Brexit: Government releases UK tariff with details of customs duty rates

22 May 2020

The Government has announced the UK’s new tariff regime, the UK Global Tariff (UKGT). This will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff on 1 January 2021 at the end of the Brexit Transition Period.

With UKGT, the Government aims to making it easier and cheaper for businesses to import goods from overseas while recognising the need for protecting UK producers. The result is that 60% of trade will come into the UK tariff free on WTO terms or through existing preferential access - a higher percentage of tariff free goods than currently applies under the EU’s Common External Tariff.

UKGT will apply to imports from the EU as well as from non-EU countries, therefore, it will affect all UK imports. Different industries will be affected in different ways; for some the net effect will be lower overall duty costs while companies reliant on EU suppliers may encounter the concepts of duty costs and customs declarations for the very first time. BDO’s Customs and International Trade team can help determining what the net effect is for any given business.

It is important to keep in mind that the Government may revise the UKGT at any point in time – before as well as after 1 January 2021. We encourage businesses to be alert to this, and check continuously for updates on GOV.UK.

Tariffs that remain

The Government is maintaining tariffs on a number of products, backing UK industries such as agriculture, automotive and fishing (e.g. maintaining current tariffs on lamb, beef, and poultry as well as the current 10% tariff on cars). Some tariffs are also being maintained to support imports from the world’s poorest countries that benefit from preferential access to the UK market.

The changes

Changes include rounding tariffs down to standardised percentages, scrapping what the Government labels as “unnecessary” tariff variations and “nuisance tariffs” (those below 2%). UKGT also removes thousands of tariff variations on products - including over 13,000 tariff variations on products like biscuits, waffles, pizzas, quiches, confectionery, and spreads. Products with zero duty rates include goods used in UK production as well as finished goods: copper alloy tubes, screws and bolts, cooking products, dishwashers, freezers, et al.


All traders who move goods across the UK/EU border should:

  • Make sure they have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, which is required to make customs declarations and for applying for authorisation to use customs simplifications and procedures. HMRC’s online application process can be accessed here
  • Verify that they use correct customs commodity codes for imported goods.
  • Check the UKGT for any changes to the classification or duty rate on the goods they will import after 1 January 2021 – or ask BDO to assist with determining the impact on your duty costs.
  • Ensure they have sufficient in-house customs knowledge and adequate customs compliance controls in place by 1 January 2021 when the Brexit Transition Period ends – BDO can provide customs technical training and “Brexit Health Check” type of gap analysis.

The following BDO information may also be useful:

BDO microsite: Brexit planning for business
BDO Insight: Why Authorised Economic Operator status is essential for manufacturers with non UK supply chains