With the Brexit deadline of 31 December nearing, there is still much uncertainty as to what post-Brexit customs arrangements with the European Union (EU) will look like. What we do know is that trade between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and the EU will be impacted, and customs regulations will change. It is important for our clients to begin thinking about the potential impact on their business, and prepare for multiple scenarios.
Below are answers to questions we have begun to receive from ARTA clients as they think through the implications of a post-Brexit world. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for questions related to Brexit, and we will continue to update this post with common questions until further details and regulations are firm.
If I export a work to Europe for a show before 31 December 2020 and it returns after Brexit, will I have to pay import duties and taxes?
Based on the information we have today, we can’t be 100% sure. However, should there be a “hard Brexit” (occasionally referred to as a “no-deal” Brexit, in which the UK leaves the EU without a trade agreement), we would assume that works could be re-imported into the UK as Returning Goods. This would allow works to return to the UK duty and tax free if they were originally exported out of the UK within the last 3 years.
If you are exporting a work from the UK to the EU temporarily at this time, please be sure to keep the following documents on file: CMR, Collection and Delivery Notes, any documents that clearly state when and where the work left from.
What will be the post-Brexit customs arrangement?
Again, we haven’t heard enough from the government to be 100% sure. The ultimate goal of the government is to leave the EU with preferential access to the single market and customs union, but it’s still unclear if this will be the end result. In an attempt to ‘threaten’ the EU from walking away from an agreement if the terms aren’t acceptable for the UK, the government is currently posturing for a hard Brexit, tearing up the Northern Ireland Protocol. Only time will tell if this tactic is successful.
What can we be certain about? The uncertainty caused by the government’s posturing and the inevitable downstream effects, such as companies not filing the correct paperwork with the new Smart Freight system and subsequent delays forming at the Dover > Calais border. If a hard Brexit does occur, the EU is expected to impose full goods controls on the UK, stopping all freight without the correct documentation at the end of the transition period on 1 January 2021.
I have a quote for an EU > EU shipment next year. Is that quote guaranteed?
With so much uncertainty around customs arrangements after 31 December 2020, we cannot guarantee any pre-agreed rates and transit schedules. Regardless of the outcome, we will work hard to stay within your budget and timeline, and continue to deliver a cost-effective and transparent service. Please be patient with us as we navigate this uncharted territory, and know that our team is keeping up with ever-changing information. We will be sure to alert our clients as soon as we know of any new developments with certainty.
What can I do to prepare for a “hard” Brexit?
As the end of the year approaches, we have been asked by UK-based galleries how best to prepare if the UK does not agree to a trade deal with the EU by 31 December. If a gallery ships predominantly throughout the EU, they will of course want to maintain access to the Single Market and not burden their clients with additional import duties and taxes when shipping from the UK to EU countries. To maintain access in the event of a hard Brexit, UK-based galleries could look to move their goods into mainland Europe and store them there before 31 December. This would allow for works in Free Circulation to continue to move throughout the EU without incurring additional duties and taxes. Please consult with relevant staff and financial advisors to weigh the implications on your business.
ARTA has worked with our partners in Europe to provide our clients with storage options in preparation for this scenario. Please reach out to our team to inquire about these options.