What will customs look like after Brexit?

With Brexit Day fast approaching and major customs-related issues still yet to be agreed & made law between Ireland, the UK and the EU, there’s still far too much uncertainty surrounding the costs and delays that Brexit will cause. To prepare as best we can, we’ve researched the likelihood of import-export duties and border delays in the event of a number of different scenarios.

UK/EU Customs Predictions for Brexit

We’re currently basing our assumptions on 3 possible Brexit scenarios. The contingency plans that we’re developing in-house are all based around these three scenarios, and are updated as and when further information becomes available.

1: A ‘No Deal’ Brexit on/after 29 March 2019

  • Border delay risk: high
  • Trade tariff risk: high
  • Likelihood: medium

If Britain ‘crashes out’ with no EU agreement in place on 29 March 2019 or a few weeks after that date, then Britain will default to WTO rules and be classed as a ‘Third Country’. Countries like Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland have long-established agreements that enable for near-seamless road border transitions in and out of the EU, but these agreements don’t yet exist with the UK.

In the absence of a clear agreement between the UK and the EU, trucks could be subject to border checks until a new customs agreement has been reached and made law. This could cause significant delays on both sides of the border; it will affect how pallets can be combined on a single truck load, and transport costs will inevitably increase.

The UK has already rejected the EU Withdrawal Bill twice, making a No Deal Brexit very likely. A third vote takes place in the week commencing 25th March.

2: ‘Done Deal’ Brexit on 22 May 2019

  • Border delay risk: low
  • Trade tariff risk: low
  • Likelihood: low

The EU have offered to delay Brexit by eight weeks if the UK agrees to the existing Withdrawal Deal. This eight week delay would be followed by a 21 month transition period, allowing the UK to leave the EU in a structured and orderly fashion. If Westminster rejects the Withdrawal Bill for a third time next week, the only alternatives are ‘no deal’ or an as-yet-undefined ‘new deal’ Brexit.

3: ‘New Deal’ Brexit

  • Border delay risk: unknown
  • Trade tariff risk: unknown
  • Likelihood: low

It’s impossible to predict what a ‘New Deal’ Brexit might look like, as there is currently no formal Brexit proposal on the table. There’s arguably not enough time to create fresh proposals from scratch, either. The last attempt at a workable deal between the UK and the EU is likely to be a patchwork agreement that combines elements of the proposals already rejected. A hybrid agreement, combining parts of Plan A+, Chequers and the UK Withdrawal Bill, may still be presented.

Other potential outcomes

There are a number of outcomes not covered here, but at this stage we believe that any other possibilities are too unlikely to merit serious consideration.  We’ll update our Brexit Customs predictions as more facts emerge. If you have any specific questions, you can reach out to our dedicated Brexit Team or take a look at our news section for the latest updates.

How Baku GLS are preparing

Our aim is to become industry experts on all matters Brexit so that, when the UK formally leaves the EU, we can continue to deliver the highest standards for our transport clients. We’re actively attending all Brexit talks, customs briefings and department of agriculture meetings. We’re reading every whitepaper and government proposal, and we’re keeping a close eye on developments here, in the UK and on mainland Europe. We’re maintaining a number of contingency plans so that, whatever the outcome of the next few months, we’re able to respond quickly. If you want to know more about how Baku can help you control costs and timelines after 29 March 2019, please get in touch.