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Brexit: A brief history and updates


Following the result of the referendum in 2016, on 1 January 2021 Great Britain left the European Union, and was no longer a member of the single market or the customs union.

Northern Ireland remained part of the EU when dealing with goods, but part of the UK when dealing with services. This was set out in the Northern Ireland protocol to prevent a 'hard' border on the island of Ireland.

Goods entering Great Britain are now treated as imports and goods leaving Great Britain are exports. This includes trading in goods with Northern Ireland.

Scroll down for the latest updates.


The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) signed with the EU which meant that most goods imported from the EU were subject to a nil rate of duty.

The main impact of this is on businesses involved in moving goods to and from the EU. The TCA means that such transactions should not be subject to tariffs (AKA duties) or quotas.

The real issue is whether the goods originate in Great Britain or the EU. If they do, this can mean for some businesses that there is no requirement to have a duty deferment account as there will be no duties incurred; but, please check before relinquishing your account.

Goods originating outside the EU may have duties imposed on their importation.

Import VAT

It is the importer that incurs UK import VAT. Trading parties need to agree incoterms which will determine who is responsible for clearing the goods into Great Britain.

Import VAT is both charged and pays the import VAT, then recovers the same (subject to normal rules) using a C79 form from HMRC as evidence.

There is also a postponement system for import VAT, which can apply to imports from anywhere not just the EU, but importers, will need to ensure that their shipper/carrier has been instructed to complete the necessary documents correctly to show that this system is preferred as it is not the default.

EC Sales List/Intrastat

For sales of goods to the EU after 11.00pm on 31 December 2020, there was no requirement for EC Sales Lists to be competed or Intrastat forms; but for imports from the EU, Intrastat were required for 2021 to enable import data to be collected.

For the majority of UK businesses there is no longer acquisition VAT (Box 2) but there will be for Northern Ireland hence the VAT return boxes remain unchanged, although entries in Boxes 2, 8 and 9 should only apply to businesses in Northern Ireland.


Whilst most services are unaffected, the reverse charge will still apply for services bought in from outside the UK, the fact that Great Britain is no longer part of the EU will affect the VAT treatment of certain supplies.

For example, businesses making supplies subject to the ‘foreign and specified’ rules can now count customers in the EU as generating VAT recoveries rather than just those outside the UK and EU.

For the period up to January 2022, updates can be found on the Rickard Luckin Brexit Hub .

Since then, updates are below:

22 February 2022: CHIEF v CDS

The existing system to record imports and exports (CHIEF) is being phased out and replaced by the Customs Declaration Service (CDS).

Currently, imports from the rest of the world into Northern Ireland need to be via CDS.

From 30 September 2022, CDS will have to be used to record all imports into the UK.

The CHIEF system is due to close on 31 March 2023 and all imports and exports must be recorded through CDS.

Importers using the postponed import VAT scheme will also need to register for CDS to view their monthly statements.

The link to register for CDS can be found on GOV.UK: Subscribe to the Customs Declaration Service .

28 April 2022: New import rules scrapped

The government has announced that the remaining import controls on EU goods, due to be implemented on 1 July 2022, will no longer be introduced this year.

Instead, traders will continue to move their goods from the European Union to Great Britain as they do now.

The government said that it would now review how to implement these remaining controls in an improved way. The new Target Operating Model is based on a better assessment of risk and will harness the power of data and technology. It will be published in the autumn and the new controls regime will come into force at the end of 2023.

20 July 2022: Origination

Where goods originate from (which can be where the last significant process took place rather than where created) can determine if their import is subject to duty.

Under the 2020 TCA with the EU, goods originating from the EU should not be subject to a positive rate of Duty. HMRC are now aware of this being used to reduce the cost of an import rather than reflect the true origin of the goods. Therefore. They are looking to undertake more tests that are also more stringent to establish the origin of certain goods.

22 July 2022: Postponed import VAT statements

HMRC has updated its guidance on accounting for import VAT where the business is using postponed VAT accounting, to address a problem with statements produced in June 2022.

HMRC has confirmed that if a person downloaded their June 2022 statement before 13 July 2022, they should not use that statement to complete their VAT return. To access their replacement statement, the person should go to the statement page on their dashboard and download the version that has replaced the older version. The new statement will have a publication date of 18 or 19 July.

For more information or for a particular enquiry, please contact Ian Marrow via our online enquiry form .

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