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VAT & Customs After Leaving the EU

January 28, 2020

All VAT registered businesses trading between the UK and the EU will already be preparing for the ‘implementation period’ of leaving the EU to begin. As it begins on Friday, we thought it was well worth taking a last look at what to expect.

Beginning the Implementation Period

The UK will no longer be a member of the EU as of February 1st. Instead, we enter an ‘implementation period’ where the steps needed to prepare can be taken, lasting until New Year’s Eve.

During this period, you’ll still treat customs, VAT, and excise the same way when trading with the EU (unless rules change for the entire EU – so if the EU adjusts VAT, that will affect trade.) There will be no new customs procedures during that time, giving businesses the chance to prepare for new procedures going forward.

After the Implementation Period

Customs declarations to both import and export goods will be needed from January 1st 2021 onwards. Other precautions may also be necessary – we’ll know more as negotiations progress.

How to Prepare

Keep up to Date

Keep an eye on the negotiations once they begin, and sign up to anything that will help you stay up to date. HMRC are putting out regular emails; you can sign up for this information at

How Will You Make Customs Declarations?

Customs declarations can be made by the business or on the business’ behalf by a customs agent. These agents have plenty of experience, and can often process declarations much faster because of that.

If you decide to use an agent, we recommend you start looking now – you’ll want to find someone offering the services you need before their client roster is full!

HMRC have promised to release more guidance for declarations and more concrete information about Northern Ireland customs processes.

Have You Got Your EORI Number?

Standing for Economic Operator Registration and Identification, your EORI number is needed to submit customs declarations. It will start with GB – if you have one, make sure you have it securely recorded somewhere easy to access.

If you don’t, you can register for yours at

Customs Service Updates

Imports from the EU do not currently require registration and use of Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP). This is suspended between February and December 2020, but those who applied for the service are encouraged to keep their paperwork safe.

Another HMRC service which will not be available during the transition period is postponed VAT Accounting.

At the moment, that’s as much as we can say for sure; a lot is going to depend on how EU trade negotiations proceed.

Whenever we have an update on changes to EU trade (or anything stemming from another trade deal as the UK), we’ll make sure we get it to you as quickly as possible.

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