New rules for January 2021
The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.
This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.
You can also read about the transition period.
Under UK legislation certain goods benefit from a temporary suspension or reduction of customs duty. This guide explains the background, scope, and coverage of these temporary suspensions.
Temporary tariff suspensions are designed to allow UK businesses to remain competitive in the global marketplace. This is achieved by permitting the complete or partial suspension of import duties on certain goods used in domestic production.
1.3 Other duties or taxes
It should be borne in mind that goods to which temporary suspensions apply remain chargeable with other duties (for example, Anti-Dumping Duty) or with UK taxes (such as VAT).
1.4 Responsibility in the UK
The decision on whether a particular product is granted a tariff suspension or whether a suspension measure should continue is taken by the government. When a suspension application is being considered, the UK will take into account a range of criteria applying to each individual request or renewal.
The Department for International Trade deals with enquiries other than classification issues concerning this regime. If stakeholders have any queries on goods classification and nomenclature, these should be put to HMRC.
Importers seeking the introduction of duty suspensions should submit an application for the suspension during one of the application windows that are opened throughout the course of the year. Further detail on the exact timings for the 2021 application window will be provided shortly, although businesses should be advised that there will not be a suspension application window in January 2021.
The government will publish details of new requests for duty suspensions submitted by stakeholders and businesses based in the UK.
All suspension requests will be made publicly viewable for stakeholders to review or object to. Stakeholders will be able to alert DIT to any objections to any of the suspensions applications by completing an Objection Form. Objections will be posted once the application windows close respectively and will be viewable for a one-month period.
The first application window for duty rate suspensions under the UK’s independent suspensions regime will open in spring 2021. All tariff suspensions requests will be assessed by the Department for International Trade, and successful applications are planned to come into force in autumn 2021. From 2022 the UK will seek to open two application windows per year to receive tariff suspension requests, with a view to implementing two-rounds of suspensions per year.
2. Temporary suspensions
2.1 General coverage
The UK will have the following tariff suspensions in force for an initial period of 12 months, during which they will be subject to internal review to determine whether they are working for the UK domestic economy.
The scope of products eligible for duty rate suspension continues to cover products in the food and agricultural sector, including some fish products. Examples of other sectors covered include chemicals, textiles and microelectronics. Some of these suspensions had autonomous tariff quotas applied to them under the previous regime. Many of these quotas have now been transitioned into tariff suspensions under the UK regime.
These suspensions have been rolled over for the entirety of 2021 to ensure continuity for businesses and to allow them the appropriate time to apply for new suspensions.
A number of fish products which previously had autonomous tariff quotas applied to them have now had these volume quotas removed. Instead, a tariff suspension or the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) rate will apply.
The goods which benefit from a temporary suspension are specifically identified against this description in the UK Trade Tariff by the symbol ‘S’ together with the reduced rate of duty.
2.2 Tariff suspensions on COVID-19 critical goods
In addition to the above suspensions, the UK Government have suspended tariffs on many essential medical items in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This ensures that all products listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in June 2020 as COVID-19 critical can enter the UK tariff free. These suspensions are planned to be in place for a period of 12 months from 1 January 2021, subject to ongoing reviews.
See the full list of these products.
3. Reduced rates and tariff quotas
3.1 When more than one tariff concession applies
Importers will wish to ensure that their goods are entered at the most advantageous rate.
Where goods are potentially eligible for both suspension of customs duty and preference at equally beneficial rates, importers should be alert to the possibility that a claim to suspension may be easier to substantiate than eligibility to preference, since the former generally requires no supporting documentation.
Similarly, eligibility to suspension of customs duty may be easier to substantiate than relief from duty under a tariff quota.