Guide to Exporting to the EU from January 1st 2021

The UK reached a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with the EU which came into effect on January 1st 2021. Under the terms of the TCA, certain goods can be traded between the UK and EU free of tariffs and quotas. Both imports and exports are now subject to border controls and require additional documentation, to leave or enter the UK.

Since the new procedures came into effect, there have been numerous examples of problems and delays with UK goods being cleared for export. This is primarily due to the fact that all the new necessary documentation has not been provided to facilitate export clearance.

The following guide to exporting to the EU highlights the key requirements going forward. These points are applicable to export shipments from the UK to the EU. This should help ensure exports are correctly declared when leaving the UK and proceed smoothly without customs delays.  These tips should also make sure the importer in the EU country does not pay any unnecessary import duty;

  • Exporters must have an EORI number.
  • The EU Importer must have their own domestic EORI (or equivalent) number.
  • UK Export declarations are now required for all exports. The exporter will either need to arrange these themselves, or engage an intermediary (agent) to arrange the declaration on their behalf.
  • Commercial Invoices are required for all exports of commercial goods. The Commercial Invoice is the most important export document and must contain all the necessary information and details of the transaction. This should include a preferential origin declaration in order for the goods to be imported in the EU destination country tariff free, providing the goods meet the applicable origin rules contained in the TCA.
    Exporters may “self-certify” goods origin without supplier declarations confirming material originating status, until December 31st 2021. It is however recommended that documentary records are held to support any self-certification. Supplier declarations to confirm material originating status will be mandatory from January 1st 2022.
  • Export licences may be required for controlled or dual use goods. Additional certificates are required for certain types of goods, such as plant and animal products.
  • Although originating goods can be imported in the EU countries free of tariffs (import duty), import VAT will be chargeable in the EU destination country.
  • The correct Incoterm must be used to clearly define whether the seller or buyer is responsible for arranging and paying for the transportation, insuring the goods, customs formalities and payment of duty (if applicable) & import VAT.
  • For road freight shipments to EU countries, exporters need to confirm that the haulier/forwarding agent can generate the necessary transit document. The absence of a transit document has been a very common cause for delays with export shipments, since January 1st 2021. It is also advisable to check that the haulier has all necessary permits and documents in place to move the goods from the UK. The latest guidance can be accessed here.
  • All exports to EU countries should be zero rated for VAT but exporters must hold proof of export in case of an audit.

We have been helping companies to export and import for more than 20 years and more recently, adjust to the new UK-EU trading relationship. We have accumulated extensive in-depth knowledge and experience, which means we can provide help and support, to guide you through the new procedures and ensure you correctly prepare all the necessary export documentation.

This brief guide to exporting to the EU should hopefully help highlight some key considerations. If you need further help to understand and implement new EU export processes, contact us to find out further details of how we can support you and your business.