UK customs changes from 1 January 2022: what you need to know

For many businesses that import and export goods to and from the UK on a regular basis it will have been a hectic 12 months requiring adjustment to the new customs procedures implemented following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU at the start of 2021. One of the biggest changes that came about at the start the year was that those businesses that regularly trade with the EU had to make customs declarations for goods entering the UK or they had the option of delaying their customs declarations if relevant procedures were not in place following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Now as we steam towards 2022, HMRC has recently updated its Border Operating Model (BOM) to set out new customs and border requirements and procedures for goods imported from or exported to the EU from 1 January 2022 onwards.

Upcoming changes

The next set of big changes will be introduced from 1 January 2022, with further updates in the summer. These are the key requirements you need to look out for from the start of 2022:

1. Customs declarations

From 1 January 2022, customs declarations will be required upfront in addition to the payment of any applicable tariffs (although VAT-registered businesses will still be able to use postponed VAT accounting (‘PVA’) to avoid having to pay import VAT at this stage). This means that the option to delay customs declarations for up to 175 days, without an authorisation from HMRC, is coming to an end on 31 December 2021.

There is also likely to be a higher level of physical checks (currently these are limited to high-risk live animals and plants).

2. Border controls

New Border Requirements on EU Imports and Exports are coming in from 1 January 2022. Ports and other border locations will be required to control goods moving between Great Britain and the EU.

This means that unless goods have a valid declaration and have received customs clearance, they will not be able to be released into circulation, and in most cases will not be able to leave the port.

From 1 January 2022, goods may be directed to an Inland Border Facility for documentary or physical checks if these checks cannot be done at the border.

It will be important that those involved in transporting goods are ready and understand how businesses intend to operate from January 2022.

3. Rules of origin – for imports and exports

The UK-EU deal called the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) means that goods imported or exported may benefit from a reduced rate of Customs Duty (tariff preference).

These preferential rates depend on whether the goods meet the ‘Rules of Origin’ required in the agreement to qualify as ‘local’. Businesses are required to identify the full origin of their goods as well as provide additional paperwork in order to qualify.

From 1 January 2022 businesses who export goods to the EU will have to provide a supplier declaration at the time of export to confirm the origin of the goods when the manufacture alone is not enough to meet the product specific rules of origin.

4. Commodity codes

Commodity codes are used worldwide to classify goods that are imported and exported. They are standardised up to six digits and reviewed by the World Customs Organisation every five years.  Following the end of the latest review, we understand that the UK commodity codes will be changing on 1 January 2022. HMRC has guidance on how to use the Trade Tariff tool and how to classify goods, to ensure businesses pay the right Customs Duty and import VAT.

5. Postponed VAT Accounting

A VAT-registered importer can continue to use Postponed VAT Accounting (PVA) on all customs declarations, including supplementary declarations. This therefore allows importers to avoid paying VAT at the border and instead allows the required import VAT to be accounted for on the importer’s VAT return.

Further changes from 1 July 2022

Further changes will be introduced from July 2022, as follows:

  • Requirements for full safety and security declarations for all imports
  • New requirements for Export Health Certificates
  • Requirements for Phytosanitary Certificates
  • Physical checks on sanitary and phytosanitary goods at Border Control Posts
  • How can this affect your business?

As these new regulations are being implemented from 1 January 2022, care must be taken for any imports and exports to/from the UK from this date.

If you use a service such as a courier or freight forwarder to move your goods, you need to check their terms and conditions about who will make the declarations, and what other information they need from you to do this.

A failure to provide the correct paperwork from 1 January 2022 will mean that goods cannot clear customs and enter the UK market.  It also remains to be seen how well UK customs IT systems and other border-related infrastructure will cope with the change.

How CT can help your business prepare

At CT we have a dedicated VAT & Customs team that can assist your business in ensuring that it is ready to comply with new border processes. We can also help your business consider how to submit your customs declarations moving forward (self-declaration or customs agent). We can also provide you with all the relevant information and paperwork needed to secure clearance of goods through UK customs.

For further guidance on how to be prepare for these changes, please contact our VAT team at

Author: Andy Young, CT: VAT