Customs & Brexit
The United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the Single Market and thus of the EU Customs Union at the end of the transitional period stipulated in the Withdrawal Agreement at 00:00 CET on 1 January 2021.
On 24 December 2020, the EU and the United Kingdom agreed on a Trade and Partnership Agreement that also provides for duty-free and quantitatively unlimited trade in goods, provided that these goods can be shown to meet certain conditions. The Agreement will enter into force in the United Kingdom on 1 January 2021. The EU will provisionally apply the Agreement from 1 January 2021, following a Council decision, until the completion of the internal formal legislative procedures.
The provisions and regulations relevant to trade are contained in Part 2 of the Agreement. In addition, there are the supplementary annexes with the rules of origin, a separate administrative assistance protocol in customs matters, and a regulation on administrative assistance in the collection of customs duties, VAT tax and excise duties. The full text of the Agreement and further information can be found on the homepage of the Commission.
The Commission has furthermore compiled information on the expected changes and impacts for public administrations, companies and citizens under the title “Ready for the end of the transitional period”, which can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/info/european-union-and-united-kingdom-forging-new-partnership/future-partnership/getting-ready-end-transition-period_de. This includes a guide to EU regulations in the customs area, including preferential origin, which is available at the following link: https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/customs-incl-preferential-origin-rules (revised Brexit guidelines of the Commission as of 23 December 2020).
Further information on the EU’s preferential measures after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom can be found here.
Information on the effects of Brexit on Austrian companies doing business in the United Kingdom can also be found on the pages of the Austrian Economic Chamber.
Trade in goods
In the trade in goods with the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the general customs provisions and regulations for non-EU countries apply. Import and export are therefore subject to customs formalities, through which also turnover tax and excise duties are processed and through which the customs authority enforces prohibitions and restrictions regarding the possession or transfer (transportation) of goods across the EU customs border or the federal border, respectively.
In the trade in goods with Northern Ireland, the regulations and provisions for EU States continue to apply, because Northern Ireland is treated as if it were an EU member state.
As indicated at the outset, the new Trade and Partnership Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland) provides for an ambitious free trade area without customs duty and without quota-based restrictions on trade in goods. But only if certain demonstrable conditions are met, which are above all subject to control by the customs authorities in the course of customs clearance.
Trade with the United Kingdom from 1 January 2021 will therefore be very different from the smooth trade in goods that was ensured by the United Kingdom’s participation in the EU Customs Union and the Single Market until 31 December 2020. Despite the Agreement, there is no longer membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union for the United Kingdom.
This status of the United Kingdom as a non-EU-member leads inter alia to the following consequences:
All imports and all exports will be subject to customs formalities;
rules of origin apply to goods in order to qualify for preferential tariff treatment under the Agreement;
all imports into the EU must meet all EU standards and are subject to regulatory inspections and controls for safety, health and other public purposes.
For entries from the United Kingdom as well as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the general customs provisions and regulations for entry from non-EU states apply.
For entries from Northern Ireland , the regulations for entry from EU States continue to apply, because Northern Ireland is treated as if it were an EU Member State.
What are the implications for the e-commerce sector?
Goods ordered online by consumers in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man, will also be subject to customs formalities and controls from 1 January 2021 and may be subject to customs duty and import turnover tax, and possibly also excise duties.
Goods with a merchandise value of more than € 22 are subject to import turnover tax. Customs duty must be additionally paid starting from a merchandise value of € 150. The amount of the customs duty depends on the goods themselves, the value, and the country of origin of the goods. For more information, see Internet Shopping and Mail Order.
For online orders in Northern Ireland, the regulations continue to apply as if Northern Ireland were an EU Member State, and no payment of customs duties takes place.
- To avoid uncertainties in customs handling at the external border of the EU27, the use of the transit procedure is highly recommended for consignments destined for Austria, especially in the first months after the end of the transitional period on 31 December 2020.
- All EU goods (Union goods) that are in the United Kingdom after the end of the transitional period automatically become non-Union goods with the consequences for non-Union goods arising from Union customs law. This also applies to goods placed under a special procedure or in temporary storage in the United Kingdom before 31 December 2020.
- Authorisations necessary for the handling of special procedures in trade in goods with the United Kingdom as a third country after 31 December 2020 (e.g. customs warehousing procedures, inward or outward processing) may be requested from the competent customs office in order to ensure smooth handling.
- In any case, economic operators need an EORI number for customs clearance with the United Kingdom. Information on how to apply for registration and obtain an EORI number can be found here.
