Coronavirus chemicals update, 18th January 2021

Dear Friend,

Happy Monday! It’s Day 301 of Lockdown, and Heather Thomas of BEIS has sent a long and detailed email on trade under Brexit, and Covid, which may help if you are having difficulties. Please feel to share this page with colleagues and contacts who may find it useful. 

You may not be aware that Heather and her colleagues are working shifts at BEIS to try and sort things out (day and back shift, 7 days a week), and hopefully as we go through the month things will start to become clearer and easier. I have thanked Heather again for all her efforts

As there isn’t really room in this email for anything else, I’ll send a separate email with that special offer I told you about later on today, at 1pm – keep an eye out for it.

We will, of course, still have Reasons to be Cheerful at the bottom of this email!

Heather Thomas of BEIS writes: Brexit and Covid info and guidance and actions – 16 Jan 2021

With apologies for the length of this email, it contains asks of you, as well as info and links which I hope are useful, if only as a reminder where you’re aware already.

First, actions:

1. I’d be really grateful to receive any feedback on whether companies are experiencing problems related to the Customs Transit Procedure and delays in obtaining T1 forms, with an indication of the additional costs it is incurring; and

2. if firms are facing problems regarding courier drivers refusing to leave suppliers premises without paperwork documentation of customs files.

3. Please take note of the Rules of Origin (RoO) clarification at the bottom of this email.

4. You will have seen that following the travel corridor closure announcement, the still applies, however a new travel ban has been imposed from South American destinations, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Panama and Cape Verde banned to prevent spread of new variant – . The guidance states that “any exemptions usually in place – including for those related to employment – will not apply, although hauliers who have been in or transited through Portugal (only) in the last 10 days will be exempt to allow transport of essential goods.” Please could you advise urgently whether this causes any issues for your members/company – most particularly impacts on urgent access to skilled technicians for plant repairs, or any supply chain disruptions.

5. Minister Paul Scully has written to business asking for their assistance with ensuring their haulier providers have arrangements in place to ensure their hauliers are getting negative Covid tests before heading to the border and to consider whether it would be beneficial to set up a testing facility for this at their own premises.

6. I’d welcome feedback on specific issues your business / members have experienced trading with the EU now that new rules are operational (or indeed where things are working well), as well as any specific supply chain disruptions / risks.

Next, a reminder of support and upcoming webinars etc:

7. Business support helplines:

· businesses in England, call 0800 998 1098

· businesses in Scotland, call 0300 303 0660

· businesses in Wales, call 0300 060 3000

· businesses in Northern Ireland, call 0800 181 4422

· For more information, including opening hours, click .

8. DIT has a process for UK businesses trading with Europe to report a trade barrier online via This process is well established for ROW trade barriers, and has been adapted to EU/European barriers.

9. There are a range of still taking place across Gov to support businesses with how to keep trading with the EU.

10. Here is a link to HMRC specific webinars run webinars – .

11. Materials from a webinar on Navigating Ireland / GB Customs – slides and Audio Recording are available .

12. RoO feedback and teach-in session – both hosted on MS Teams live events and one will be recorded:

· Monday 18th January 2021 1200 – 1300. Please join at the following link:

· Tuesday 19th January 2021 1400-1500. Please join at the following link:

13. HSE is hosting a series of free podcasts to help businesses that make, use or supply chemicals, understand what actions they should take as independent GB chemical regimes are now in place. To listen to the podcast, just search ‘The HSE Podcast’ on your chosen platform. Audiences can also register to receive notifications for each episode released, to do so, click .

14. HSE and Defra will host a webinar on Wednesday 20 January at 10am. The event will cover the actions businesses need to take now an independent GB chemical regimes is in place. To register, and for more information, click .

I’ve also attached some documents which may be useful for you:

15. An updated set of UK Customs helpline/helpdesk contacts

16. A flyer from French Customs on what to scan/not to scan for hauliers.

17. The attached email gives a bit more clarity on GB>IE Pre-Boarding Notification requirements and links for assistance.

18. The Trader Forum Link is a useful source of Q&A – .

19. Border Operating Model Case Studies are now open and can be found at: . The case studies in this document have been created to represent end-to-end scenarios that will happen between GB and the EU, importing and exporting good from January 2021.

20. The latest Business Readiness bulletin is attached in case anyone doesn’t receive Bulletins direct; it contains a chemicals update as follows: 

· NEW: Submitting chemicals information to the National Poisons Information Service: Guidance has been issued with information for companies placing hazardous mixtures on the UK market (such as manufacturers, importers, downstream users and distributors), should submit to the National Poisons Information Service. For more information, click .

· NEW: ODS (Ozone – Depleting Substances) exports rejected at an EU border control post: Guidance has been issued on what to do if your ozone-depleting substances (ODS) exports, are rejected at an EU border control post (BCP). For more information, click .

· NEW: F gas exports rejected at an EU border control post: Guidance has been issued on what to do if your fluorinated gas (F gas) exports, are rejected at an EU border control post (BCP). For more information, click .

Following feedback now that the new border obligations are operational, the following advice may be useful:

21. Presentation of LRNs (Local Reference Numbers): there are cases of hauliers arriving without the correct transit or import documentation. Advice – every LRN must be presented at the Office of Departure (OoD) or it is likely the goods will be held on arrival in the EU. N.B. leaflets with updated guidance in several languages are being published for drivers.

