Coronavirus chemicals update, 15th February 2021

Dear Friend,

Happy Monday! I hope you’ve had a good weekend, despite the weather.

The combination of snow on the ground and strong winds on Friday and Saturday meant that minus 3 C felt significantly colder, and you really needed to wear a balaclava to protect the skin on your face from the cold. As well as umpteen layers of clothing, I ended up wearing a scarf, an ancient silk balaclava from the days when I rode a motorbike, and then an outer scarf! Luckily the wind dropped on Sunday, so it felt a bit less bitter.

It’s Day 329 of Lockdown, and the good news is that the rain came last night and the snow is nearly gone.

More good news – Heather Thomas of BEIS has sent through one of her very useful emails on Brexit trade issues, which I have reproduced below in full – normal email service will resume tomorrow (although I’ve included an item on St Valentine, and Reasons to Be Cheerful).

As usual with important emails like this:

  • please feel free to share this email with people in your organisation or outside who may find the contents useful. In particular, there is the announcement of help for SMEs adjust to trading with the EU.
  • I will also set this email as “open access” on our website, so you link to this page directly

Trade email from Heather Thomas of BEIS

With apologies again for length, I hope this email finds you wrapped up warm on this freezing cold evening! Please find below some updates – not on everything that you have been raising as yet, but do please keep feeding in your issues and queries as these help identify where further guidance or action is needed. Also please see below some actions which we would appreciate your feedback on whenever you get the chance. And attached are BPDG bulletins with lots of useful updates and guidance, an update email from HMRC to traders, the chemicals RoO guidance (same as before, reattached in case anyone missed), and REX registration details.

1. SME Brexit Support Fund

A £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund has been announced offering up to £2,000 to help small businesses who have up to 500 employees, and no more than £100 million annual turnover and who trade only with the EU (and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes) adjust to new customs procedures, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU. For more information on the SME Brexit Support Fund, which will launch next month, click . Full guidance on how you can use the grant, who can apply and how to apply, click .

2. T1 forms [ACTION]

· As we continue to hear reports of these delays, we wanted to know further details on the specifics behind the issue. What specifically is causing delays in obtaining T1 forms for your company/members:

  • Is it due to problems with making New Computerised Transit System (NCTS) declarations? If so, could you explain the problems? Is it because the guidance isn’t clear?
  • Is it due to increased demand at the Offices of Departure, which is
  • ment on the NCTS system?
  • Is it due to technical problems in the EU countries when the
  •  causing delays in printing forms?
  • Is it due to technical problems with initiating or closing movey are initiating or closing movements?
  • Is it due to problems with tracking goods through specific customs offices of transit?
  • Is it due to difficulties in securing a guarantee or estimating the guarantee?
  • Is it due to a problems with haulier/carrier availability?

3. Rules of Origin [ACTION]

· Is there appetite for a further webinar on Rules of Origin from your businesses / members? – I’ve reattached the 3 x RoO documents which Ryan shared at end Jan following the previous two chemicals RoO webinars in case helpful.

· Many businesses are having problems understanding RoO and – in the case of distributors, and some manufacturers – meeting them. In order to inform the work we do on guidance, we are asking for feedback on your / your members’ RoO experience:

1. Have you been using rules of origin successfully to ensure that trade you do with the EU is tariff-free?

2. If not, which of the following issues are the main reason?

  • i. The trade in question cannot meet rules of origin due to insufficient production taking place in the UK/EU
  • ii. The trade in question cannot meet rules of origin due to it being redistribution of goods which are unaltered before sending on
  • iii. The UK traders do not understand the rules and have not used them for that reason
  • iv. The EU traders do not understand the rules and have not used them for that reason
  • v. The problem is with the administration side, e.g. EU exporters registering on the REX system or customs agents asking for information in different formats etc.

3. If the issue is with understanding the rules or their administration, which are the areas of guidance that are not clear?

  • i. Where to find the relevant rules
  • ii. How to interpret the rules e.g., the definitions associated with them.
  • iii. How cumulation works.
  • iv. How origin declarations are made.
  • v. When supplier declarations are required and in what format.
  • vi. Other- please specify.

