Thursday 24 August 2017

'Some form of customs' will apply to businesses post-Brexit - but Revenue stresses it is not looking for customs post sites

But top official tells businesses to assume there will be some form of customs procedures post Brexit

Revenue stresses it is not looking for sites for customs posts
Revenue stresses it is not looking for sites for customs posts
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Businesses moving goods across Northern Ireland and Britain are being advised by Revenue to assume that some form of customs will apply post Brexit.

But Niall Cody, Revenue chairman, said the body was not negotiating with its counterparts in the UK on post Brexit arrangements, or looking for sites for customs posts.

He said the agency was engaged in assessing the potential impact of Brexit for Irish traders, and that planning is based on the full range of possibilities, including the prospect that customs controls or processes will apply between Ireland and the UK.

Mr Cody told the Oireachtas Finance Committee this morning that there were 12,000 businesses in Ireland exporting to the UK, and some 60,000 importers.

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“In addition, an unknown number of businesses regularly move goods and transit across Northern Ireland and across the UK. Most of these businesses are unfamiliar with customs procedures,” he said.

“While it is not possible to provide detailed guidance, we are advising these traders and transport operators making long term plans, to assume that customs procedures of some form will apply post Brexit. As soon as we have a reasonable sense of what’s needed, we will provide clear, relevant and appropriate information to support business and trade.”

Mr Cody said Revenue processes around 1.4 million customs declarations every year, with 53pc imports, and 47pc exports.

Exports, he said, are generally checked only for security and safety reasons. Last year, less than 0.5pc of export declarations were checked.

Customs checks mainly apply to imports, Mr Cody said, with 6pc of import declarations checked last year, and less than 2pc were physically checked. He said the vast majority were carried out in approved warehouses, with just a small number at ports or airports.

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Carol Lynch of BDO Ireland’s customs and trade practice told the committee the cost of lodging customs declarations for businesses exporting and importing to and from the UK would be €100 per movement. That’s €50 on each side of the border, per invoice.

“The implication of this [Brexit] for Irish Industry is significant,” Ms Lynch said.

“Firstly there will be a requirement to lodge customs declarations on all imports from and exports to the UK. It is to be assumed the same requirement will be implemented in the UK. There is a necessary cost for this, either in the payment of a clearance agent or the recruitment of staff in addition to logistics related costs. A reasonable estimate would be €100 per movement.”

Brain Keegan, director of public policy and tax at Chartered Accountants Ireland, said the introduction of customs controls between Ireland and the UK is now all but inevitable.

“Because the nature of the land border to be created for Customs is virtually unique, Ireland will be under intense scrutiny from our EU partners to get our Customs controls with the UK both watertight and legally valid,” he said.

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