Doing Business with Europe: Export Procedures and Customs

The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union on 31 October 2019 meaning our relationship with the EU will be changing. With the deadline marching ever closer, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, Enterprise Europe Network and the Department for International Trade recently invited businesses to attend a series of events focusing on the UK’s changing relationship with Europe and how it might affect them.

As a result, the following checklist has been drawn from the expert advice of Chamber International and logistics specialists Advanced Supply Chain Group. This checklist by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership is designed to highlight key points that businesses might want to consider.

  • How to deal with delays at the ports

If there is no deal made when the UK leaves the EU, there may be delays at ports such as Dover. To avoid these potential delays, consider stockpiling stock, particularly during the months immediately after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

  • Consider becoming an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)

AEO status is not necessary for small businesses but check if your freight forwarder is AEO accredited as this will facilitate changes to procedures for you. Talk to them to get expert advice and understand how they will mitigate disruption. If you do decide to apply, the application process is rather complex and can take up to 12 months, so if this is of interest, you should act now.

  • Consider your route to market

Consider switching to a different and potentially less busy port for exporting. For perishable items for example, consider switching to airfreight. Larger companies may want to consider a bonded warehouse so customs are cleared at the destination. Do take into account extra costs associated with the new route.

  • Talk to your suppliers, customers and freight forwarder

Consult suppliers and customers to find out how time critical your import and exports are. If necessary, consider if you could source parts in the UK rather than importing them. Talk to your freight forwarder about what arrangements they have in place to facilitate the movement of goods.

  • WTO terms and tariffs

If there is no deal made when the UK leaves the EU, the UK will revert to WTO trade terms, so take time now to consider what extra costs you would need to account for and decide if a contingency needs to be written into your supplier and customer contracts.

  • Staffing and other resources

New customs arrangements will likely require you to provide new paperwork with all your shipments, so consider now if you should be recruiting more staff (or upskilling existing ones) to handle paperwork and/or updating your IT systems to accommodate new forms.

  • Audit and review what export and import forms your might need

Find out now what paperwork you may need. Make sure all your paperwork is precise and correct and that it is being completed by a trained member of staff or external expert. You will need, as a minimum, a commercial invoice with Incoterms, packing list and trading document for all exports. Your Chamber of Commerce, freight forwarder or International Trade Adviser can give you further advice.

  • VAT and duties

Rules regarding the payment of VAT may well change as the UK leaves the EU. Update yourself on what and when you need to pay.

  • If unsure, ask for advice

As the situation is changing by the day, it’s important that you have the right information to be able to act upon it. If you are unsure, seek advice from professionals, trade bodies or Government helplines. Get in touch today. You can also contact your local Chamber of Commerce who can facilitate paperwork.