· There have been some queries about whether long term supplier declarations are only for EU-27 Member States and whether they need certifying:

  • Long term supplier declarations are not only for EU-27 nations, but are for any exporter looking to send consignments of the same content and of the same origin to ease the admin process. It could be that the relevant customs authorities wish to verify but is at their discretion and not a requirement; the TCA allows self-certification or the use of importer’s knowledge so there is no need to have origin certified (this is the case in some older EU agreements).
  • EU exporters will need to register in the REX system if the goods they are exporting are worth more than EUR 6000 per consignment. Please see attached the contact details for REX registrations in each Member State (it also includes a link to EU Customs Office Information).
  • While there are circumstances where a UK exporter would need a supplier’s declaration from EU suppliers in order to prove origin, typically it seems the UK exporter can use a statement on origin provided with the EU goods when exported to the UK, as the proof that those inputs qualify for cumulation purposes.

4. UK Global Tariff [ACTION]

DIT is formally welcoming feedback on the UK Global Tariff and its impact on business operations, you can find the feedback forms and information on how to return them here . I appreciate that you have provided much of this information to us directly previously, we would encourage you to resubmit this information with any updates especially as we now have a better picture of the UK’s FTA landscape. Anything submitted by respondents will be considered alongside wider government analysis.

5. Tied oils

There was an issue with tariff code 2707500089 where it was not possible to use Customs Procedure Code 40 00 018 because of an “end-use” restriction. This has now been corrected but we are continuing to raise issues with other tariff codes.

6. Common Transit Procedure (CTP)

We have raised the issues around the common transit procedure with HMRC and they are working with HMG officials at Office of Departure and Inland Border Facilities to smooth the transit procedure. They are updating their key stakeholder groups on the actions taken, but are aware of issues and are working to address concerns with the Customs Comprehensive Guarantee and T1 form delays. They continue to monitor the capacity of guarantee usage, and are also working to ensure the NCTS system works smoothly. We continue to raise your concerns with the team in HMRC, and will feedback further updates we receive.

They have provided some advice below on key actions to prevent delay:

  • Presentation of Local Reference Numbers: HMRC have heard reports that hauliers are arriving without the correct transit or import documentation. Some hauliers are presenting one Local Reference Number (LRN) when starting transit movements at GB Offices of Departure. This is not a problem if a vehicle is travelling with all of its consignments captured under one Transit declaration. However, if a vehicle is carrying multiple consignments under different transit declarations but does not present all of their LRNs, the goods will be held on arrival in in the EU.
  • They have amended their guidance to frontline HMG staff at OODs so they will now prompt every driver to present all of their LRNs. They are publishing leaflets with updated guidance in several languages for drivers. They are monitoring the effects of these changes, but would like to remind exporters that every LRN must be presented at the Office of Departure or it likely the goods will be held on arrival in the EU.
  • Office of Transit ‘Box 51’: [Same advice as my 16 Jan email but additional detail may be helpful]French authorities have notified HMRC that several vehicles have arrived in France either without an Office of Transit listed in Box 51 or with an incorrect Office of Transit. If a trader arrives in France without the correct Office of Transit listed, they understand that SI Brexit – their new digital border system – will hold the goods. This is because the local NCTS will not have a record of the transit movement or be able to complete Office of Transit digitally, unless this location is declared at the Office of Departure. The French system will need to manually request this data from the original Office of Departure and then process the movement. To avoid this issue, we are asking traders to ensure that they are declaring every Office of Transit en route – this means listing the port of entry into every new customs territory.
  • HMRC have agreed a temporary measure with French officials to allow Calais and Dunkirk to be entered as Offices of Transit on crossing from Dover. . This is temporary until France and then the UK implement changes to their systems.
  • Export Accompanying Documents: [Same advice as my 16 Jan email] Across both the French (SI Brexit) and UK systems (GVMS) they have noticed that traders have been inputting Movement Reference Numbers (MRNs( from Export Accompanying Documents, rather than from Transit Accompanying Documents. This means that the Office of Transit cannot be completed on arrival into the new customs territory and is creating systems errors which may result in goods being held. The French have published high level guidance on this – HMRC have taken away an action to provide more detail on the error and provide clearer guidance to traders. Please note that for transit arrivals in GB, GVMS requires that traders moving goods under transit must submit a Goods Movement Reference at the EU port of departure – this must contain all transit accompanying document MRNs and should not contain EU EAD MRNs.
  • Box 44: There has been some confusion over the requirements at Box 44 which is completed dependent on the type of goods and where they are going rather than mandatory in all cases. HMRC and Border Force have worked together to clarify when checks would be required, and the Transit Manual Supplement will be updated.
  • Starting Transit Movements – If you are an Authorised Consignor – you can start the movement from your own premises including printing Transit Accompanying Documentation. If you are not Authorised Consignor you need to provide relevant information at Office of Departure to have documentation produced.
  • In order for a trader to start a movement under Transit in the UK they must have a Transit Guarantee registered on NCTS and linked to the EORI that they are using to start the transit the movement. This has always been the case and no change has been made to this requirement. This guarantee must be sufficient to cover the maximum about of duties suspended under transit at any single point in time. The duty is calculated according to the tariff of the country of departure without taking into account any preferences.
  • On the 14 January the NCTS system was updated to require traders to enter a value for the level of duties deferred under each movement when they lodge their declarations onto NCTS. This change allowed NCTS to track each traders usage of their guarantee, and would prevent traders from starting new movements if the guarantee they have registered onto NCTS was not sufficient.

