Many UK companies importing goods from the EU could be "sleepwalking" into a crisis by failing to prepare for the introduction of new customs declaration rules, industry experts have warned.
According to supply chain publication the Loadstar, many importers who have dealt exclusively with imports from the EU will not have needed to make customs declarations before and, despite a six-month grace period to prepare for new rules, are still at risk of failing to declare.
From January 1st 2021, companies importing goods from the EU are required to make customs declarations, though they have been able to delay this for up to six months from the date of entry in order to reduce strain on the system and provide sufficient time to adjust to new post-Brexit procedures.
But with these deadlines now expiring for goods imported in the first few months of the year, customs experts have said many firms may end up inadvertently failing to declare.
One broker told the Loadstar many importers have viewed the declarations as "administrative paperwork that can wait" as they already have a lot to deal with in the new post-Brexit trading environment.
Some experts also expressed concerns about future implications of the delay and how the post-Brexit rule changes have been handled by the government.
For instance, import brokers are now required to have one of several certifications, with the most sought-after being the Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP), which allows for swifter customs clearances.
However, a source told the Loadstar: "CFSP is the only mechanism for meeting the declaration requirements of goods imported under the six-month waiver and it took us five months to be certified, despite filing a perfect application."