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UK businesses urged to register for extended simplified customs procedures

The UK government has announced that it is extending arrangements for simplified customs procedures to all UK ports, if Brexit takes place without a withdrawal agreement in place.25 Mar 2019

The extended transitional simplified procedures (TSP) mean that registered businesses will be able to transport goods from the EU into the UK via all ports and airports, without having to make full customs declarations at the border or pay import duties before the autumn.

However a tax expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that businesses needed to act now to register for TSP and not wait for certainty from the government as to the eventual outcome of ongoing Brexit negotiations.  

UK tax authority HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said it was extending the time which businesses have before they need to submit their first customs declarations until 4 October 2019 for goods imported up until 30 September.

After the end of September, customs declarations and payments will need to be made on the fourth working day of the following month.

Importers need to register with HMRC to obtain a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number before they can register for TSP.

All businesses, including those which have not registered for TSP, will have until 30 September 2019 to provide a guarantee that is required to cover any customs duties that they wish to defer. This is an extension from the original deadline of 30 June 2019.

Pinsent Masons tax expert Catherine Robins said the move was welcomed but businesses still needed to prepare themselves for a no-deal scenario.

"Delaying the time when the first customs declarations and payments need to be made will be welcome, but the upheaval of having to comply with these new procedures should not be under estimated. Many businesses have still not taken the first step, which is applying for an EORI number," Robins said.

"Businesses cannot afford to wait and see what happens in parliament. They should still be making no-deal plans, notwithstanding the short delay for Brexit to 12 April in the event a deal cannot be agreed," Robins said.

TSP was originally set to cover "priority" ports, such as Dover or the Channel Tunnel, but will now be available for any port or airport where goods are brought in from the EU. HMRC said the change had been made following discussions with stakeholders from across the ports industry.

The announcement of the extension follows previous letters from HMRC to UK VAT-registered businesses which trade with the UK, advising them on how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.