Brexit. What changes next?

Though last-minute announcements alter the timetable for import checks and controls, 1 January 2022 still sees significant new compliance requirements.

Goods coming from the EU

The government has decided to phase in checks and controls on imports from the EU over a longer period. The Border Operating Model had set out major new requirements from 1 October 2021 and 1 January 2022, some with particular repercussions for the agri-food sector. This timetable is now revised.

Delayed

The new timetable pushes the start date of some new requirements into 2022. This affects pre-notification of what are called sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) goods: export health certificates: and phytosanitary certificates and physical checks on SPS goods at border control posts. It also impacts the timetable for the introduction of safety and security declarations on imports. We should be pleased to advise in more detail if this is relevant to you. It should be noted that the easements do not apply to imports to Northern Ireland.

Still on track

The revised timetable doesn’t do away with all change from 1 January 2022. Full customs controls and customs checks are still being introduced from this date, and the year-long easement allowing businesses to make delayed customs declarations ends. Unless you or your agent are authorised to use Customs Freight Simplified Procedures, you may need to pay relevant tariffs.

Northern Ireland. In another change, it has been announced that current processes for moving goods from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland will continue. For traders moving goods from the mainland into Northern Ireland, this means that the grace periods and easements currently in force are extended.

Rules of origin: check compliance now to ensure ongoing tariff-free trade

To access tariff-free trade with the EU, the onus is on businesses to demonstrate that goods qualify by originating in the UK or EU.

This is administratively complex. Proof of originating status relies either on what is called importer’s knowledge, or on an exporter’s statement on origin. In the latter case, suppliers’ declarations can form part of the audit trail. Since 31 December 2020, there has been an easement in place, meaning businesses don’t need a suppliers’ declaration in place when goods are exported to claim preference – though they must be confident that the goods do meet the preferential rules of origin set out in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Time is now running out. The easement ends on 31 December 2021. From 1 January 2022, suppliers’ declarations are needed, and there may be retrospective checks on transactions since 1 January 2021. Make sure you have everything in place in your supply chain to enable ongoing access to tariff-free trade.

New EU export health certificates: new timetable

The EU has delayed the use of new Export Health Certificates (EHCs). Originally due to come into force from 21 August 2021, the start date is now 15 January 2022. Current EHCs, signed before 15 January 2022, can be used until 15 March 2022 for goods en route to the EU. Exporters are, however, encouraged to start moving towards use of the new EHCs so as to be ready for full implementation in January.

The EHCs are needed to export all products of animal origin, live animals, germinal products and composite products to the EU. They are also needed for movements from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland.

Extra time for product conformity marking

Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) has had a new domestic goods regulation regime in place since 1 January 2021, with a new product marking: the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking.

The UKCA marking is used for manufactured goods placed on the market in Great Britain, and covers most cases where the CE marking would have been used previously. It is also used for aerosol products that used the reverse epsilon marking.

To give businesses time to make the necessary changes, there is a temporary concession allowing the CE marking to continue to be used in many cases. This was due to expire on 31 December 2021. The government, however, has recently announced that it will not now mandate use of the UKCA marking until 1 January 2023 – though it encourages its adoption as soon as possible.

It should be noted that the CE marking is only valid in Great Britain for areas where rules are the same as those in the EU. Should EU rules change, the UKCA marking might need to be adopted earlier.

There may be steps you need to take to make sure products are compliant in order to continue selling them in Great Britain from 1 January 2023. If, for example, your business manufactures, imports or distributes goods that need to be tested by a conformity assessment body, you need to factor in the time for the testing process to be sure you will be ready on time.

Sales in the EU. Products for sale in the EU need a CE marking. The new UKCA marking is not recognised there.

Northern Ireland. There are different rules for product conformity marking that apply to Northern Ireland.

Navigating the rules for imports and exports needs considerable care, and it is essential to be up to date with the latest timetabling. If we can be of further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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