7. Inland Border Facilities (IBF) guidance

· Following feedback from industry, HMRC have thoroughly reviewed all guidance pages related to Inland Border Facilities, including: making it clear what documentation is required at sites; which sites are available across the country; as well as encouragement to utilise alternative sites to Waterbrook. In addition, HMRC have included information on site specific guidance on the functions available at each site. Further information can be found .

  1. Value Added Tax EU Exit Transitional Provisions [UPDATED]

· Guidance about the VAT treatment of transactions of movements of goods, which span the end of the transition period, has been updated with information about goods in a warehousing regime. For more information, click .

· To clarify – the £135 threshold where domestic not import VAT is paid relates to UK imports only, and not exports to the EU.

  1. List of customs agents and fast parcel operators [UPDATED]

· The list of agents and operators who can help submit customs declarations has been updated. For more information, click .

Many thanks to Heather for this information, we truly appreciate the work BEIS and other government department and agencies are doing in trying to get trade moving.

Valentines Day

Yesterday was St Valentine’s Day, which can be a difficult day for many people. This is especially true during Lockdown, which puts all of our relationships under such unnatural strain. And, if you’re going through a rough patch with your other half, the last thing you need is the adverts going on about fancy dine-at-home romantic meals for two, which seem to be infesting the airwaves.

To counteract all the commercialism, I thought you might like to know a bit about how the tradition grew up. Briefly, there are several St Valentines, and the “main” one, St Valentine of Rome, is semi-recognised these days: .

The first extant written reference we have to St Valentines and romance is in “The Parliament of Fowles”, a poem written by Geoffrey Chaucer to celebrate the marriage of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia, where he mentions the day as being when the birds find their mates, see . It is likely that Chaucer was referring to a folk tradition or observation, and he was maybe just the first person to write it down (or the only text to have survived).

And I thought you might like a very good discussion on St Valentines day here from the Rev Peter Mullen: .

Reasons to be cheerful

This week, our clips are from Rowan Atkinson, inspired by Alan Ritchie of WSP who sent this one through last Thursday: An Interview with Elton John

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the newsletter today. As usual, if you have anything you’d like to share, please email me and I’ll do my best to include it in the next newsletter.

I hope you are looking forward to the week ahead, and that the weather is a bit better where you are.

​Kind regards,


Janet Greenwood

TT Environmental Ltd