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Step by step of the necessary procedures to export from the EU to the United Kingdom and vice versa after Brexit

The Embassy of the United Kingdom in Madrid exposes to agri-food companies the documentary requirements that will come into force from January 1 to carry out commercial transactions between the European Union and the British territory.


Scheme of the necessary procedures to export from Spain to UK and vice versa.

Recently, the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Madrid has carried out a webinar for companies in the agri-food sector in which they have been informed of how to prepare for the changes in international trade that will take place from January 1, 2021 on the occasion of Brexit. Circumstances that, especially for SMEs, pose a special challenge, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it is that, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union, both British and EU companies will have to face significant changes in terms of legal export procedures between both markets, as far as that from the British Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) insists on the "urgency" of preparing companies in this regard, so that trade is not paralyzed.

As of January 1, 2021, a border infrastructure will be established to control the transit of goods entering and leaving the United Kingdom and as of July 1, sanitary and phytosanitary controls will begin to be carried out at the border, therefore, In the case of ports with the capacity for construction in their own facilities, the border posts will take place in the same port, or in those in which the construction of the same is not possible, the controls will be carried out inland in a list of border posts to be published shortly.

However, as of today it is known that the border posts of Ebbsfleet, Sevington, the western docks of Dover, Stop 24 and Waterbrook will be operational from 1 January. In this way, the HMRC (the British Customs Service) will use Ebbsfleet, with a capacity of 256 heavy vehicles, to carry out transit controls of goods and customs clearance, as well as the Western Dover Dover, which has a capacity between 100 and 170 heavy vehicles. A capacity that is also shared by Stop 24, which will only be used for merchandise transit controls, while Sevington will have the largest capacity for heavy vehicles, with 2000, and will be a multifunctional space for traffic management and complete border controls from of July. For its part, Waterbrook, with a capacity of 476 heavy vehicles, will have a role in supporting Sevington in the event that it is not operational, for inbound and outbound controls of merchandise transit and customs clearance.

Control measures

Regarding the measures and documents necessary to export from the European Union to the United Kingdom, there will be a transition period that will take place in three stages:
  • As of January 1, 2021, it will be necessary to have a complete declaration or to have carried out the simplified customs freight procedure or Customs Freight Simplified Procedure (CFSP, for its acronym in English), that is, an electronic customs declaration to speed up the import of goods; and control of products subject to excise and controlled taxes, while for standard products, records will be kept through the CFSP's local authorization procedure (EIDR) or through the CFSP itself, with the possibility of postponing the full declaration for 6 months, based on in a self-evaluation, as well as it is possible to postpone payment for 6 months, and without the need for a sanitary declaration, although veterinary and phytosanitary controls will be carried out at destination for high-risk goods.
  • As of April 1, a prior application for importation into the United Kingdom of goods of animal origin, high-risk foods that are not of animal origin, and regulated plants and plant products will be necessary.
  • As of July 1, complete sanitary and customs declarations or the use of simplified procedures will be necessary in the case of having authorization to do so, as well as the payment of the corresponding import fees. In addition, veterinary, sanitary and phytosanitary controls will be carried out at the border control posts at the destination.
A series of bureaucratic issues for which the British Administration recommends that companies ensure responsibility for taxes and dispatches, as well as conflict resolution. Standard commercial terms and conditions, Incoterms 2020, which will be published by the international Chambers of Commerce.

Economic Operator Identification Number: EORI

To comply with a series of customs regulations, such as special procedures, Authorization as an Economic Operator (AEO) or customs freight simplified procedures (CFSP), a person or company must be established in the United Kingdom, for which it is necessary to accredit documentary evidence that the actual activity of the company in British territory is the one that is declared. These documents can be a registration certificate issued by the Companies Registry, details of where the staff is employed and the activity carried out, the location of the physical premises owned or under lease that the company has, details of contracts, orders or invoices received or issued by the company and proof that the company has its own accounts.
For its part, in the member countries of the European Union, the person or company must be established in the EU and involved in the operation, being able to accompany the load or carrier and have a European CIF, so that companies British will need a company registered in the EU, to act as an exporter to the EU or as its representative in European territory.

