Brexit – the keys to a smoother transition

While politicians continue to negotiate trade agreements, and uncertainty persists about the final shape of our future deal with Europe, the path to a smooth transition to trading outside of the EU is not clear. If a deal isn’t reached, then the UK will default to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.

What this means for businesses is that there will be different rules for every country in the world that you trade. Equally, the UK will apply its own rules on goods entering the country, from the EU and anywhere else in the world. At Cygnia, we have been working with our customers, throughout 2020, to help them prepare for the changes ahead. This includes making sure the fundamentals are in place to make the transition as smooth as possible.

There is, however, no avoiding the fact that change is happening. Changes that will impact on costs, delivery times and paperwork. So, what do you need to do?

1 – Talk to your logistics partner

Brexit is something we have been preparing for over many years. Our services, processes and people are all geared up to help with the practicalities, including duties, VAT, customs declarations and paperwork.

2 – Know your numbers

After January 1st 2021, all businesses that export to Europe will need an EORI number. Apply early, as it can take up to a week to get one. Without one, you will face inevitable disruption in the New Year.

Another essential is the eight-digit Commodity Codes or HS codes for products that are imported or exported. These are recognised over the world, including within the EU.

Finally, the value the customer has paid and weight, in kg, of the parcel including packaging, need to be added to the paperwork, along with the recipient’s address and telephone number.

3 – Get your descriptions spot on

General descriptions, such as ‘clothing’ or ‘gifts’ ‘shoes’ or ‘trainers’, will not impress; you need to be specific, for example, ‘men’s black denim jeans’ or ‘ladies black leather footwear’.

Country of origin also needs to be declared using a two-digit code e.g. FR for France.

4 – Reason for export

Exports fall into three categories: sale, return/replacement or gift, and one of these also has to be included on the paperwork.

With all of the disruption caused by COVID, it’s easy to forget that new rules come into force on January 1st 2021. While it may be difficult to predict the outcome of talks over the coming weeks, taking the steps above and working closely with your logistics partner, will help minimise disruption and delays.

For more advice, or support on your smooth transition to a post-EU trading world, get in touch with a member of the team.