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Customs & Brexit

The most important changes for companies

In the case of a disorderly Brexit, the general customs provisions applicable to third countries will apply to trade between the United Kingdom and the EU.

Customs clearances and controls will then be carried out, wherein the Combined Nomenclature Duty Rates (in German) are to be applied. Certain goods will also be subject, upon importation from or exportation to the UK, to Prohibitions and Restrictions.

Also to be taken into account for the commercial movement of goods is the fact that in the case of a disorderly Brexit, all the Authorisations for special customs procedures (in German) granted in the UK will become invalid. Therefore, where authorisations for the whole of the EU were applied for only in the UK, stakeholders should newly apply in good time for them in Austria or another Member State, or for the handling in the UK, respectively.

In particular, businesses that have hitherto been engaged in trade with the UK only on an intra-Community basis should familiarise themselves as quickly as possible with the necessary customs formalities in order to be prepared for a disorderly Brexit.

In support of this, the Economic Chambers of the Austrian provinces will hold information events in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the local customs offices (please check also our presentation on customs clearance).

In addition, at the customs offices their own Brexit managers (in German) and the respective responsible customer service teams as well as the Central Customs Information Office of the Federal Ministry of Finance are available for supplementary information.

Each company must decide for themselves how they want to shape their future economic relations with the UK. In this context, it should be noted that Switzerland is neither a member of the EU nor the EEA and, despite customs formalities, is currently Austria’s fourth most important trading partner.

The main measures for the commercial movement of goods

  • Stakeholders trading with third countries (among which the UK will be in the case of a disorderly Brexit) must register with the customs authorities in the EU. Upon application, a so-called EORI number will be issued for this purpose. For further information see the EORI application procedure. An application for an EORI number can be made as of now.
  • Generally, customs declarants must be resident in the EU (see Legal information about e-customs - in German). Representations for customs formalities, e.g. by freight forwarders, are possible.
  • Information exchange between stakeholders and customs authorities takes place electronically. Its use requires appropriate software (in German), via which a customs declaration can be submitted.
  • It is recommended to request an Authorisation as “approved consignor or consignee” under the transit procedure or to commission a freight forwarder having such a licence. This will make it possible to speed up entry at the external border of the EU from the UK by shifting the actual customs formalities to the specific destination of the consignment in question.
  • As regards turnover tax, there will no longer be intra-Community deliveries to the UK. Instead, tax-exempt export deliveries to a third country will be made, which are to be evidenced by the customs export documents. For private purchases (tourist export), Export certificates for VAT purposes (U34) can be issued.
  • Upon import from the UK, the turnover tax is determined in the course of customs clearance and can then at most be asserted as input tax.

You can find further information in German in the section Customs, chapter "Für Unternehmen" (for companies) in German.

Main changes for imports of goods by travel and mail order

  •  In case of a disorderly Brexit  the following allowances and thresholds for entry from the United Kingdom will be the same as for all other third countries.
  • Any import and export restrictions such as species protection, health protection, plant protection, anti-product piracy regulations, etc. also apply. Attention, therefore, especially when taking along unprocessed food (e.g. raw meat) and live animals, e.g. pets! Details see Prohibitions and Restrictions on Imports. More information is also available under Einfuhrverbote und Einfuhrbeschränkungen (in German).
  • In the case of internet shopping and mail order, shipments from the United Kingdom with a value of goods of up to Euro 22 remain tax-free for the time being; VAT must be paid above this amount, and customs duties must also be paid from Euro 150. Generally, the delivery service (post office, parcel services) also requires additional reimbursement of costs for the handling of customs formalities. Details see Internet shopping and mail-order business (in German).

You can find further information at Entry from non-EU countries.

Information from the French Customs Authority

As 80% of the traffic between Continental Europe and the United Kingdom takes place via the Calais-Dover route, the French Directorate General for Customs and Indirect Taxes (DGDDI) has provided various types of information regarding border crossing for the companies concerned (primarily transport and logistics companies) and has set up a hotline at French Customs. The hotline can be reached via email at and by phone at +33 811 204 444 (€0.06 /min. + call charge).

More information and related links from the European Commission