In this way, both importers and exporters from the United Kingdom must have an Economic Operator Identification Number (EORI) issued by the British Administration, just as both importers and exporters from the EU must have said number issued by a Member State of the European Single Market, as EORIs issued by the United Kingdom for economic operators not established in British territory will not be valid in the European Union after the end of the transition period. In addition, UK carriers will also need to have an EU EORI if, for example, it is the entity responsible for entering the Entry Summary Declaration data into the import control system in the case of accompanied freight.

The EORI number will be required to file a customs declaration; submit an Entry Summary Statement (ENS); File an Exit Summary Statement (EXS); submit a declaration of temporary storage in that customs territory; work as a carrier for the purposes of transportation by sea, inland waterways or air; as well as to work as a carrier that is connected to the customs system and wishes to receive any of the notifications provided in the customs registry regarding the presentation or modification of the entry summary declaration.

In this regard, traders established in the EU can already apply for and obtain a UK EORI number, although the IT systems of some EU Member States will not be able to pre-assign EORI numbers to traders and carriers established in the UK before 1 from January. However, they will be able to accept applications in advance and will officially assign EORI numbers from the day after the end of the transition period.

Thus, to obtain a British EORI number, whose nomenclature begins with GB, you must go to the following link of the British Administration:, while to obtain those of any Member State of the European Union, you will have to to go to the customs services of each country.

Step by step at each stage of the transition process

Although the details of the commercial relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union are still unknown, once the transition period is over, it is known what the procedures will be. Currently, the documents necessary to transport goods, for example, between Spain and the United Kingdom are limited to an invoice and a transport contract, but as of January 1, 2021 at least nine more procedures will be added, such as the certification of goods , the export declaration, the exit of the goods, the requirements for importing goods to the United Kingdom and the necessary requirements to later return to the EU, and although the preparation of each company to export will depend on the situation of each one , the whole process begins with an export declaration.

Export from the EU to the UK as of January 1, 2021:

- Approval of production facilities, necessary for sanitary and phytosanitary controls.
- Export declaration, with which a movement reference number (MRN) will be obtained so that the goods can be loaded on the ferry or train on the EU side.
- Notification of arrival at customs at the EU border.
- Notification to the exporter after departure.
- Notification of arrival to customs at the UK border, for controlled goods only.
- Declaration of the goods.
- Notification in IPAFFS systems (Import of products, animals, food and feed system) on the import declaration of certain products (animals, wines, high-risk ABS, germ products).
- Complementary declaration within 6 months after importation (import declaration).

Export from the United Kingdom to the European Union as of January 1, 2021:

- Online Export Health Certificates (EHC-O) for products that require it.

- Partner-to-Partner (P2P) departure notification and Movement Departure Advice (S8).

-  Statement of reference number of the movement, MRN (import or transit) and Entry summary declaration (ENS) made.

- Carrier submits Entry Summary Statement (ENS).

- Prior notification of sanitary and phytosanitary controls of the products.

- Import declaration

As of April 1, EU exports to the UK will require prior notification of import into British territory, using IPAFF and necessary certificates for products of animal origin (POAO), high risk food (HRF) of non-animal origin ( NAO) and feed, and all regulated plants and plant products.

As of July 1, an entry summary statement will also be necessary, along with the rest of the previous procedures to export from the European Union to the United Kingdom, and the fact that any procedure or document is missing, both when exporting. from the European Union to the United Kingdom as vice versa, it will imply that the transport of the merchandise cannot be carried out, therefore, during the celebration of the webinar in which this process was explained, the British Government encouraged companies to verify the places where goods must circulate in both directions and if it would be necessary to appoint a representative to act on behalf of the company in foreign territory. In addition, the importance of understanding the new requirements in each supply chain was explained, ensuring that suppliers / distributors / customers understand the actions they must carry out, taking into account the corresponding regulations in each of the stages for each type. of product. Likewise, it was urged to start the process as soon as possible in case of need for approval of a new product or if it requires approval by a third party.

On the other hand, it was warned of the possibility of having to make changes to the information of the products, as occurs with the regulatory marks that appear on them, with the use of the UKCA brand to show compliance with the UK regulatory regime (as in the case of products bearing the CE mark in the European Union), and vice versa.

Infoagro editions: Lydia Medero

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