Retrospective deadlines may impact international trader

12 January 2016

David Wilson

It’s little wonder that UK businesses trading internationally feel confused, and no, we’re not referring to the potential consequences of an in/out EU referendum, but the more immediate issue of the soon to be implemented European Union Customs Code (UCC).

On 1 May 2016, a fundamental change will take place when the UCC comes into force, replacing the existing European Community Customs Code (CCC). The far-reaching measures contained within the new code will impact all businesses with international supply-chain profiles, particularly those businesses which:

  • supply or move goods across international borders;
  • operate special warehousing reliefs;
  • operate processing reliefs;
  • make use of certain duty suspension regimes; or
  • operate Simplified Import VAT Accounting (SIVA) in the UK.

On 6 January 2016, HMRC issued a briefing note advising that businesses wishing to obtain authorisations under the current CCC terms must make their applications to HMRC within certain timeframes. All well and good and, given the time required to process such applications, we welcome HMRC’s proactive approach. 

But here’s the rub; when HMRC issued this briefing, one of the deadlines had already passed. The timeframe for submission of applications for continued use of existing Valuation, Customs Freight Simplified Procedure, Single Authorisation Simplified Procedure and Authorised Economic Operator was on 1 January 2016, pre-dating the publication of the information paper. 

We cannot help but draw comparisons with the confusion to taxpayers this time last year when HMRC published retrospective guidance on the implementation of VAT Mini One-Stop Shop (MOSS), and note that further guidance on VAT MOSS has been issued this week, over a year after implementation.

HMRC advises that traders wishing to be authorised under existing CCC rules must ensure that their application is received before the cut-off date; we trust however that HMRC will be able to accommodate those businesses that did not know the cut-off date until after it was published.

Given the time required to process such applications, we would advise all businesses wishing to obtain authorisations under the current CCC terms to make their applications to HMRC as soon as possible in order to enable the authorisation to be considered before the current legislation is revoked.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised, please contact David Wilson or your usual RSM contact.