1. In the case of ongoing transportation from the United Kingdom to the EU27, what procedure applies at the end of the transitional period (cf. Item 5.3 of the EU Guide)?
In case of start of transportation before 31 December 2020, evidence of the start of transportation must be provided by means of a transport document (e.g. CMR consignment note, CIM consignment note, bill of lading, multi-modal bill of lading or air consignment note). In lieu of a transport document, evidence of customs status may be presented.
For transportation from the United Kingdom to the EU27, the internal transit procedure (T2) is applicable until 31 December 2020, whereas for transit from 1 January 2021, 00:00 CET, the external transit procedure (T1) is applicable.
2. What exemptions exist for goods coming back from the United Kingdom (cf. Item 5.4 of the EU Guide)?
For goods exported from the United Kingdom to a third country before 31 December 2020 and intended to be re-imported into the EU27 after 31 December 2020, the returned-goods provisions of Article 203 of the UCC shall apply mutatis mutandis; the relevant proof of return shall be provided upon importation.
Goods brought into the United Kingdom from the EU27 before the end of the transitional period and intended to be re-imported into the EU27 after 31 December 2020 shall be subject, mutatis mutandis, to the returned-goods provisions of Article 203 of the UCC, provided that evidence is furnished that the goods were brought into the United Kingdom before the end of 31 December 2020 and will be returned in unaltered condition within three years.
Proof of return must be provided by means of transport documents and, if necessary, other relevant documents (all documents by which the movement from the territory of the EU27 to the United Kingdom can be plausibly demonstrated); transport documents are, for example, CMR consignment note, CIM consignment note, bill of lading, multi-modal bill of lading, or air consignment note.
3. Which regulations apply to temporary admission (cf. Item 7.2 of the EU Guide)?
Where goods under temporary admission are brought into the EU27 from the United Kingdom after 31 December 2020, the customs formalities laid down in the UCC for goods brought into the customs territory of the Union from outside must be applied (i.e. entry summary declaration, temporary storage declaration and customs declaration, customs debt).
Where goods under temporary admission covered by a United Kingdom authorisation have been brought into the Union before the end of the transitional period pursuant to Article 219 of the UCC and are to remain in the customs territory of the Union, this temporary admission procedure should be completed before the end of 31 December 2020. In the absence of such completion, the customs debt shall be incurred pursuant to Article 79 of the UCC.
4. Which regulations apply to the release for free circulation (cf. Item 6 of the EU Guide)?
For customs declarations accepted in the United Kingdom before 1 January 2021, 00:00 CET – even if the release of the goods concerned takes place after that date – the provisions of the UCC apply.
In case of invalidation of the customs declaration after 1 January 2021 of a customs declaration accepted before 1 January 2021, the goods concerned are again under the previous procedure (e.g. customs warehousing procedure) or temporary storage, respectively, as of the date of acceptance of the customs declaration at that time. The further procedure is then governed by the corresponding rules for goods which are under a special procedure or in temporary storage, respectively, at the end of the transitional period.
5. What happens to goods that are in the United Kingdom for working or processing after the end of the transitional period and are to be transported back into the EU27 territory?
Goods obtained by working or processing EU27 goods brought into the United Kingdom before 1 January 2021 will be considered as non-Union goods from 1 January 2021 and will have to be placed under a customs procedure designated for non-Union goods or in temporary storage, respectively, upon importation from the United Kingdom.
6. Aspects of the preferential origin:
What is the treatment of goods covered by a supplier’s declaration with origin in the United Kingdom?
Only a preferential “EU” origin may be stated in a supplier’s declaration; a “United Kingdom” origin or the indication of another Member State in a supplier’s declaration is not permissible!
How should goods be treated if there is a supplier’s declaration with EU origin but the issuer is based in the United Kingdom?
If the goods were delivered before the end of the transitional period, they retain EU origin; if the goods are delivered after 1 January 2021, 00:00 CET, they are non-Union goods.
How is a product to be treated that has already been produced but whose origin was obtained using input materials from the United Kingdom?
In the preferential origin, only an EU origin is determined; accordingly, there are neither “United Kingdom” input materials, nor is a United Kingdom share determined.
7. Are there transitional periods regarding the customs status of “floating goods”, i.e. consignments with entry into the transport route before 1 January 2021 (cf. Item 5.3 of the EU Guide)?
Union goods departing from the United Kingdom to the EU27 from an airport in the United Kingdom to Austria before 1 January 2021, 00:00 CET, retain the status of Union goods even if they arrive in Austria by air only after 1 January 2021. Otherwise, there is no further transitional period in air transport.
