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What small businesses need to know about shipping parcels to the EU after the Brexit transition

What small businesses need to know about shipping parcels to the EU after the Brexit transition
Dan Martin
Dan Martin
Freelance content creator & event host
Dan Martin Content & Events
 

Posted: Wed 9th Dec 2020

_With less than a month to go until the end of the transition period for Britain's exit from the EU, there are new rules that businesses need to aware of when sending goods to the EU. That includes small businesses who send parcels using the Royal Mail and other parcel operators.

There has been some confusion about what these businesses need to do so this guide clarifies the changes._

If you've got any questions or experiences you'd like to share about preparing your business for the end of the Brexit transition period, please email Dan.

Sending parcels through the post

Popping to the Post Office is a common activity among UK entrepreneurs as many small businesses use the standard postal system to send products to customers.

From 1 January 2021, if you sending goods to the European Union from Great Britain that are worth under £900 or less (£872 in Northern Ireland) via the post, you'll need to fill in a short customs declaration form and attach it to the parcel. You do not need a UK EORI number.

If the goods are valued at £901 or more (£873 in Northern Ireland), you will need to make a full customs declaration and you do need a UK EORI number.

EORI stands for Economic Operators Registration and Identification. It is a unique code used to track and register customs information in the EU.

You can apply for an EORI number via the government website here. Note that it can take up to a week to get a number so you should apply as soon as possible if you think you need one.

Rules may be different in Northern Ireland. The government's Trader Support Service has been set up to provide free advice and training. Register here.

Sending goods using a courier and other parcel operators

If you use a courier or another parcel operator, they may handle the process for you. If so, you do not need a UK EORI number. Check with your parcel operator as soon as you can so you can be ready for exporting from 1 January 2021. This is a list of fast parcel operators here.

If they don't manage the process, you will need submit a full customs declaration (if appropriate) and you do need a UK EORI number.

Rules may be different in Northern Ireland. The government's Trader Support Service has been set up to provide free advice and training. Register here.

Carrying goods outside the UK yourself

If you carry goods to the EU yourself in a suitcase or small vehicle, they must be declared before you leave the UK. To make the declaration, you need a UK EORI number.

For goods worth £1,500 or more or goods classed as excise or restricted, you'll need to make a full customs declaration.

For all other goods you can make a declaration in person to a border force official at the port or make a declaration on the government's GOV.UK website here up to five working days before departing.

Dealing with full customs declarations

Full customs declarations are complicated so if you are required to submit them from 1 January 2021 when sending goods to the EU, the government advises that you should use a specialist customs intermediary or agent. There is a list of customs intermediaries here.

The video below explains more.

If you decide to submit customs declarations yourself or you would like to better understand the process, you can apply for a £1,000 grant to cover the cost of training. There are also bigger grants available to cover recruitment, training and IT to help customs intermediaries increase their capacity to complete customs declarations.

More guidance on the grants is available here and you can apply for funding here.

Sending goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The government has delayed changes to sending most goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland until 31 March 2021.

If you are using an express carrier or Royal Mail to send excise goods or restricted and prohibited goods, you should inform the carrier or Royal Mail. They will then tell you if they carry the type of goods you want to send and, if they do, they will ask you to provide any additional information that they need so that a declaration can be made. They will then ask you to provide them with any additional information that they need so that a declaration can be made.

If you are sending any other goods you can continue to do so as usual, with no new requirements.

Full government guidance is here.

Details about changes from 1 April 2021 have not yet been published but if you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, you should sign up to the government's Trader Support Service for free advice and training. Register here.

If you've got any questions or experiences you'd like to share about preparing your business for the end of the Brexit transition period, please email Dan.

Related Brexit advice:

A sector-by-sector guide to how businesses can prepare for Brexit

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Dan Martin
Dan Martin
Freelance content creator & event host
Dan Martin Content & Events
 
I'm a freelance content creator and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I have 18 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from billionaires like Sir Richard Branson to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community and have strong connections to major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 50 events; from intimate meet-ups to conferences with an audience of hundreds including events for international brands like Facebook and Xero. I'm also a big fan of podcasts having hosted Enterprise Nation's Small Business Sessions as well as lots of online events including Facebook Live interviews, webinars and three live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography. I'm here to help. I'm volunteering free advice calls of up to an hour as part of the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, over the next 6 months. Please get in touch to see how I can help your business. 
 

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