25 May 2022

UK brands could face major import delays in January 2022

Upcoming changes to import regulations could bring widespread disruption to UK supply chains in the New Year, warns national same day courier company Speedy Freight. Shona Brown, Network Service Manager and Speedy Freight’s resident Brexit expert shares her advice on how to prepare, and warns that there could be immediate financial consequences for brands in the New Year if they are not prepared.

From January 2022, strict new regulations to imports will come into effect as a result of the UK’s exit from Europe, with further changes to follow in the next 12 months. The planned changes will bring import regulations in line with the current export procedures, which were changed back in January 2021. Brands could face major delays to imports in the New Year, with 37% of businesses admitting they are completely unprepared for the changes.

If you look back to January 2021, we had widespread disruption to UK supply chains, with brands bogged down in unfamiliar paperwork and HGV drivers stranded at the border. If businesses want to avoid the customs chaos this year, it’s essential they put plans in place now to adequately prepare for when the new legislation comes into effect from January 1st 2022.

Three in 10 of the leaders of firms that import from the EU polled by the Institute of Directors (IoD) said they were not at all prepared for the change, with 37% of small businesses and nearly a quarter of large ones saying they were not ready.

Currently, businesses are not required to provide all customs paperwork upfront when importing from the EU. VAT paperwork for example benefits from a 175-day grace period, meaning brands have nearly six months to process all the relevant documents even if the goods themselves have crossed the border into the UK.

From January 2022, all customs paperwork must be provided up front or goods will be refused entry to the UK. At this stage, businesses will also lose out on the 175-day grace period for tariffs, and while it is possible to defer some VAT payments, all other charges must now be paid up front too.

A further update means hauliers will also be responsible for ensuring their drivers have a Goods Movement Reference (GMR) barcode, which can be created via the Government website.

This comes in addition to the previously required Transit Accompanying Document (TAD) and Movement Reference Number (MRN) barcode.

Although easy to produce, the new GMR barcodes are only valid for the exact time, ferry and goods that have been logged on the Government system. If a specific vehicle breaks down and needs to be replaced, or if a driver needs to change route for whatever reason, a new barcode must be provided in situ or the goods will not clear customs.

National same day courier service Speedy Freight is urging businesses to invest in training to prepare themselves for the new regulations.

  • Brands will lose out on 175 day grace period for paperwork due to changes in regulations
  • Businesses urged to invest in training and planning now to avoid disruption in January
  • Speedy Freight couriers invests over 250 hours of training to prepare for change in regulations

Businesses importing live animals and food products, such as farm animals or eggs, must report their imports through the government’s Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS system) prior to arriving at the border, or they will be denied entry. It’s likely there will also be an increase in physical checks at the border. When similar regulations were introduced to exports in January 2021, delays of up to 48 hours were common.

As well next month’s changes, live animal exports and food products are due to be hit by even more regulations in July 2022, which means all such imports will be subject to document, identity and physical checks at the border, rather than just the ‘high risk’ shipments.

Every hour your shipment is stuck at the border costs you in time and money. Given the potential scope for disruption, this can have serious financial implications.

At Speedy Freight, we have put in over 250 hours of training to ensure our staff are on top of these changes. We’re also working closely with customers to identify the potential problems they may face in the New Year and helping to craft a bespoke solution for each one.

In recent weeks we’ve published a series of guides designed to make the upcoming changes more manageable for import businesses. As well as jargon busters, date charts and custom zone explainers, we’ve also published a Brexit checklist to help customers prepare.

Company info: Speedy Freight