8. Is there a transitional period regarding the customs status of consignments with a planned shipping date before 1 January 2021 that can be shipped only after 1 January 2021?
For consignments that have been prepared for dispatch to the United Kingdom before 1 January 2021, 00:00 CET, but leave the customs territory of the EU27 only after this date, a customs export declaration must be submitted in any case.
9. Validity of EORI numbers of UK companies?
All EORI numbers of companies established in the United Kingdom will be cancelled in the EOS system at the end of 31 December 2020. Economic operators from the United Kingdom can apply for EORI numbers in the EU27 which will be valid no earlier than 1 January 2021.
Economic operators from Northern Ireland likewise need to register there.
10. What are the deadlines for the submission of T2 consignment notes? For how long can T2 consignment notes be issued if the transport to the United Kingdom cannot be carried out within seven days due to traffic delays; or, respectively, what happens to T2 consignments notes that have not been handled after this period has expired?
As the United Kingdom will participate in the common transit procedure from 1 January 2021, the provisions and regulations of the common transit procedure will apply here mutatis mutandis; any traffic delays that prevent compliance with the submission deadline are to be treated as they are at present.
Where the presentation or submission, respectively, has taken place after the expiry of the time limit set by the customs office of departure pursuant to Article 297 I of the UCC-IA, the time limit shall be deemed to have been observed if the holder of the procedure or the carrier furnishes evidence, to the satisfaction of the customs office of destination, that he/she is not responsible for the delay.
11. Is an EORI number needed there for deliveries from a customs warehouse in the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland, even though Northern Ireland concomitantly remains in the customs territory with the United Kingdom? Are there any digital declaration requirements in this case so that it can be determined whether the goods remain in Northern Ireland or go on to the EU27 after all?
If goods are brought into Northern Ireland from a customs warehouse in the United Kingdom, then the procedure is governed by United Kingdom regulations. The BMF is currently not aware of these, but it can be assumed that the regulations will at least partly correspond to the Union’s customs regulations.
The receipt of the goods in Northern Ireland will continue to be subject to the customs provisions of Union customs law (i.e. a customs clearance under the UCC with release for free circulation or another customs procedure).
Thus, a re-export declaration is required for removal from a customs warehouse in the United Kingdom.
For forwarding to the EU27 or Northern Ireland, a T1 transit procedure can be opened already in the United Kingdom, because the United Kingdom is still a contracting party to the Common Transit Procedure, in order to simplify and speed up the actual border crossing from the United Kingdom to the EU27 or Northern Ireland, respectively. Otherwise, a customs procedure (e.g. T1 for onward transport to the destination in Northern Ireland or the EU27) would have to be opened at the latest when the goods actually enter Northern Ireland or the EU27, respectively.
As far as indication of an EORI № is concerned, it depends on the customs provisions in the United Kingdom whether they continue to use an EORI № and whether the consignor or holder of the transit procedure, respectively, is required to indicate an EORI №.
The recipient in Northern Ireland or in the EU27, respectively, will then in any case need an EORI № for the further customs procedures; this will in future begin with “XI” for economic operators in Northern Ireland, as will the VAT ID №s required for intra-Community deliveries.
The Austrian Customs Administration will be happy to receive your questions and concerns regarding BREXIT. Our experts strive to provide a quick and competent answer. We would like to point out that the information provided is not legally binding.
Phone +43 50 233 740
Please send your requests preferably by email. We answer your enquiries by telephone from Monday to Friday from 6:00 to 22:00 o’clock.
Concerning the BREXIT, citizens, economic operators, companies and public authorities can also ask questions directly to the Commission via the following portal:
- Website of the French customs authority: English version; French version
- Information by the French customs authority on import and export modalities for ongoing transportations on 31 December 2020 / 1 January 2021 (PDF, 112 KB)(French / English)
- Information by the French veterinary administration on the subject of importation and Brexit
- IMPORTANT: Information on scanning import documents for entry into France can be found here.
According to information by the French customs administration, the scanning of incorrect documents often leads to use of improper lanes when entering France. As a result, the flexibility of the “smart border” concept can no longer be guaranteed, which can subsequently lead to delays in customs clearance and congestion of parking facilities for lorries.
- Press release of the French Minister Olivier Dussopt on border controls towards the United Kingdom and the concept of the “Smart Border” in French (PDF, 283 KB) and in English (PDF, 133 KB). You can find explanatory videos on this subject at
- Website of the Dutch Customs Administration: English version; Dutch version
- Information by the Dutch ports: German version; English version