With the UK leaving the EU on the 31st December, the way you bring goods into the UK is changing. Below is the advice from HMRC on the things you should be doing as a business to ensure minimal disruption to your business. 

Make sure you have a GB EORI

You may already have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, but from the 1st January you will need this for custom declarations when moving goods between the UK and non-EU countries. You can register for an EORI number for free here, or you can ask your Goodwille Lead Contact to help you organise it. If you provide a service, or just move goods between Northern Ireland & Ireland, you do not need an EORI.

Start preparing to make customs declarations

It will become more difficult from the 1st January 2021 to bring goods into the UK, so if you have not already, you might want to engage a customs agents, freight forwarder or express operator to help you with declarations and ensure you’re prepared to start submitting the necessary information. This is not something that Goodwille will do. You may already have a partner helping you with this – you should check with your warehouse dispatch team, fulfilment centre or courier company initially.

Depending on whether there is a deal or not, the value and scale of tariffs, duties & quotas may vary.

If you are still unclear, you can find a list of customs agents here, or a list of fast parcel operators here. If you still need assistance, you can try these two options:

See if your imported goods are eligible for simplified, staged controls & get registered now

Many goods are eligible for staged controls, meaning you will be able to defer import declarations for up to 6 months after the 1st January 2021. The following goods are not eligible for staged controls.

  • excise goods other than alcohol and tobacco
  • controlled goods except for drugs
  • fuel
  • being used at the border
  • imported under ATA procedures
  • imported under special customs procedures
  • imported under authorisation by declaration

When you make a customs declaration on imports, you may be able to make a simplified declaration when your goods arrive at a UK or EU port or airport.


If you want to apply for simplified declarations, you will need to complete a C&E48 here to gain approval. As the form relates directly to the products being shipped, you should organise with your warehouse or freight forwarding company to complete and submit this application directly to HMRC.

Decide how you will account for import VAT when you make a customs declaration

From 1 January 2021, if your business is registered for VAT in the UK, you’ll be able to account for import VAT on your VAT Return for goods imported from anywhere in the world.

This means you will declare and recover import VAT on the same VAT Return, rather than having to pay it upfront and recover it later. You do not need to register, this will just become the new norm.

If Goodwille handles the VAT returns for you at present, we will take care of this for you when more information is announced. If you are handling your own VAT returns you can find out more information on the process here, or if you now need help with submitting VAT returns to HMRC please do not hesitate to contact us.

Check if Import VAT is due at the border

Import VAT will not be due at the border if goods in a consignment do not exceed £135 in value. The only exceptions will be excise goods and gifts. You can read more here, if you think this may be applicable to you.

Delay import declarations until July 2021, if your goods are NOT controlled

If you are bringing in controlled goods to the UK, you will need to complete declarations from the 1st January. If your goods are not controlled, you may choose to delay import declarations until July 2021.

Firstly, check if you goods are controlled here. If the goods are controlled, you should speak to your freight forwarded, customer agents or parcel operators as import declaration rules will apply from the 1st January 2021.

If the goods are not controlled, which will be for most of you, then you can record the goods in your own records without getting authorisation in advance, and account for them on your VAT returns – Goodwille will support you with this when more information is announced. As it stands, you will need to complete import declarations from July 2021, so it is good to get prepared with your freight forwarder or similar.

Review the tariff tables to see if your trade is impacted

New rates of Customs Duty for imports will be applicable from the 1st January 2021. This is called the UK Global Tariff. You can search for your goods on the database, by commodity code and/or description here. This will show you if there is any change between what you pay now, and what you will be expected to pay from the 1st January. It displays the tariffs that will be applied to goods at the border when they are imported and does not include other import duties, such as VAT.

This may vary if there is a trade agreement in place, exception applies such as relief or tariff suspension, or if the goods come from countries that are part of the generalised scheme.

The Trader Support Service will help you if you

1. Move goods between Great Britain & Northern Ireland
2. Bring Goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK

The Northern Ireland Protocol comes into force on the 1st January 2021, and there will be changes to the way you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. If this applies to you, sign up here to their free support service which will help you with declarations, and guiding you through changes to moving goods across the borders.


This service is not available for goods moving between the UK & EU.

What else can my business be doing to prepare for Brexit?

  • There are likely to be delays at ports from the 1st January 2021, so you may wish to increase your current stock holding in the UK to avoid future supply issues.
  • To combat the delays at ports, consider taking alternative routes for the movement of goods – this is something you should discuss with your freight forwarder in more detail.
  • Review and map out your supply chain, so you can identify areas which may cause you future problems.
  • There is a shortage of qualified experts when it comes to customs declarations in the UK, so act promptly to ensure you have the necessary support.

If you need more information on any aspect of this, please do not hesitate to reach out to your lead contact in the first instance.