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2019: The Carnet Crystal Ball for Brexit

Business confidence is in short supply with Brexit teetering on a razor’s edge. What is certain in this nerve-wracking balancing act is that, in 2019, U.K. businesses will rely more than ever on specialists and organizations of their peers to help them navigate cloudy waters. Here is an ATA Carnet Specialist’s view of what exporters need to know.

Whether or not shipments of temporarily imported commercial items to the E.U. will eventually be required to present a financial guarantee is unknown at this time.

Recommendation: Prepare for the possibility of a temporary import guarantee requirement. It doesn't cost anything to do so. Liverpool Chamber’s ATA Carnet specialists can consult with members to plan and project costs in the event that ATA Carnets are required.

The possible temporary import guarantee requirement between the U.K. and E.U. relies on whether the Brexit deal includes withdrawal from the E.U. Customs Union (EUCU). If it is a “soft Brexit,” without withdrawal from the EUCU, there will likely not be a requirement for temporary import guarantees or documents such as ATA Carnets. Life will go on as usual if you ship demo equipment or samples between the E.U. and U.K.

A “hard Brexit,” including withdrawal from the EUCU, would likely mean ATA Carnets (or equivalent) will be required to ship or hand-carry commercial goods or equipment between the U.K. an E.U. if entered for temporary purposes. If your business typically sends commercial samples to another E.U. country without the requirement of a financial guarantee, you would now have to provide an ATA Carnet or other guarantee of payment of duty and import tax.

A caveat: These speculations are applicable in the absence of a U.K. – E.U. free trade agreement. But if some sort of FTA is negotiated, it might stipulate duty- and tax-free status for temporary imports. A financial guarantee would be unnecessary in that case. However, if those same items become dutiable or taxable if not re-exported H.M. Customs and the EUCU just might decide to require a guarantee anyway. The ATA Carnet would be an obvious choice since it is widely used and accepted in all the E.U. countries.

One way both sides could protect themselves from the possibility of unpaid duties and import taxes on temporary imports throughout the transition would be simply to impose the ATA Carnet requirement. If the U.K. exits the EUCU, guarantees of payment of import duties and taxes would already be in place.

The good news is that a few Chambers of Commerce, such as Liverpool, already provide highly automated, expedited and affordable ATA Carnet services. Contact Carnet Specialist Sarah Woolley at 0151 227 1173 or  for more information.