Are you ready for Brexit?

With Brexit, the United Kingdom (with the exception of Northern Ireland*) has become a customs territory. You will still be able to ship parcels and pallets to the United Kingdom again with DHL Parcel, but a number of things have changed. This page lists the most important changes and explains how you can prepare your company for them. 

What does Brexit mean for you?
You will have to deal with customs formalities for your shipments to England, Scotland and Wales as of January 1, 2021.* This means that your company must have the correct identification numbers and you must ensure that your invoices and shipments meet the requirements set out by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. In a number of cases, you will have to declare VAT in the UK. Whether this is the case or not, will depend on the Incoterm, the type of recipient (consumer or business) and the value of the shipment.

*Exception: no customs formalities apply to trade between the EU and Northern Ireland (UK postal codes starting with BT). Although Northern Ireland is part of the customs territory of the UK, for customs purposes it will be treated as if it were part of the customs territory of the Union.

In order for DHL Parcel to respresent your company in drawing up an export declaration in your name, you must authorize us by signing an ‘Authorization to Act as Direct Representative’.  Your DHL contact can send you the form upon request.

Invoice requirements for shipments to the UK

Shipping to consumers in the UK:
You can send parcels for consumers in the United Kingdom via our parcel service called DHL Parcel Connect. The standard delivery method of this service is Incoterm Delivered At Place (DAP). Consumers have to pay the VAT and import duties themselves if the value of the shipment is greater than 135 GBP. Consumers pay for these costs in addition to an administrative fee with PayPal or a credit card on HMRC's website. The consumer does not have to do this if the value is lower than 135 GBP; in that case, however, you will need to declare the VAT. For this purpose, you will need both a VAT and EORI number for the United Kingdom. . 

Shipping to business recipients in the UK:
You can send parcels or pallets to business recipients in the United Kingdom via our business service DHL Europlus International. You also have the choice of a number of Incoterms for your shipments. Depending on the selected Incoterm, the VAT and import duties in the United Kingdom will be paid by you or the recipient.

  • Selection of the Incoterm DDP means that you will pay the VAT and import duties. In this case, you will need a United Kingdom VAT number. DHL will pay the advance for these costs and charge them to you on a separate invoice, including an advance payment fee, at a later date.
  • By selecting another Incoterm (DAP, CIP, CPT, etc), the business recipient in the United Kingdom will pay the VAT and import duties, plus an administrative fee. In this case you must always report "reverse charge: customer to account for VAT to HMRC" on your customs invoice. This will ensure that your buyer will owe the VAT costs. If you sell to a private individual, then this does not apply.

Business recipients can pay for the costs by bank transfer. Additionally, they can delay payment through a deferment account. This ensures that there are no extra delays, because the account lets you make one payment a month instead of paying for individual consignments.

What is an Incoterm?
‘Incoterms’ are globally accepted standard sets of agreements between sellers and purchasers concerning the shipment of goods. They describe in detail how all tasks, risks, and costs concerning the shipment are divided between the seller and the purchaser. Click here for more information on Incoterms.

Apply for an EORI number
To import goods from and to export goods to the United Kingdom, you will need both a Belgian and a British EORI number. After Brexit, you must register these identification numbers on the customs documents of your shipments to the United Kingdom. You must contact Her Majesty's Revenu and Customs (HMRC) department for a UK EORI number. If you do not yet have a Belgian EORI number, please follow the procedure listed on the Federal Public Service (FPS) Finance website. This website also details whether you need specific licenses for the United Kingdom. You may also have to take into account which goods are excisable, banned, or restricted. Read more.

Requesting a UK VAT number
You will need a United Kingdom VAT number if you ship goods to consumers in the United Kingdom, or if you ship to companies in accordance with the Incoterm Delivery Duty Paid (DPP). Click here to apply for the number. See the UK Government website for more information on paying VAT.

International standards for pallets and other wood packaging
Are you shipping goods to the UK on wood pallets? From 1 January 2021 wood packaging must meet the ISPM15 international standards to enter the UK. It is the sender’s responsibility to use ISPM15-compliant wood packaging from the start of 2021. 

Ensure your papers for the UK are in order
As of January 1, 2021, you must electronically supply the required customs data to DHL as well as add it to the goods for each shipment to the United Kingdom. With our all-in-one shipping tool My DHL Parcel, you can quickly create the correct shipping labels and documents. My DHL Parcel also ensures that you automatically share the customs data with us via digital means. If you are using a custom solution to prepare your shipments, then it is important for you to implement a number of changes. Please ask your dedicated DHL contact person for more information on this topic. You can also contact them regarding our special API for sharing customs data.

Rates and invoices
As the UK will become a customs designation, we will invoice a cost for customs handling as of January 1, 2021. If your goods originate from a non EU country, you will also have to pay import duties. For products that have been produced within the EU, you can avoid these import duties and benefit from the tariff-free provisions in the EU-UK Trade Agreement if you have a statement on origin.

In some cases, DHL will pay an advance for VAT and import duties for shipments to business recipients (Incoterm DDP). Please note that these costs will be charged to you on a separate invoice together with an advance fee.

Save time and money with bulk transport
If you send dozens of shipments to the UK every day, consider using the options available for bulk transport. You can then complete the customs formalities for several shipments all at once. This requires a fiscal entity and a UK-based VAT number, an EORI number, and your own Importer of Record (IOR) for taxes. Please ask your account manager for more information.

Useful links
The Federal Public Service Economy’s website can help you make sure your company is fully prepared for Brexit.