Simplifying Customs Procedures in the Post-Brexit Period

This article was originally published in Global Trade Magazine on Nov. 4, 2020.

By David Merritt, Director, Global Trade Consulting

Anyone who has ever arrived at an airport outside of his or her home country knows all too well the chaotic, tedious and time-consuming process of going through customs and immigration.

Now imagine that, instead of people, the lineup was made up of tractor-trailers full of time-sensitive goods and was several kilometers long because there aren’t enough customs officials to process the backlog of required paperwork. Somewhere far away from the lineup is a business owner impatiently waiting for those goods and becoming far more open to the idea of finding a new supplier. Now you’ve got a sense of what the borders of the UK and EU will be like come January 1, 2021. The total volume of import and export declarations entries is anticipated to balloon to approximately 400 million annually after Brexit, adding about £13 billion a year in cost to businesses. What’s more, British officials estimate only about one in three small-to-medium sized businesses are prepared for the customs changes compared with about 70% of large businesses.

The good news is that for those businesses engaged in trade across the English Channel (small or large), there will be some relief in the form of a fast pass. It doesn’t let you skip the queue, but it does allow you to join it with far less fuss.

With the Brexit deadline fast approaching, this is the time for traders to embrace the UK’s customs simplifications for their future business activities.

What is CFSP?

CFSP was first introduced in 2001 to enable the import of shipments by traders from third countries to be completed in two stages – an initial declaration with reduced content is submitted at the port, and a second supplementary declaration containing full data is submitted weeks later (or months later in the case of phase one of the Brexit import declaration program). The use of CFSP provides a trader with greater certainty of the receipt of goods and cashflow savings.