Paperwork required on EU imports to be suspended for six months

No-deal Brexit: Paperwork required on EU imports to be suspended for six months

The Government has announced plans to temporarily suspend  the pre-arrival forms known as Entry Summary Declarations (ESDs) in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

Currently ESDs are not required when importing goods from the EU and this will continue for a period of six months from 29 March, HMRC confirmed.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride MP said: “We’ve listened to businesses and are responding to their concerns.

“We have been adamant that in the event of no deal, trade must continue at our borders, and we will continue to make our borders secure.

“Maintaining continuity with the current system for the first six months and phasing Entry Summary Declarations in will ensure we deliver on that promise.

The new rules only apply to goods coming from the EU, and will maintain the status quo for carriers. Importers will still be required to submit import declarations for customs purposes – which are not the same as ESDs. 

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) broadly welcomed the move, which it said would allow operators and traders to focus on the many other unresolved border issues post Brexit. 

Commenting, RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett said: “It is clear that Government has listened to us. We have been insistent that the proposal to introduce consignment level Safety and Security Declarations for imported road haulage would be impossible to introduce by 29 March.

"The extension will help but it still isn’t enough. There is no guarantee that businesses will have the necessary processes in place in six months’ time. It’s just a stay of execution. We need practical simplification of the system to ensure that it works for everyone and we will continue to push for this.

“However, the issue of goods leaving the UK and entering the EU by road remains. As things stand the demand will also be for consignment level declarations for these road-based movements.”

The RHA continues to call for massive simplification of the declarations after the six-month suspension. It said Government authorities will obtain the data on all shipments from other sources anyway and demanding a repeat of the same information, as currently planned, to meet unnecessary bureaucratic specifications is “wrongheaded and inappropriate”.

Pauline Bastidon, FTA's Head of Global & European Policy at the Freight Transport Association , said the announcement was a positive step  towards minimising disruptions on trade between the UK and EU and integrated supply chains after Brexit, but  it was imperative that the Government maintains pressure on the EU to ensure that a similar waiver is adopted by the EU. 

She added: “To ensure that Britain can keep trading efficiently, it is vital that the European Commission and UK agree a longer term, more sustainable arrangement to remain in the same security zone, which would make safety and security declarations for UK-EU trade irrelevant.  Above all, it is vital that the UK's supply chain remains as frictionless as possible - British business needs to be confident that goods and materials will continue to transit the nation's borders as swiftly and efficiently as possible."