Customs procedures post Brexit: promises and procrastination from UK Government

26 January 2018

26 January 2018 by Sue Rathmell VAT

Following today’s government response to the Home Affairs Committee report on customs operations post Brexit, Sue Rathmell, VAT Director, comments on the need for concrete government action to allow businesses to get cracking and prepare for any changes:

The government has responded in a characteristically upbeat fashion to the Home Affairs Committee’s warnings around how the Home Office is handling the customs operations side of Brexit. Today’s response states that all departments have been working to develop a detailed understanding of how Brexit will affect existing policies, including all aspects of the border; yet this promises no actual deliverables, concrete action or timetables for implementing changes to current arrangements. 

While the government repeatedly reassures us that every department has been ‘working’, ‘planning’, ‘working on planning’, ‘preparing’ and ‘developing’, there is no sign of when businesses will get notice of what will actually happen on 29 March 2019 and thereafter. There are promises to communicate plans to companies during 2018, but as more time passes, businesses are facing a shrinking window to sufficiently prepare for any changes.

Any business which brings goods into the UK from the EU, or sends goods into the EU from the UK, must start reviewing now how they are going to be affected. They should seek advice about what customs schemes or supply chain changes might benefit them, assessing their position to apply for Approved Economic Operator status or the range of other authorisations which may be appropriate. While government departments are dilly-dallying, businesses need to get cracking!

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