By the Grace of HMRC (Easements – in a No Deal scenario)

Featuring Liam Dushynsky | 6th February, 2019

Given the stalemate situation we appear to be in with no majority in Parliament and the EU not willing to budge on what has already been agreed. HMRC are flexing their muscles and giving us a glimmer of what could potentially happen in a post Brexit world. There has been significant criticism over recent months over the apparent lack of preparation.

This complicated game of poker is nearing the end, all the chips are on the table and the UK is starting to lay down the cards. It appears that the UK has had the guidance (the majority of which was issued at the end of December) and action plans to soften a potential hard Brexit all along. The downside of holding back until the 11th hour is that most UK businesses have a lot to do in little time (approx. 50 days at the time of writing).

The big issues that businesses potentially faced

  • Getting a complicated declaration completed before the goods came in (lots of details)
  • Having to pay the import charges before the goods would be released (likely to be duty only if VAT registered and postponed import VAT is introduced)
  • If a business wanted a tab to put the charges on and pay later they would need a Customs Comprehensive Guarantee (CCG), the timescales can be up to 120 days to get authorisation, and they also need a bank guarantee before you can start using it.
  • If a business wanted to use a special procedure such as inward processing relief

Softening the blow

Many business should receive letter from HMRC explaining the intended launch of Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) for customs when goods are imported at Roll on Roll off (RoRo) locations i.e. where wheeled vehicles carrying cargo drive such as Dover, Felixstow and the Channel Tunnel etc.

Rather than a full authorisation process, businesses can simply register for TSP. Once registered businesses will be able to postpone the completion of a full customs declaration until after the goods have crossed the UK border and postpone the payment of import duty until the month following importation. In summary:

  • Businesses can register for TSP from 7 February 2019.
  • Where goods imported are subject to duties, a direct debit will need to be set up in order to defer the payment (essentially given a deferment account). Traders have until 30 June 2019 to submit a financial guarantee to go with their deferment account.
  • The policy once in place will be reviewed 3-6 months after introduction and there will be 12 months grace period if they decide to withdraw it.
  • TSP will not be made available to traders with poor compliance history, intermediaries, person acting on behalf of someone else or animal/plant based cargo.

It will operate under two declaration procedures depending on the goods imports.

Standard Goods:

  • A declaration is made directly onto commercial records when goods cross the border.
  • Hauliers are provided with an EORI as proof the goods are subject to TSP.
  • A supplementary declaration is prepared after the goods have arrived.

Controlled Goods:

  • A simplified frontier declaration is provided prior to arrival at the border to ensure certification and license requirements are met
  • On arrival the trader updates the declaration to arrive before the working day following the crossing
  • A supplementary declaration is prepared after the goods have arrived.

The grace also extend to special procedures. Although TSP cannot be used with a special procedure (an alternative means to suspend duty/VAT etc.), other changes have been announced.
For at least 12 months after the UK leaves the EU, HMRC will remove the need to provide a financial guarantee (unless you have a poor payment record) or hold a CCG in order to be authorised for the following:

  • Customs warehousing
  • Temporary admission
  • Inward processing
  • Outward processing
  • End use

You will still need to apply for the procedure, many of which can take up to 60 days to get.

Conclusion

It may not be the winning hand but it was better than expected, it demonstrates the powers that the UK could introduce without the need to get permission from the EU. There is still time for things to change again but this is a welcome change at the moment.

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