New post-Brexit rules on bringing goods back to the UK from the EU

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The Brexit transition period ended on 31st December 2020 and there are some changes for travellers who wish to carry goods for personal or commercial use to and from the EU and Northern Ireland.

The new rules are for travellers buying goods for personal use, carrying goods for use in their business and carrying cash. We’ve taken a look and summarised all the changes below.

Good for personal use from EU to GB

Following the end of the Brexit Transition period, those travelling to and from the EU to GB (excluding Northern Ireland) are now treated the same as those travelling to and from non-EU countries. From 1 January 2021:

• Minimum Indicative Levels to establish if goods are for personal use no longer apply.

• Passengers travelling from the EU are subject to personal allowances, the same as non-EU passengers. 

 • If passengers exceed their personal allowances, they will need to pay tax/duty on all the goods in that category, not just the excess amount, the same as non-EU passengers.

The Free Trade Agreement with the EU means passengers travelling from the EU who exceed their personal allowances may be eligible for a preferential customs duty rate of 0% if all of the following apply:

If the goods ‘originate’ (are made or produced) in the EU or they buy the goods in the EU or if they bring the goods into GB direct from the EU. If passengers use the online service to declare goods, the 0% preferential duty rate will be automatically applied based on their responses. If passengers declare at the border, the Border Force Officer will also apply the 0% preferential duty rate based on the information provided. VAT and excise duty may also be due. More information on claiming a preferential rate of customs duty can be found here.

Goods allowed for personal use for EU and non-EU passengers travelling to GB:

Alcohol

42 litres of beer, 18 litres of still wine, 4 litres of spirits or 9 litres of sparkling or fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage below 22% ABV.

Tobacco

200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250gm tobacco or 200 sticks of tobacco for heating or any proportional combination.

Other

Any other goods £390 or £270 if travelling by private boat or plane.

Carrying commercial goods (Merchandise in Baggage) or in accompanied vehicle from EU to GB

Merchandise in Baggage (MiB) means commercial goods intended for business or trade use, carried in luggage or a small motor vehicle. For goods below £1,500 in value and 1,000kg in weight, travellers make a simple online declaration to HMRC and pay duty or tax due up to five working days before arriving in GB. Full details are on www.gov.uk/hmrc/goods-in-baggage.

Travellers can also declare goods and pay duty and tax due using the red channel or red phone where these exist, in the same way as travellers from non-EU countries currently do. For goods above £1,500 in value or 1,000kg in weight, or excise/controlled goods of any value/weight, travellers or their agents submit a full electronic customs declaration to HMRC before arriving in GB. From 1 January 2022, if you are carrying your goods in a goods vehicle, such as a van, and the goods are over a value of £1,500, then a pre-lodged safety and security declaration is required to be submitted to HMRC, either by yourself if you have the appropriate software or through a customs agent, in addition to a full customs import declaration.

These rules exclude excise and controlled goods. You can check what is a controlled item here.

Controls on cash: from EU to GB

Those travelling into GB from the EU with £10,000 or more in cash will need to make a declaration.  They should make a declaration online at www.gov.uk/bringing-cashinto-uk, where they’ll find more information about cash controls.

Alternatively, at ports and airports where there is a red channel, paper declarations will be available. If there is no red channel a red point phone can be used if available. Please note, cash includes notes and coins, bearer bonds, banker’s drafts and cheques.

Goods from EU to Northern Ireland

When travelling from EU to NI there are no changes to the rules for personal use. You can continue to bring unlimited amounts of alcohol and tobacco providing it is for personal use or a gift, and must have been transported by you.  Although there are no limits to the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring in from EU countries, you are more likely to be asked questions if you carry more than the following amounts:

• 800 cigarettes; 200 cigars; 400 cigarillos; 1kg of tobacco; 110 litres of beer

• 90 litres of wine; 10 litres of spirits; 20 litres of fortified wine.

There are no declaration requirements to carry commercial goods (Merchandise in baggage) in luggage or small motor vehicle from EU to Northern Ireland.

Declarations will not be required when carrying any amount of cash between the EU and NI.

The same restrictions apply when bringing goods into Northern Ireland from non-EU countries as apply to the rest of the UK.

Goods for personal use from GB to NI

UK residents do not have to declare goods that they carry from GB to NI, unless UK VAT and/or excise duty has not been paid on the goods and they exceed certain allowances. Non-UK residents travelling from GB to NI must declare goods they are carrying if they exceed their allowances and may have to pay customs duty, if their goods do not qualify for relief. They will only have to pay VAT and/or excise duty if this has not already been paid in the UK. Travellers can check allowance details, make a declaration and pay any tax and duty due using the new online service which is detailed below.

Carrying Commercial Goods (Merchandise in Baggage) in accompanied luggage or a small motor vehicle: from GB to NI

You must get an EORI number and declare the goods to HMRC through the free to use Trader Support Service at www.tradersupportservice.co.uk/tss.

Any declarations can be made through that service regardless of the value or the nature of the goods. You can make an oral declaration if your port of entry has the appropriate facilities and your goods  have a value less than £873 and weigh less than 1,000 kilograms are subject to any prohibition and restriction including alcohol, tobacco or fuel. If your goods are not eligible for an oral declaration, or there are not the facilities for an oral declaration at your port of entry, then you should use the Trader Support Service.

New online service

The HMRC has developed an online declaration service to help travellers, with goods for personal use, check taxes and duties that may be due, declare goods and pay any tax or duty due. They can do this before arrival into GB. The new online service can be found at www.gov.uk/bring-personal-goods-into-uk.

When bringing in goods for business use (Merchandise in Baggage) between GB and the EU that are below the value of £1,500 and 1,000kg in weight, and not classed as excise or controlled goods, travellers can use the new online declarations service at www.gov.uk/hmrc/goods-in-baggage.

Posted by Graham Morley

Graham Morley

Graham is the Business Development Manager for Compare Holiday Money.

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