This is the starting point for advice about exporting goods from Britain to countries in the European Union from January 2021, including a checklist of actions to consider.
Selling physical and digital goods to EU customers has been clarified and more importantly simplified significantly with the new EU regulation. VAT must be paid on all sales to EU customers according to the assumed country of consumption.
There are 4 ways to handle such sales:
- The seller is now given the possibility to collect VAT at checkout. To take advantage of the new VAT regulation the seller must register for an IOSS number. UK companies are required to have an Intermediary who will handle the registration, filing and in some instances the payment of VAT. This is applicable for goods with VAT zero value below 150€ only. Using IOSS the delivery is faster cheaper and without unpleasant surprise fees on delivery. Digital goods require the use of a different VAT scheme, the non-Union scheme. There are no thresholds or requirement for Intermediary.
- Second option is to arrange for a Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) with a courier (postal world does not have it). You should collect VAT, duties if over 150€ goods and customs fees at checkout. Your logistics partner will invoice you instead of the customer for them, facilitating good customer experience. Comes at a high cost and is suitable for higher value shipments generally.
- Third option is Delivered Duty Unpaid - which is simply poor customer service and is not recommended. Your logistics partner will invoice the customer on delivery for VAT, duties and customs process. Slow, expensive and surprise costs.
- Selling via marketplace removes the VAT liability from merchant. Marketplace handles everything on their behalf, from calculation to reporting to payment. It tends to come at a high cost, however.
All businesses now need to check whether they should make customs declarations when exporting goods to the EU. Details of how to do this yourself are here, and guidance for getting others—like freight forwarders or customs agents—to do the job for you is here.
Rules on the exports of books have not changed, though licences will be needed for some other goods. Customers can be charged VAT at 0%.
Businesses that export goods to the EU need an EORI number from January. You can obtain one easily here. If you already have an EORI but it does not start with GB, you will need to obtain a new one.
Export partners in EU countries should also be ready to make any necessary import customs declarations.
Advice for accounting for VAT on services—including digital—after Brexit is here.
If you are selling books to VAT-registered businesses in EU countries, paperwork should designate the customer as the importer. This means the customer is responsible for dealing with VAT issues. Distributors should handle the appropriate designation on your behalf; check with them if you have any doubt.
From the conclusion of the UK’s transition period at the end of June 2021, new rules requiring businesses to register for VAT in customers’ countries came into force. They include a requirement to pay import VAT on goods valued at up to 22 Euros, which had previously been exempt. All shipments are levied with assumed country of consumption VAT, regardless of value.
After the changes, options include registration at the Import One-Stop Shop, a portal that helps businesses exporting goods to collect, declare and pay VAT, rather than making the buyer pay for it. Businesses may also pass on the extra charges to the purchaser, which must be paid before goods are received.
You may need to familiarise yourself with rules of origin, which establish the source of imported and exported goods and help to show where customs duty applies. Government guidance is here and a guide from the European Commission is here. There is a more practical guide to securing preferential tariffs, and a short video explainer about rules of origin.
Specific guidance for moving goods into—or out of or via—Northern Ireland is here. A Trader Support Service is available to help with changes in Northern Ireland. It can complete customs declarations for you, and has useful ‘how to’ guides, online training and webinars.
The government has separate guidance about exporting goods to countries outside the European Union.
Commodity or customs codes on products in ONIX have caused some confusion, and EDItEUR has provided some useful guidance to common issues here. If your ONIX feeds are handled by a platform provider, they should be able to help you with any updates that are required.
General advice about exporting is available from the Department for International Trade. Details of local trade offices are here, and you can make direct contact with advisers here.
The DIT has run a series of webinars to help exporters prepare for transition-related changes. Details of forthcoming ones are here, and you can watch a previous webinar again here.
For specific enquiries about exports and customs, businesses can contact advisers via email, webchat or phone. Details are here.