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November 26, 2020 - 2 Minutes leestijd

Brexit has had a major impact on the VAT and customs regulations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. That also applies to online retailers like you. This article contains everything you need to know: all the links and documents you need to send parcels to the United Kingdom after 31 December 2020.

 

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As you probably know, the United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Until 31 December 2020, Brexit did not have much of an impact. On 1 January 2021, however, the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union changed drastically. This also affects shipments to and from the United Kingdom. What exactly has changed? And what do you need to be aware of when you send parcels? Here's an overview.

 

Which countries are affected?

The changes affect all shipments to and from England, Scotland and Wales. Nothing changes for Ireland and Northern Ireland. Because the Republic of Ireland is part of the European Union and Northern Ireland is within the European Union’s customs union, the rules for sending within the EU apply.

 

What changed on 1 January 2021?

From 1 January 2021, VAT and customs regulations make a distinction based on the value of goods sent to the United Kingdom. The threshold is £135. These are the new rules:

 

• Goods not exceeding £135 in value

The goods are liable to United Kingdom VAT. There is no import VAT.

 

• Goods exceeding £135 in value

The goods are liable to United Kingdom VAT. There is an import VAT of approximately 20%.

 

All details on the changes are available on the British government website.

 

To whom do these new rules apply?

The regulations apply to anyone who sells goods professionally and ships them to the United Kingdom:

  • Sales through a private webshop
  • Sales through an online marketplace
  • Direct sales (e.g. by phone or email)

 

What do you need from 1 January 2021?

If you want to sell goods and ship them to the United Kingdom, you will need four things. Here's how you can obtain them:

 

1. Government Gateway ID (HMRC)

Create your Government Gateway ID here.

 

2. United Kingdom VAT number

Apply for a United Kingdom VAT number here.

If you already have one, there is no need to request a new one.

 

3. United Kingdom EORI number

Apply for a United Kingdom EORI number here.

 

4. HS (Harmonised System) codes for the goods you are sending

Just like any other shipment leaving the EU, every shipment to the United Kingdom needs to be identified using an HS code. An HS code consists of six to eight digits and enables customs officers to identify the type of goods contained in the parcel. If the HS code is not stated or is incorrect, customs authorities can hold, delay or refuse the shipment. Find the HS codes here.

 

What do you need to do if you sell and ship goods NOT EXCEEDING £135 in value?

On 1 January 2021, Low Value Consignment Relief, i.e. the VAT exemption for goods valued at £15 or less, was abolished. This is the new procedure for selling and shipping an item not exceeding £135 in value:

 

1. Charge the United Kingdom VAT

Charge the United Kingdom VAT at the time of sale. In most cases, this is 20%. There is no import VAT.

 

2. Provide all the necessary customs details

Any parcel sent to the United Kingdom must contain the necessary customs documents:

  • Fill out all required fields of the CN 22/23 documents: sender, addressee, HS code, country of origin of the contents, consignment details (description, quantity, weight, value or contents) and postage fees. Attach two copies. Download the CN 22/23 document here.
  • Attach two copies of the (pro forma) invoice.
  • Place all documents in a plastic document sleeve and attach it to the parcel.

 

3. Pay the VAT collected to the United Kingdom

File periodic VAT returns and pay the VAT collected to the British tax authorities.

 

What do you need to do if you sell and ship goods EXCEEDING £135 in value?

Royal Mail will collect the import VAT and UK VAT from the addressee. This is the new procedure for selling and shipping an item exceeding £135 in value:

 

1. Do NOT charge the United Kingdom VAT

Do not charge the United Kingdom VAT at the time of sale. Royal Mail will take care of the tax collection.

 

2. Provide all necessary details for customs

Any parcel sent to the United Kingdom must contain the necessary customs documents:

  • Fill out all required fields of the CN 22/23 documents: sender, addressee, HS code, country of origin of the contents, consignment details (description, quantity, weight, value or contents) and postage fees. Attach two copies. Download the CN 22/23 document here.
  • Attach two copies of the (pro forma) invoice.
  • For consignments valued at €1,000 or more, add a Single Administrative Document.
  • Place all documents in a plastic document sleeve and attach it to the parcel.

 

What about your bpost contract(s) and rates?

As of 1 January 2021, new rates apply for shipments to the United Kingdom. Consignments will be more expensive because of additional administration and customs inspections. The contracts will change as follows:

 

• bpack Europe Business

As of 28 December 2020, you are no longer able to send parcels to the United Kingdom using bpack Europe Business. As an alternative, we suggest bpack World Business. We deliver the parcel to any doorstep, or to a Pick-up Point if the addressee is not available at the time of delivery. No signature is required.

 

• bpack World Business

The new rates correspond with the rates for area 6 in your current bpack World Business contract. They will be modified and applied automatically.

 

• bpack World Express Pro

The new rates will correspond with the rates for area 4 in your current bpack World Express Pro contract. They will be modified and applied automatically.

 

• bpack World Easy Retour

bpack World Easy Retour is only available within the EU. This means that, as of 28 December 2020, your customers are no longer able to return their parcels from the United Kingdom to Belgium using the Easy Return Service (ERS). We are currently looking into a solution to make returns available again.

 

Tip: Landmark Global, bpost's subsidiary for international shipments, can file the export and import declarations for you at the United Kingdom/EU border. Want to know more? Contact your Account Manager.  

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