Christmas is a busy season, especially for Santa Claus. With workshops in secret locations dotted around the globe, Santa must deliver presents (or coal) to children by a strict, non-negotiable deadline.

With no distribution center in the UK yet, Santa Claus and his team are relying on a speedy customs clearance at the border. Legend has it that children in the UK receive presents made in Santa’s workshop in the EU. So, 2021 was the first post-Brexit transition period delivery.

Will the customs clearance go smoothly? We’ll find out soon.

In 2022, things will get a bit more complex in the UK.

The elves are aware changes are coming. We’ve been contacted by the elf responsible for cross-border operations to help Santa’s team prepare for 2022. Santa prefers a list so he can check items off. Here is what we shared.

Making full customs declarations

It will no longer be possible to delay making customs declarations using the easement introduced by the Border Operating Model. Santa can still supply full information to HMRC in a supplementary declaration, but he (or his secret customs agent) will have to be authorised to use simplified procedures at the time of import.  

If Santa makes deliveries from the island of Ireland, then the easement may still be available, but the time frame is unclear at the moment.

Using the Customs Declaration Service

From 30 September 2022, all import customs declarations must be made to the Customs Declaration Service (CDS), the system that replaces Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF). Santa and his secret customs agent will need to prepare for the change.

Given how organised Santa’s team is, it may be worthwhile looking at making the declarations in-house.  

Rules of origin – supplier’s declaration

Santa can continue to use the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement to claim preferential treatment next Christmas, provided that the agreement won’t be a casualty of the political discussions on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

From January 2022, Santa must collect supplier’s declaration to evidence that the presents, such as toys, made in his workshop have EU preferential origin. Santa must also check if he has all the necessary evidence to support the preferential claims to be made this Christmas.

Rules on bringing reindeer into GB

From July 2022, there are new requirements for live animals physically entering GB. Yes, flying counts too! Controls including the requirements for import pre-notification, health certificate, entry via an established port of entry with an appropriate Border Control Post (BCP), as well as identity and physical checks at BCP will be introduced by Christmas 2022, unless easements are extended.

The good news is Rudolf the red nosed reindeer should have no issue passing the identity check.

EC marking

Toys delivered to children in GB need the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking by 1 January 2023. In case there are delays and the toys are not placed on the market in GB before then, Santa’s workshop should prepare for this unlikely situation by starting to use UKCA instead of CE markings.

Toys delivered to children in Northern Ireland can still have CE markings.

HS codes are changing

The UK’s 2022 Tariff should be used to classify presents imported into the UK. HMRC has already published a useful
correlation table to the 8-digit level from the 2021 tariff to that of 2022.

Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) and port models

There is a list of port locations that support pre-lodged customs controls for movements into GB (i.e., GVMS) from January 2022. If Santa is using one of these ports, then Santa’s sleigh co-coordinators will have to register for the GVMS service to get the gifts through customs.

Plastic packaging tax

As most gifts are wrapped in paper, Santa should not be impacted by the new plastic tax coming into force in April 2022. But since this is a major change, we list it for completeness. The Plastic packaging tax is a tax that will apply to plastic packaging manufactured in, or imported into the UK, that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic.

In any case, exemption applies to manufacturers and importers of less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per year.  

To all our readers, Merry Christmas!

This article was written by Jessica Yang, Director (JY XBorder Consulting LLC) and Toby Spink, Director (BKR Consultants Limited).  

Jessica is a close associate of BKR and a fellow customs and trade practitioner based in London, with a presence in Zurich. She focuses on helping businesses tackle complex technical challenges in the rapidly evolving world of customs.