HM Revenue and Customs has said it will not implement new import declarations for goods arriving in the UK from the European Union for six months if the UK leaves the bloc next month without an exit deal.
The plans to phase in pre-arrival entry summary declarations were revealed in the latest update on the tax and customs agency’s preparations for a no-deal exit, which was published after HMRC officials met haulage industry representatives on Monday.
Entry summary declarations, which contain information about the goods being imported, would not be required for six months “to give business more time to prepare for changes to EU-UK trade arrangements in the event that the UK leaves without a deal”, financial secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said.
Stride said the government had “listened to businesses and [was] responding to their concerns” by planning to phase in checks in the event that no Brexit deal is agreed.
“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," he said.
“Maintaining continuity with the current system for the first six months and phasing entry summary declarations in will ensure we deliver on that promise.”
After the six-month transition period, carriers will be legally responsible for ensuring entry summary declarations are submitted to HMRC before goods arive in the UK. The mode of transport being used to import goods will determine when forms must be submitted.
HMRC insisted that the move “will not change the UK’s commitment to ensuring our borders remain secure in the event of a no deal”. The Border Force will have 900 extra staff by March 2019 and will continue to carry out intelligence-led checks, it said. A readiness task force is also being recruited in preparation for EU exit.
The update comes after HMRC said earlier this month that it would allow goods to be brought into the UK before the goods have been declared for customs purposes for “a temporary period”.
The headline of this story was changed to correct that it is entry summary declarations for good, not customs declarations, that will be phased in