Stephen Barclay, Brexit Minister, yesterday got confused about whether any customs formalities would be required in the Irish Sea should a border be put down the middle. Taking advice and notes from twitter customs expert Dr Anna Jerzewska (@AnnaJerzewska) who best explains in easy to understand terms, we try to relay this information and what the difference between this document and a customs document is.

First let’s get something clear because it’s been very confusing. The overall word we want for the two types of declaration, exit and entry, is Safety and Security Declaration. Keep this in mind because people have been using this interchangeably.

Ok, so the carrier is generally required to submit an EXS to the customs authority of the country from which the consignment is being exported from. Note it says the carrier.

Now with this in mind let’s talk about what it is. This is extracted from a twitter response by Dr Jerzewska.

1. Before an import or export there is a requirement to submit a pre-arrival, pre-departure notification information that allows authorities to control what’s moving across borders from a safety and security perspective.

2. This information is mainly used for risk analysis and not to calculate the amount of duties due or apply other trade policy measures as in the case of customs declarations. In principle, they are submitted by the carrier not the importer or exporter.

3. For imports, the process is slightly different as you need to submit them before the goods arrive (as the name pre-arrival suggests). Deadlines depend on the mode of transport – up to 2 hrs before arrival.

4. On export, in theory also needs to be done before the goods depart but that is usually done at the same time submitting a customs declaration. For obvious reasons, the procedure here is less strict as the goods are leaving the territory.

5. So very different from the import where it’s a separate document with separate data fields – for entry summary declaration information that needs to be provided is all around the mode of transport and parties involved with only some customs information included (HS Code)

6. On export, this can be done on the same form as a customs declaration. So i n terms of NI and Secretarys (Stephen Barclay 21.10.19) comments, the short answer is we don’t know what this will look like – it will be discussed and agreed by the Joint Committee during the transition period (TP) if the deal passes.

7. The normal procedure is to have both entry/exit declaration and customs declarations. However, countries like Norway and Switzerland have reached an agreement with the EU that allows them to waive that requirement when trading with the EU.

8. Instead, pre-arrival notification is submitted once – for example when goods enter Norway from a third country. So that could be one option for NI-GB trade. However, there is an alternative.

9. With earlier versions of the proposal ie. the backstop, there was this notion of trying to use pre-notifications instead of customs declarations.

10. That was slightly different as there was also the A.UK document as a result of the UK being in a customs union with the EU under the backstop – getting a bit technical

11. But basically, there potentially could be an option to do that – perhaps for the goods that are not considered high-risk and are exempt from tariffs under the new deal? We really don’t know what the thinking is here.

12. And as mentioned – all the customs technical details to be agreed by the Joint Committee under the TP. It seems clear, however, that there will be some paperwork for goods going both ways (NI-GB and GB-NI)

13. So whatever these forms will be – it will be very different from what we have now – additional paperwork and time required. Not because of what the Secretary said today but because the new deal includes a de facto customs border in the Irish Sea.

14. And that’s what having one means. i think it’s just now starting to slowly sink in. That is why all the details that are not in the brexit deal – the things to be negotiated – are so important.

15. Without knowing HOW all this is going to be implemented, it’s really hard to understand how this will impact businesses, hauliers, etc. It’s also why 14 months might not be enough to discuss, agree and implement all that needs to be put in place.

So this is how safety and security declarations work. If you want to see it in action check out part D in the UCC attached In the context of NI though we don’t yet know how that will be implemented.

UCC guidance_export_en

For Brexit and not NI let’s quickly discuss how it’s proposed to work.

EU > UK – currently requirements for Safety and Security declarations have been waived for 12 months – leave for now.
UK > EU – Exit summary declaration will automatically be generated at point of customs entry by trader/agent.

For the UK export there are still challenges to actually get the document to the driver depending on who is raising the customs advice. And for export there is still the question, who indeed…