Thu, 28th Jan, 2021
The challenges posed by Brexit have been hanging over industries across Ireland since the UK voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. Despite a last-minute free trade agreement on December 31st, Irish companies including KMK Metals Recycling have had to put in a lot of effort to cope with the transition. Our Customs Administrator, Ellen Brophy explains in our latest blog.
I joined KMK Metals Recycling as Customs Administrator in October 2020 in preparation for Brexit on January 1st 2021. My role to begin with was preparing for the changes Brexit would bring within the organisation. I had to consider how Brexit would impact the company and what changes needed to take place to adapt. This involved speaking with all our UK customers, logistic providers, site supervisors, management etc. I then began putting in place protocols to follow in order to have a smooth transition in January.
A little bit of background to Brexit -
On the 23rd of June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union with a result of 52% voting to leave and 48% voting to remain. This day marked the beginning of four years of negotiations. After an 11-month transition period in 2020, the UK formally left the European Union on the 31st of December 2020. This transition period allowed the UK to remain in the EU Customs Union and Single Market. This meant no significant changes were implemented in this time.
This transition period was essential for negotiations to be finalised between the UK and EU. It was also a great opportunity for KMK Metals Recycling to prepare for the impact of Brexit on our operations. With negotiations still underway entering into Christmas 2020, being prepared for both scenarios was crucial. On the 24th of December, the negotiations were finalised with a Free Trade Agreement being agreed between the EU and UK. This benefits Irish organisations as this will eliminate high tariffs and quotas on exports/import in to or out of the UK.
When I began my role as Customs Administrator, I attended Webinars and online training courses ran by the Local Enterprise Office and Skill Net Ireland. Through these I learned a lot about customs declarations, customs duties, and essential requirements for imports/exports. When my Clear Customs course was complete, I then began taking the relevant steps towards becoming ‘Brexit Ready’.
The first thing I needed to do was research potential Customs IT Software to complete export declarations. We wanted a Software provider with a lot of experience in Customs and well-developed training on the software. After many conversations with software providers, we decided to purchase Thyme-IT Customs Software. We felt Thyme-IT met all our requirements and more. Once we were set up on Thyme-IT, we were given a test account to practice declarations without being submitted to Revenue. We found this very beneficial as it was an opportunity to practice, make mistakes and learn from them. The test system and informative training webinars left us feeling confident in completing export declarations in January.
The next step I took in preparing for Brexit was finding each commodity code for our export materials. Commodity codes allows Revenue to classify exactly what you are exporting. It will also highlight if any additional documents are required with the export declaration. It can be difficult to assign the correct code to each material, but I found tutorials on Revenue.ie and Enterprise Ireland’s website extremely helpful. Communication with the importer about what commodity code they were using also helped. These codes are now used on every export declaration issued to Revenue.
Since the 1st of January 2021, the UK is now considered a ‘third country’ and with this comes new regulations and procedures. Export declarations must now be submitted for each load leaving KMK to our UK outlets and likewise, import declarations must be submitted on the UK side. Revenue will then review the declaration and either Green, Orange, or Red route it. Green means it can check on to the ferry, Orange means all paperwork must be checked and Red means a physical check of the load is required. Communication between all parties in the supply chain is essential for a successful customs flow. Thankfully, all our exported material has successfully reached the UK without any issues.
Dealing with a ‘third country’ is new to a lot of organisations in Ireland and ensuring a smooth transition can be difficult. KMK Metals Recycling is lucky to have built such strong relationships and connections with many people in this industry over the past 40 years both in Ireland and the UK. Running into problems with something so new and different was always going to be inevitable. Thankfully, with these strong relationships, I was able to ask for guidance where needed and likewise, I was able to give advice and help to others. This community-like aspect has made the transition to Brexit a much smoother process. All the KMK Metals Recycling staff have been extremely helpful in adapting to the new changes introduced.