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 29 March 2019

We’re currently basing our assumptions on 3 possible Brexit scenarios for post-29 March 2019. 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

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

If Britain ‘crashes out’ with no EU agreement in place on 29 March 2019, 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.

Following the UK’s rejection of the EU Withdrawal Bill on 15 January 2019, we believe that a No Deal Brexit is now the most likely outcome.

2: A Delayed Brexit

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

With just weeks left until 29 March, there’s a chance that Brexit Day could be postponed for a period of time while the UK works to break the stalemate that’s building in Parliament. If the UK needs to form a new government, conduct a general election or carry out a second referendum (highly unlikely at this time), then the sensible thing to do would be to delay the Brexit date for a period of time. Such a delay would still require formal approval from within the UK government and the European Parliament.

3: ‘A Patchwork’ Brexit

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

Now that the UK’s House of Commons have formally rejected the EU withdrawal bill, there is 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.