Companies across the country are monitoring the Brexit situation closely, and within the last few months the British International Freight Association (BIFA) has praised HMRC on their rethink on No Deal Brexit arrangements.

In February, HMRC wrote to over 145,000 businesses to announce simplifying importing procedures, and updating them on the actions they needed to take to prepare. These Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) were created to ease any problems that organisations would have by allowing faster importation.

When the TSP was first announced, Treasury Minister, Mel Stride MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Leaving the EU with a deal remains the government’s top priority. This has not changed. However, a responsible government must plan for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario. Businesses and citizens should ensure they are similarly prepared for leaving the EU.

HMRC is helping businesses get prepared and, amongst other significant communications, has written 3 times to affected businesses, each time stepping up the advice and encouraging them to take action. This latest letter, and new GOV.UK guidance, announces Transitional Simplified Procedures for EU trade which will ease the transition, especially for businesses new to the rules associated with importing.

In response, BIFA said they felt in no uncertain terms, that the proposed arrangements in the event of a no-deal scenario were biased against existing traders. Now, with the announcements from HMRC of amendments to its original statement, Robert Keen, BIFA Director General, was quick to praise the authorities, saying:

Having criticised HMRC when it originally published its Transitional Simplified Procedures in February, we now welcome the news that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the date when the first supplementary customs declarations must be submitted, and any import duties must be paid, has been extended to October 4.

We also welcome the news that TSP will be available for any port or airport where goods are being brought into the UK from the EU, not just RoRo (Roll-on/Roll-off) ports. But most importantly, we are pleased that HMRC has agreed to allow freight forwarders to operate TSP on behalf of their clients.

BIFA lobbied hard against the TSP with a positive end result. On Friday 22nd March, an extension was announced. This now gives more time for freight forwarders, both old and new, to make the necessary preparations, and for the HMRC to fully test the system, establish communications between all parties involved, and make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities.

However, it is also important to note that of the 145,000 UK businesses that are registered for VAT that only trade within the UK only 40,000 have applied for an Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI). Businesses without a valid EORI number will not be able to trade until they have one. You can read the information on this here.

It will be interesting to see what impact the recent political changes have on the freight industry as a whole, and we will keep you updated over the coming months.

To find out more about TSPs and how businesses can prepare, take a look at the guidance from the Government on registering for simplified import procedures, and how to make declarations using transitional simplified procedures.

If you would like to discuss anything you have read in this article, or would like to understand how a freight forwarder could benefit your business, please get in touch with a member of our team today.