 hours before the goods are due to arrive in the UK.

For Eurotunnel you must submit the declaration at least 1 hour before check-in at Coquelles - this is because the UK border is actually crossed in France.

As well as submitting an Entry Summary Declaration you should carry either:

  • a master reference number to show that you’ve made a full or simplified frontier customs declaration; or
  • the EORI number of the importer if the importer made an entry in their own records.

The importer or their customs agent will give these to you.

Ferry operators and the Channel Tunnel operator - imports

If you’re a ferry operator or Channel Tunnel operator you must have reasonable belief that your customers have made the customs declarations.

You can do this through your terms and conditions that your customers use when booking their transport.

You’ll need to show the booking to HMRC if we ask for it.

For goods that are accompanied by a haulier – the haulier is responsible for submitting the Entry Summary Declaration (the safety and security declaration) before the goods leave the EU.

There’s no obligation for the ferry or Channel Tunnel operator to confirm that this declaration has been submitted.

Where goods are unaccompanied - for example goods on trailers or in containers - the ferry operator is responsible for submitting the Entry Summary Declaration before the goods leave the EU.

You must include the trailer or container number on the declaration.

Exporting

If you’re exporting goods from the UK from a roll on roll off listed location to the EU, you or your customs agent must complete a combined safety and security and customs declaration before the goods get to the departure port. You’ll be able to do this using the National Export System.

If you do this yourself, you will need to enter the correct customs duty tariffs.

You must include the vehicle registration number of the vehicle to be used to transport your goods on the declaration. Ask the company that’s exporting your goods (usually a haulier) for the number.

You need this so that you can complete the combined export and safety and security declaration in full.

If your goods are being transported unaccompanied on a trailer or in a container you must include the trailer or container number on your declaration.

You’ll need to:

Once you’ve submitted the combined customs and safety and security declaration HMRC will send you a notification that:

  • allows you to proceed;
  • asks for additional documentation;
  • asks you to make sure the haulier or driver transports your goods to a Designated Export Place or authorised premises, so that we can make customs checks before we give you clearance.

If you’re exporting high risk goods, you must give HMRC a full departure message so that we can complete the export and account for any duty refund or discharge any liability. You can do this by either:

  • submitting online forms to HMRC along with evidence of export;
  • arranging for an appropriate third party intermediary to update HMRC IT systems.

This article first appeared on the website of Brexit Partners (www.brexit-partners.com).

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