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How to prepare for the UK's exit from the EU

The Nagel-Group checklist

2020 marks the end of the transitional period for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Until then, EU rules will continue to apply to all commercial transactions with UK companies, taxes and customs duties. At the same time, 31/12/2020 is the final deadline for politicians to have agreed on a free trade agreement. If not, there will be a ‘No-Deal Brexit’. We briefly explain the consequences of both scenarios and what you need to do to be well prepared for Brexit.

X No-Deal

In the absence of a free trade agreement, World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules will apply. This would mean that trade between the UK and EU countries would be subject to the same tariffs as other third countries, such as the US or China. Imported goods and services will be subject to applicable value-added tax and/or excise duty. Britain will also be free to design its immigration laws and will not have to comply with EU legislation or contribute to the EU budget. On the other hand, they will lose access to the EU internal market and, according to WTO estimates, will be faced with annual costs of around €12 billion in import duties alone.

✓ Deal

Depending on the terms still to be negotiated, a customs union could still be agreed. Special arrangements, such as those with Canada or Switzerland, which provide for free movement of people or access to the domestic market, could still, in theory, be made. Irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations, all applicable customs formalities will have to be complied with, even if there is no monetary charge. This means that there will be a considerable increase in formalities and costs even if both sides agree on a free trade agreement in sufficient time.

Businesses who trade between the EU and the UK need to be prepared for new regulations whatever the outcome. Here is an overview of relevant issues for transactions with UK companies from 1 January 2021 onwards.


The EORI number is used for tax registration and identification. It is only used in trade with third countries – and Great Britain will definitely be in this group from 2021 onwards. Traders must, therefore, register with the customs authorities; otherwise, they will no longer be able to export or import goods.

HS commodity code

All goods have a code number that allows customs to allocate the correct taxes and duties to the product. It is not yet clear how high the rates will be. However, one thing is certain: you will need to label your exports to the UK with the correct commodity code from 2021.

You can find the correct commodity codes for your products at https://trade.ec.europa.eu/tradehelp/eu-product-classification-system/


A licence is required to import certain products. This applies, for example, to plants and animals, and a number of products from the same category. Certificates of origin may also be required for some product groups.

You can find out the documentation you need to prepare in respect of your goods at www.gov.uk and https://trade.ec.europa.eu/.


All data relevant for customs clearance not only has to be displayed directly on the goods but should also be logged in your system. This includes all identification numbers and documents that need to be valid and in place for import or transit:

HS Classification Number – identification of the product

EORI number – identification of the trader

Master Reference Number (MRN) – proof of complete customs declaration

DDS/FAS – registration to facilitate customs payments

Product conformity – product compliance with regulations of the target region

Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) – for transit via Great Britain

Deferral account

You must already have an appropriate deferral account, or open a new one, if you want to be able to defer payment of VAT and import duties on imports. Alternatively, you will have to appoint a representative to deal with the levies.


Please make explicit agreements with your business partners about responsibilities for customs clearance for both the respective export and import, as well as anticipated duties, by defining the appropriate Incoterms.

Turnaround times

In the case of standard procedures, submission and approval of customs declarations is subject to locally responsible customs offices’ hours of business. Each country has different regulations about the times and places where goods must be made available and additional lead times during which consignment data must be submitted in advance. Please take this into account when planning your schedule.

Your strong partner – together through Brexit

If you do not wish to submit your customs declarations yourself, you can also have your goods cleared by Nagel-Group. You will be able to find a custom-fit solution in conjunction with our specialists for all import/export-related topics after Brexit. This will help you avoid unnecessary complications with the comfort of having Nagel-Group, a strong and expert partner, at your side during this challenging transitional period.

Get in touch with us now! Together, we will develop a tailor-made solution on how to best prepare your logistics operation for Brexit.

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