No-Deal Brexit Update – TSP Auto Registration and the Irish Border

Government Announcement

On Tuesday 15 October 2019, HMRC announced that more than 95,000 VAT registered businesses across the UK, that have been identified as importing goods from the EU, have been automatically registered for its simplified import procedures. This is known as Transitional Simplified Procedures (“TSP”)

Impacted business will have received or will be receiving this letter from HMRC.

Why is the government doing this?

HMRC Interim CEO Jim Harra said:

“We are doing everything we can to help businesses get ready for Brexit on 31 October.

This move will support the trade of thousands of businesses and is part of our longstanding policy of making sure we continue to keep trade flowing.”

Given we are potentially mere weeks away from a No-Deal Brexit, HMRC’s hand is being forced as businesses haven’t voluntarily signed up and HMRC are attempting to avoid congestion and delays on goods entering the UK.

As with the auto allocation of EORI numbers in August 2019, the government had clearly hoped more businesses would have applied voluntarily for TSP, which is a scheme designed to make it easier for businesses to import in the event of a No-Deal Brexit, particularly businesses that would be completing customs processes for the first time.

This is again a timely reminder that a significant number of businesses and individuals have not taken even the most basic of No-Deal Brexit preparation steps the government had hoped for necessitating direct action by the Government. 

As with the auto issuing of EORI numbers this is a welcome development but a very limited development and does not scratch the surface of what businesses and individuals need to do to prepare for a No-Deal Brexit.

What is TSP?

This TSP scheme is a simplification measure that in the event of a No-Deal Brexit provides businesses with the key benefits of allowing most businesses up to 6 months to:

  • Send HMRC customs declarations; and
  • Pay any customs duties to HMRC after importing goods from the EU.

In a No-Deal Brexit, for goods imported before 30 April 2020, businesses will have until 6 May 2020 to submit the supplementary declaration to HMRC.

If a business has duties or taxes to pay (including import VAT if not registered for VAT), HMRC will take your direct debit on the 15th day of the month that your supplementary declaration is submitted.

Businesses need to  check if customs duty will be due on goods they import (see temporary tariffs).

TSP will therefore give businesses time to get to grips with changes and delay payment.

Being registered for TSP does not mean the simplified procedures must be used and the current full processes for import declarations and payment can be still used should a business choose this method e.g. where an agent will be used.

Businesses that have not registered for TSP or have not been auto-registered should register now. 

Our recommendation is that It is better to have it and not use it than not have it and need it!

Please see our previous blog for further Brexit advice.

Northern Ireland- Hidden in the Small Print

Along with the TSP auto registration letters, HMRC have also issued letters to EU-only traders in Northern Ireland about importing and exporting after Brexit.

This confirms for imports from Ireland into Northern Ireland:

“You will not:

  • Have to pay UK customs duties on any goods that you import from Ireland
  • Need to make customs import declarations to HMRC unless the goods are controlled, licenced or where excise.”

This is a major shift and would treat Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the UK. The letter confirms:

“Trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland will be treated differently from other UK-EU trade. This reflects the government’s commitment to do everything in its power to avoid a hard border. Temporary rules will apply while longer-term arrangements are made. HMRC will give you an appropriate amount of time before introducing any new requirements or changing existing ones.”

The letter also covers Northern Ireland trade with EU countries other than Ireland.

Notable by its absence is the position for movement of goods from Northern Ireland to the UK mainland.

If a business does not have to pay UK customs duties on any goods that are imported from Ireland to Northern Ireland, is customs duty due if those goods go on to cross the Irish sea to the UK mainland?  The answer must surely be yes, otherwise businesses could import goods to Ireland and then move these via Northern Ireland to the UK avoiding customs duty on import. This would indicate the government has shifted its position to potentially agreeing to a new ‘UK’ border in the Irish Sea?

HMRC appear to be ahead of the government’s own announcements on the proposed resolution of the thorny issue of the Irish border.

Hopefully we will today have further details on the government’s new ‘Brexit’ deal with the EU, which would of course still need to be ratified by the UK and EU parliament.

Get ready for an action-packed weekend for all things Brexit!

How can we help?

Our team can assist businesses prepare for a No-deal Brexit including evaluating the impact, assessing exposures and developing strategies for minimising the financial and practical impact.

For more information please contact Hydeam Sulton on 0191 285 0321 or email