We won’t pretend we’re certain whether a deal will be made, whether we’ll leave with no deal, or even whether there might be another postponement. But there are still a few things we know for sure. And there are some essential steps in preparing for Brexit, if you’re shipping to Europe.

Leaving the Single Market means:

  • Every consignment shipped into the EU will need a customs declaration.
  • Inspections will take place on some of the good being exported or brought into the country.

It might also mean:

  • Increased transport times due to customs checks.
  • Customs handling fees increasing the cost of shipping.

Those four are locked in whether we leave with or without a deal.

If you already regularly ship outside the EU, you’ll be familiar with a lot of the extra requirements for shipping.

If you only sell in the UK and the EU, one of the biggest shifts will be the increased importance of your EORI number.

What is EORI?

If you’re already familiar with the EORI’s role in imports and exports, you can safely skip this section.

EORI stands for Economic Operator Registration and Identification. Every business involved in import and export should have an EORI number. These are assigned by HMRC. They’re used when goods are shipped internationally. Because of the Single Market, we haven’t had to use them for EU destinations, but we now will.

This means if you’ve only been selling inside the EU, you may not have needed to know about them.

Getting or Checking Your EORI Number

Most UK businesses which already have an EORI number will be fine. If your number doesn’t start with GB, however, you’re going to need a replacement.

If your business is VAT registered, you may have an EORI number and not know it. As part of the government’s preparations for Brexit, HMRC has automatically issued these to over 88,000 VAT registered companies.

There is also a portal to apply for your EORI number here. It’s not clear how fast these applications are being processed, so we encourage you to apply as quickly as possible. You’ll need this number as soon as the 31st October.

Using Your EORI Number

Make sure you have your EORI number ready to add to your Cloud Commerce Pro system when we tell you. That way, when your system books an overseas order, it will include the EORI number into your courier information. Just as with HS codes, transmitting this information ahead of time is now standard. It also allows shipping paperwork to be done in advance of delivery – a huge benefit in shipping time overall.

If you don’t have an EORI number, you will not be able to ship into the EU.

Exporting and VAT

WTO rules permit duty to be charged on parcels shipped into the EU with a value of €150 or higher. For existing third countries, this duty can vary wildly according to the type of products shipped.

You’ll need to have each order’s HS codes absolutely correct. Customers will not appreciate increased duties, fines, or delays caused by inaccurate code listing.

See how to upload your product HS Codes to Cloud Commerce Pro

As with EORI numbers, these codes can be entered into your Cloud Commerce Pro system and will be handled for you after that.

B2B businesses may need to provide VAT numbers on the shipping paperwork as well as the invoice. This is so Customs within the EU can handle VAT correctly.

Customs Notices

All packages will need customs declarations associated with them. While some couriers will accept digital-only declarations, you may need to apply customs documents to each package destined for the EU, just as you already do for packages going elsewhere.

There is some speculation that some EU destinations may ask for paper invoices and labels to be attached to speed up on-the-spot handling. This would only happen if the extra checks start to create backlogs.

You’ll need either a CN22 or CN23 label. Which you need is based on package value. If the total value is £270 or below, use a CN22. If it is higher, you’ll need to use a CN23 document attached to the package in a document wallet.

Your selected courier will pass these back to Cloud Commerce Pro along with your label.

Are You Ready for Brexit Shipping?

We recommend you make sure the following points are covered:

  • EORI number obtained and added to Cloud Commerce Pro
  • HS codes added to your goods – using the 10-digit code rather than the 8-digit version where available
  • Include product country of origin in product data
  • Update product values so the correct values are supplied for invoices or customs declarations.
  • Match product descriptions against commodity codes for compliance
  • Make sure required information is all in your Cloud Commerce Pro system to supply to couriers
  • Update purchase systems to ensure recipient telephone numbers are captured as well as addresses
  • Review Delivery Policy and make sure it’s up to date

As always, your Account Manager and our Support Team will be happy to advise if you encounter any difficulty updating your records on our system.

In terms of the outcome of Brexit, sorry we can’t give you any idea what to expect! 😊