Brexit. The UK has published its contingency plans for a ‘no deal’ scenario

On 23 August 2018 the UK Government published the first 25 of a series of technical notices setting out the information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in case of a ‘no deal’ scenario, so they can make informed plans and preparations. Some of these notices cover the import and export sector and trade more broadly.

The Government has highlighted that currently business can move goods freely between EU Member States, with no need to submit any import or export declaration. Goods subject to excise duty can also move freely between the UK and the EU as the excise duty is suspended in the internal market.

Without an agreement, the free circulation of goods between the UK and EU would cease as of 29 March 2019 at 23:00 GMT. Business will have to apply the same customs and excise rules to goods moving between the UK and the EU as currently apply in cases where goods move between the UK and a country outside of the EU. The EU will apply customs and excise rules to goods it receives from the UK, in the same way it does for goods it receives from outside of the EU. This means that the EU would require customs declarations on goods coming from, or going to, the UK, as well as requiring safety and security declarations. The Excise Movement Control System (EMCS) would no longer be used to control suspended movements between the EU and the UK. However, EMCS would continue to be used to control the movement of duty suspended excise goods within the UK, including movements to and from UK ports, airports and the Channel tunnel.

As of the Brexit date, businesses importing from the EU will need to register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number and ensure their contracts and International Terms and Conditions of Service (INCOTERMS) reflect that they are now importers. Businesses will also need to determine the correct classification and value of their goods and include this information in the customs declaration. Similar provision are also valid for businesses exporting to the EU.

Carriers moving goods between the UK and the EU will need to make a Safety and Security Declaration for goods moving between the UK and EU. There are two types of Safety and Security Declarations: an Exit Summary Declaration (EXS) and an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS).

With regard to the Ireland/Northern Ireland border, the Government has reiterated its will to uphold the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday Agreement). In case of a ‘no-deal’ scenario, the Government has said that “… the UK would stand ready to engage constructively to meet its commitments and act in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland, recognising the very significant challenges that the lack of a UK-EU legal agreement would pose in this unique and highly sensitive context. This would include engagement on arrangements for land border trade…”.

Finally, the UK Government has invited businesses to consider the impacts on their policies of a ‘no deal’ scenario, which would mean a requirement to apply the same customs and excise rules to goods traded with the EU that apply for goods traded outside of the EU, including the requirement to submit customs declarations. Businesses should consider whether it is appropriate for them to acquire software and/or engage a customs broker, freight forwarder or logistics provider to support them with these new requirements.


Davide Scavuzzo