It is over six years now since we voted to leave the EU and we left the EU customs union on the 31st of December 2020.
Up until the end of 2020 sending a shipment to an EU country was a very straightforward process and in many ways, it was the same as arranging delivery in the UK – this was the whole point of the customs union, to create one huge domestic market.
The current shipping situation
As we have now left the customs union, it means that to send goods to the EU, an export customs entry is needed in order for customs permission to be granted to leave the UK and similarly, an import customs entry is required in the EU country of destination in order for the import to be authorised and the delivery arranged.
The customs issues especially have caused concern and anxiety for many UK companies, turning what used to be a simple delivery process into one that is very much more complicated and full of potential pitfalls, that potentially could incur a lot of unforeseen additional costs.
The end result is that many companies have stopped selling to EU countries, deciding the process is just too difficult and the risks of anything going wrong with consequent unforeseeable additional costs are just too great to contemplate. It would be right to say that any company that tried to despatch goods and ignore the various new procedures and rules that have been put in place since January 2021, would find themselves in something of a mess, with goods stuck, extra charges being incurred and substantial delays caused by customs detaining goods until the correct procedures are followed – something they tend to take a dim view of.
This has left many of the exports to the EU and for that matter imports from the EU to UK, being booked by large companies who have both the resources to get up to speed with the procedures involved and are obliged to trade with EU customers anyway.
Exporting to the EU can be done successfully by SMEs
Sending goods to the EU is though completely practical and not fraught with difficulty, so long as the customs rules here in the UK and also in the EU are followed!
There are some golden rules that must be adhered to, the main ones being:
- Your sales invoice needs to show full information including net weights, gross weights, values, currency, your customer’s full details and incoterms, a link incoterms is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incoterms.
Your customer needs to be prepared to be an importer and not just see themselves as a delivery address. Deliveries to customers who see themselves as a delivery address only are just not going to be practical. The same goes for deliveries to unregistered businesses or individuals. We cannot despatch to these due to the complicated/impossible nature of the clearance on arrival at the destination in the EU
Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the process of exporting to the EU and if you decide to take the plunge and start selling to EU customers please contact us at K&L Freight on 01606 272880 or email@example.com