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Government publishes Customs bill

[ October 9, 2017   //   ]

The UK government published a Customs Bill on 9 October, to legislate for the UK’s future customs, VAT and excise regimes after Brexit in March 2019.

The bill does not prescribe future customs arrangements as such, but rather creates the legislative framework need to create a standalone customs regime. Current UK customs legislation is insufficient to create a standalone customs regime, and on leaving the EU the UK will require new domestic legislation.

The rules governing customs are mostly in EU law, which has meant that until now, domestic customs legislation has been largely unnecessary

Whatever form any new arrangements take, the UK will need to set its own customs, VAT and excise arrangements to facilitate the flow of trade across its border, it said.

The government said it was keen to explore with the EU a model for an interim implementation period which would ensure that businesses and people in the UK and the EU only have to adjust once to a new customs relationship. It believes a model of close association with the EU Customs Union for a time-limited interim implementation period could achieve this, “and it would be helpful if this principle were agreed early in the process to provide certainty for businesses and individuals in both the UK and the EU”.

The bill also envisages, in a contingency scenario where an interim period cannot be agreed, customs declarations would be required for UK-EU trade once the UK leaves the EU, including ro-ro traffic. Because of the unique constraints on this type of operation, the B ill will enable the government to require that consignments are pre-notified to customs.

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