Government confirms introduction of imports controls

Government confirms introduction of imports controls

The Government has confirmed plans to introduce import controls on EU goods at the border after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

Speaking at a Border Delivery Group meeting yesterday, Cabinet Minister Michael Gove confirmed all UK exports and imports will be treated equally. This will mean traders in the EU and GB will have to submit customs declarations and be liable to goods’ checks. He also confirmed that the policy easements put in place for a potential no deal exit will not be reintroduced as businesses "have time to prepare".

Mr Gove said: "The UK will be outside the single market and outside the customs union, so we will have to be ready for the customs procedures and regulatory checks that will inevitably follow."

"As a result of that we will be in a stronger position, not just to make sure that our economy succeeds outside the European Union but that we are in a position to take advantage of new trading relationships with the rest of the world."

Speaking after Mr Gove’s speech , Elizabeth de Jong, UK Policy Director at the Freight Transport Association, which represents more than 18,000 logistics businesses in the UK, said: “Today’s announcements about the UK’s future relationship with Europe provide more much-needed clarity for logistics operators, and his assertion that there will be no extension to the transition period gives businesses a finite deadline to which to work.

“Mr Gove put to rest Sajiv Javid’s assertion that industry had plenty of time to prepare.  It is encouraging for industry that he said he does not underestimate what needs to be done and that he has his civil servants focussed on capturing and providing industry with the details we need, we hope within the timeframes we need to prepare.

“As representatives of the logistics industry, we are naturally disappointed that the promise of frictionless trade has been replaced with a  promise that trade will be as seamless as possible but not until 2025, with a more realistic but costly “make do and mend” approach to be employed until then.  Industry will need the support of government during this period to Keep Britain Trading effectively.”

Meanwhile, HMRC has extended the deadline for businesses to apply for customs support funding to 31 January 2021. 

The scheme, first announced in September 2019, had been due to close on 31 January 2020. To date, applications have been made for around £18.5 million out of a possible £26 million – meaning there is at least £7.5 million left to claim from HMRC.

Robert Keen, Director General of BIFA, the trade association for UK freight forwarding and logistics companies, said: “During many meetings with both HM Treasury and HMRC over the last three years, BIFA has highlighted the concerns of our members regarding the capability of the Customs brokerage sector to increase capacity, at a time when that sector already faces a shortage of staff of suitable quality.

“We emphasised that it could take up to a year to train staff to be fully conversant to prepare a range of basic Customs declarations, even if there was a sufficient number of trainers to train those staff, as well as relevant courses for them to attend.

"So, the news of a further extension to the deadline for this funding is very welcome, and we are encouraging our members who believe they might benefit to apply; if they have not done so already.”

BIFA notes that grants are being made available for all customs intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations with the aim of supporting training and the upgrade of IT systems.

Keen adds: “This scheme is intended to help support the extra demand for customs brokerage services associated with the UK’s departure from the EU, as well as issues associated with the replacement of the current system used to process customs entries."

BIFA says the grants could be used to support a business that is extending and taking on new staff, or to help train an existing employee to start completing customs declarations for the company. Training can be delivered by an external provider, or an in-house trainer.

More information on how businesses can apply, and a link to the online application page are available at www.customsintermediarygrant.co.uk