As we approach the scheduled Brexit date of October 31st, there is a significant possibility that the UK will leave without a deal. What does this mean for international parcel and freight delivery?
The first thing to note is that we’re still a member of the EU until October 31st. This was the extension deadline agreed earlier in the year, and the UK will continue to trade as an EU member until then.
After that, however, unless there is another extension, customs rules are likely to change. If we leave without a deal, we will fall back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and shipping to the EU will be like shipping to non-EU countries, subject to customs clearance.
We’ve rounded up some Brexit guidance from the major parcel delivery companies, to help provide some clarity amidst the ongoing uncertainty.
What the courier companies say
Here are the information pages and resources from our carriers:
TNT / FedEx – A fairly comprehensive Brexit toolkit, including a checklist, FAQ, and no-deal guide.
UPS – Brexit resource centre with a downloadable “playbook” to help you prepare.
DPD – Brexit status updates, some very general guidance, and a handy guide to Brexit jargon.
DHL doesn’t seem to have set up an information hub for the UK yet, but its Netherlands site has (in English) some information for European businesses.
Some things you can do
The recurring advice from carriers is that there are a few things you can do now, especially as a business in the UK or the EU, to prepare for a no-deal eventuality. Here are some of the big ones.
(1) Businesses should register for an EORI Number
This is the identification number currently required by any business importing to or exporting from the EU.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you’ll need to register for a UK EORI Number to import to and export from the UK, and an EU EORI Number to import to and export from the EU.
You can register for a UK EORI Number on the UK government website.
UK businesses are currently required to submit an export declaration to the HMRC if permanently exporting goods to countries outside of the EU, as well as having export licenses for certain goods.
This isn’t currently required for goods sold within the EU (for the most part), but the rules here are likely to change if we leave with no deal.
(2) Classify your goods
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, a customs declaration will be required by UK shippers for all international parcel shipments, and by EU shippers when sending goods to the UK.
For commercial shipments, you will need to provide the HS / Commodity Code for each item in your shipment, as well as an item description and value. These codes are needed for calculating duties and taxes.
The government has announced a temporary no-tariff scheme on most UK imports in the event of no deal but you should still be prepared for if and when this changes.
(3) Check customs rules
You always need to make sure you are following the customs rules and regulations of your destination country or territory—and if we leave without a deal, this will include the EU. Before shipping, check if any duties, taxes or controls are imposed on imports from non-EU countries for the goods you are trying to send.
If there are any additional duties, you should notify the receiver as they may be required to pay.
(4) Prepare for delays
Port congestion and fuel shortages have been predicted in the event of a no-deal exit. However drastic the outcome, there are likely to be delays in the short-term as supply chains adjust to new rules and customs checks at the border.
There isn’t much you can do about this except to plan around it, allow for more time and let your recipient know of the general disruption in advance.
Need any help with your parcel? Get in touch
Unfortunately parcel delivery companies and freight forwarders have no control over customs rules, and the government has not always been forthcoming with regards to the possible outcomes of Brexit. However, we are more than happy to help where we can and will always try to keep you updated about your parcel delivery.
Our office hours are 8am-6:30pm Monday-Friday, 9am-1pm Saturday (excluding bank holidays).