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How Brexit will (inevitably) impact your import/export activities


Brexit transport
Uncertainties due to Brexit continue to weigh on supply chain activities. However, some of the changes that will impact all import/export activities between Europe and the UK are already known. Let us review them together.

The United Kingdom has already withdrawn from the European Union.

In January 2020, the British House of Commons and the European Parliament ratified the agreement for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. This text provided for a transition period, which we are now in, allowing companies to maintain their usual practices. This transition period has not been extended and will come to an end on 31 December 2020.

European and British negotiators have so far failed to reach an agreement on the new relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom that will take effect from that date. However, whether a deal is signed by then or not will not change the fact the transition period will come to an end at the end of the year, together with the old tax and customs rules.

Customs formalities will affect you, your suppliers and your customers.

On 1 January 2020, if no agreement has been reached, your import or export activity with the UK will be governed by WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules. Customs formalities will therefore have to be carried out each time your products enter or leave the territory. Your customers or suppliers in the UK are subject to the same changes. These formalities can be carried out by the sender, the recipient or an intermediary.

For each exchange of goods you will have to file a customs declaration. This deposit can take place anywhere within the territory, not only at the border. In the case of export, this declaration will prove the physical exit of the goods from the EU and allows you to prove to the tax authorities that the goods have been sold tax-free.

At STEF, we are aware that carrying out these formalities is tedious and time-consuming for our clients. We know that your priority is your core business. For greater peace of mind, we offer you the possibility of delegating your customs formalities to us for the transport of your products. We will carry out these formalities for you, but also for your customers, via our registered customs representative (in French) partners, who will be present at our sites in France and the United Kingdom.

There is a risk that the movement of goods and people will slow down following the re-establishment of customs, sanitary, phytosanitary and veterinary formalities. In order to alleviate this, French customs have set up a cross-Channel "smart border" (in French). This system will make it possible to anticipate customs formalities, ensure product identification and traceability, and automate documentary checks.

Get ready now

In order to anticipate these changes we recommend you to:

  1. Read the documents on the Government (in French) or European Commission website.
  2. Raise awareness among your suppliers, intermediaries and customers.  
  3. Quickly start the registration process with Customs. 

We recommend that you register your company now to obtain an EORI number, in order to be able to access remote customs clearance services. You can do so online via the SOPRANO platform (in French), upon uploading of your company's registration document (French "extrait K-Bis" or equivalent). To find out more about the formalities, visit the website of the French Direction générale des douanes et droits indirects (in French).

Feel free to rely on our expertise when transporting your food products to or from the UK.

Get ready for Brexit with STEF