22. Box 51: we understand several vehicles have arrived in France either without an Office of Transit (OoT) listed in Box 51 or with an incorrect OoT. If a trader arrives in France without the correct Office of Transit listed, we 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 OoT digitally, unless this location is declared at the OoD. The French system will need to manually request this data from the original OoD and then process the movement. Advice – to avoid this issue, traders are being asked to ensure that they are declaring every OoT en route – this means listing the port of entry into every new customs territory.

23. Export Accompanying Documents (EADs): we understand that across both the French (SI Brexit) and UK systems (GVMS) 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. Advice – 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. As per the French leaflet (attached above) goods arriving in France or the EU must submit an import declaration, transit declaration or logistics envelope, and must not submit UK EADs.

Moving onto Covid:

24. New BEIS Secretary of State, Kwasi Kwarteng has written an open letter to confirm that the UK manufacturing sector and its supply chains should remain open-

25. New scheme to give exporting SMEs access to working capital they need to recover from COVID-19. .

26. Guidance on ’ Outlines the key sectors whereby staff are considered critical workers.

27. The latest Coronavirus business bulletin is attached in case anyone doesn’t receive these direct.

Last but definitely not least, RoO clarification:

28. Following up on the rules of origin guidance we have previously shared, the team has provided some clarification on the impact of the UK leaving the EU customs union on the tariff treatment of different goods. We have received reports of the following issues impacting distribution business models in particular and wanted to ensure that the rules are clear, and that the options that are available can be shared with companies looking to navigate these changes. I have also attached some additional resources that you can use or share with members to help understand the basics. Webinar and FAQs document.

29. RoW-origin goods that are released into free circulation (i.e. customs cleared) in the EU or UK, if they are then sent to the other party without further processing that would meet the product-specific rules of origin in the UK-EU (TCA), will have tariffs applied to them no matter what length of time they spend in one territory, unless they are kept under customs supervision while there. To avoid paying duties on the initial import, the first option that would be available if a company is holding on to the goods in the UK or EU for any significant length of time ahead of re-exporting them, would be to apply to either run yourself or store the goods in another and use the on shipping goods to it, so the goods would effectively never clear customs in the first place.

30. Where there is a preferential trading arrangement in place between the EU or the UK and the third country where the RoW good originates from (e.g. Japan), businesses could check the ‘Direct Transport’ or ‘Non-Alteration’ clause of the relevant agreement to determine the conditions under which RoW-origin goods could transit through the UK or the EU and still be imported tariff-free into the final destination. However, these clauses often stipulate that the goods must remain under customs supervision in the middle country in the chain.

31. EU-origin goods that are released into free circulation (i.e. customs cleared) in the UK, if they are then sent back to the EU without any significant processing (see below for definitions of what is not enough), will have tariffs applied to them as well. This is also the case for EU-origin goods which are being moved from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and are considered of entering the EU.

32. To be eligible for zero tariff trade using the UK-EU TCA, there would need to have been some processing in the UK before exporting to the EU, or vice versa. The processing that must take place must be more significant than the following operations (which are taken from Article ORIG-7 of the UK-EU TCA [on page 30], with the agricultural and textiles-specific examples stripped out):

· preserving operations such as drying, freezing, keeping in brine and other similar operations where their sole purpose is to ensure that the products remain in good condition during transport and storage;

· breaking-up or assembly of packages;

· washing, cleaning; removal of dust, oxide, oil, paint or other coverings;

· simple painting and polishing operations;

· sharpening, simple grinding or simple cutting;

· sifting, screening, sorting, classifying, grading, matching including the making-up of sets of articles;

· simple placing in bottles, cans, flasks, bags, cases, boxes, fixing on cards or boards and all other simple packaging operations;

· affixing or printing marks, labels, logos and other like distinguishing signs on products or their packaging;

· simple mixing of products, whether or not of different kinds; mixing of sugar with any material;

· simple addition of water or dilution with water or another substance that does not materially alter the characteristics of the product, or dehydration or denaturation of products;

· simple assembly of parts of articles to constitute a complete article or disassembly of products into parts;

33. (Operations shall be considered simple if neither special skills nor machines, apparatus or equipment especially produced or installed are needed for carrying out those operations.)

34. If you are distributing EU-origin goods back to the EU and you have not carried out significant processing on them in the UK, the thing to check is whether the person importing the goods back into the EU could use Returned Goods Relief to avoid paying a tariff. Procedures for using this Relief differ across EU Member States (though the underlying rules are the same) but I have included the Irish guidance as an example. The goods must be re-imported in an unaltered state, apart from any work that may have been carried out to maintain the goods in working order, and the goods cannot have been upgraded to increase their value.

Many thanks to Heather for sending all this information through. As she writes, please get in touch with BEIS if you are having problems.

Reasons to be cheerful

This week, our Reasons to be Cheerful clips are all from Top Gear (old version, with Clarkson, Hammond and May).

Today’s clip is James May’s Inconspicuous Shed


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 have had a good weekend, and are refreshed and ready for the week ahead.

​Kind regards,


Janet Greenwood

TT Environmental Ltd