A Brexit update for customers

The UK officially left the European Union on 31st January, 2020, entering into a transition period set to last until 31st December, 2020. During this time, the EU and UK have been conducting negotiations over a future trading relationship, the outcome of which is yet to be determined. Your shipping processes remain unchanged until the end of the transition period, however it is important that you be aware of the various ways in which things may change and what you can do to prepare.

While nothing will change until after 31st December 2020, the negotiations will shape the future trading terms between the UK and EU. As it stands there are two likely scenarios under which future UK-EU trade will be conducted and they are as follows:

A Free Trade Agreement (FTA): Details of this are still unknown, but broadly speaking it is expected that tariffs and quotas would not be applied to the majority of goods traded between the UK and EU. However, there could be some exemptions, and as such it is unlikely that an FTA would completely eliminate the need for customs checks, and so additional paperwork and formalities could apply.

WTO Terms: In the event that an FTA cannot be agreed, then the UK and EU will trade on World Trade Organisation terms. Shipments will be subject to customs clearance and inspections, with tariffs being imposed on goods shipped from the UK into EU countries and from EU countries into the UK.

In either case, it is important that our customers are aware of upcoming changes to shipping processes - both to the EU and into Northern Ireland - so that together we can transition into 2021 as seamlessly as possible. In order to help, we have detailed below some key points for consideration, and provided some helpful links that will enable you to register for key components to enable continuation of trade for you and your customers.

Registering for an EORI Number

An Economic Operator and Registration and Identification number (EORI) is a European Union requirement for businesses which import or export goods to and from the European Union. If you don’t currently trade outside of the EU and haven’t already registered for an EORI number, then you will need to do so in order to continue trading with the EU after 31st December 2020. The process is simple and takes ten minutes, and applications can be made through the UK Government website at the below link:


Commercial Invoices

After 31st December, 2020, commercial invoices will be needed for all shipments going to EU countries and Northern Ireland. These are documents which clearly identify the products within the shipment through use of tariff codes, and also accurately declare the full value of the goods for customs purposes. It is the sender’s responsibility to ensure that commercial invoices are provided and completed accurately so that any customs charges that may be applicable can be calculated and charged. Failure to provide commercial invoices or to complete them correctly could lead to delayed clearance through customs and subsequently delayed delivery to the consignee. Advice on correctly completing commercial invoices can be found using the below link.


Tariff Codes

When completing commercial invoices, it is important to use the correct tariff codes to identify the products contained within the shipment. If incorrect tariffs are applied, then it could result in delayed clearance and delivery, and also incorrect customs charges being applied. Advice and information on tariff codes can be found using the below link.


Trader Support Service (TSS)

Specific to shipments into Northern Ireland, the TSS is on hand to advise on how to correctly prepare shipments for delivery into the region. This includes information on how goods will move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, details on how declarations can be completed on the shipper’s behalf and how you can move goods on behalf of others. Please use the link below to find out more.


Tuffnells Parcels Express is continuing to work in the background to ensure that our processes and systems are compliant, so that we can continue supporting our customers with shipments to the EU and into Northern Ireland as we have done for many years. We will update you regularly so that you are informed, up to date and enabled to continue trading into 2021 and beyond. Further information is coming soon regarding our IT services, clearance processes and service offering into the impacted regions, so please keep an eye out for the next Tuffnells update.

The Tuffnells Team