In an effort to mitigate the challenges of importing goods from the EU after Brexit, HMRC has put into place Transitional Simplified Procedures ("TSPs") designed to streamline the customs process at the UK border as of 29 March 2019 if there is no deal.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK businesses importing from the EU will have to comply with the same customs procedures which currently apply to importing from non-EU countries. A briefing on these new trade requirements after Brexit can be found in our checklist for businesses to assess how ready they are for Brexit.

Currently, under import processes for trading with non-EU countries, goods are not released from UK customs control until a full import declaration is made and the duty owed is paid in full. The TSPs, introduced on 4 February 2019, are intended to speed up import procedures in relation to EU goods at so called"roll on roll off (RORO) locations" like Dover or the Channel Tunnel.

What are TSPs?

The TSPs are designed to fast track imports of EU goods by reducing the amount of information required for import declaration at the point when the goods are crossing the border. This is done through extending the period in which a business is obliged to give a full customs declaration and pay any applicable duty.

It is important to note that TSPs can only be used for imports through specified RORO ports. These 22 UK ports are listed on HMRC's website, and will adopt the less stringent procedures as of 29 March 2019.

How to sign up?

Businesses are already able to register online to use TSPs if they

(i) have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification scheme (EORI) number,

(ii) are established in the UK, and

(iii) import goods from the EU into the UK (including goods from third countries travelling via the EU provided they have cleared EU customs facilities).

In order to register, businesses need to provide HMRC with their EORI number, a VAT registration number (if available) as well as a UK business address and contact details.

Depending on the type of imported goods, businesses will be required to use either the "controlled goods procedure" or the "standard goods procedure". The controlled goods procedure requires pre-import paperwork for licensed and excise goods like alcohol and tobacco while the standard procedure only requires customs declaration at the point when the goods cross the UK border.

And after the transition?

TSPs are expected to be available for at least 15-18 months following a no-deal Brexit. HMRC will initially review the TSPs between 3 to 6 months after they are introduced on 29 March 2019. If HMRC decides to withdraw them, at least 12 months' notice will be given.

Although it is possible that the TSPs will continue to be available beyond the 15-18 month period, we would strongly advise businesses to become familiar with the process of importing from non-EU countries. This may involve appointing a third party (for example as freight forwarder or customs broker) to complete customs declarations or to obtain the necessary software to make customs declarations.

If you are unsure whether your business is eligible for TSPs or about what to do if your business exclusively imports from non-EU countries, please get in touch with Isobel d'Inverno, Charles Livingstone or your usual Brodies contact.

Please do visit our Brexit Hub for regular updates on Brexit related issues, including our checklist of key questions businesses should be asking themselves to assess how ready they are for Brexit.