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Brexit horror stories & the future of removals to or from the EU

in Expat Life, Expat Tips and Hints, Facebook Posts, General, Tips on Stress Free Removals
Brexit Horror Stories and the future of your removal to or from the EU

Read this blogpost to find out how household removals between the UK and any country in the European Union will work in the future. And also how Brexit horrors are happening as we all get used to the new rules. If you’re looking for a removal to or from the EU, I am pleased to tell you that Indalo Transport in the UK and Indalo Storage in Spain will take care of everything for you. This prevents you from having to deal with any of the problems mentioned in this article.

UPDATE : The return of the Specialist Remover – A review of Removals from the UK to the EU – now we are Brexit + 5 months

EU-GB-SplitIt has finally happened. The UK left the European Union on December 31st, and began 2021 as an independent sovereign state. This has finally given the UK control over its own borders, after 47 years as a member of what began as the EC. Following years of negotiation on an exit deal, it seemed like we would never reach agreement. However, a deal was struck on 24th December, with seven days to go until we would have crashed out of the EU. This free trade agreement will allow goods and services to move freely and to keep tariffs and import duties at zero for most things. However, as a country now outside of the largest trading bloc in the world, there will of course be extra charges to pay when trading in the future.

Just a few weeks into the new rules and we have already heard some horror stories, and a few things that are just plain bizarre.

Horror Stories

We have been told of vehicles prevented from crossing into Europe because they don’t have the necessary paperwork in place, and vehicles impounded for days while the correct clearance is obtained. We have heard how export duty has been applied to Amazon deliveries, and how some major courier and parcel firms have suspended deliveries into the EU. The BBC even reported the incredible story of how Dutch customs have confiscated truckers packed lunches of ham and cheese sandwiches. All because the trade deal prevents the export of dairy products from the UK!

Dutch Customs Confiscate Truck Driver packed Lunches

It has been interesting to discover where removals sit in this brave new world of customs clearance, T1, T2 and SSD forms and much more documentation for transporters. What does the future hold for removals to and from the EU now?

As a removal is technically classed as second hand personal goods, you may think there wouldn’t be a problem moving your own furniture and possessions to your new home in the EU. Read on to find out why that is not the case.

The technical bit!!

When moving to a new country anywhere in the world, you are moving your residence, and therefore your furniture and possessions are changing residency with you. But you are effectively exporting and importing goods, because the UK is now independent and what is called a ‘third country’. To take goods out of a country, you need to export them. To bring them into another country, you must import them. This is the essence of customs clearance. The process entails the value of your goods being assessed, and then they would be subjected to duty and VAT upon entry to the new country. Or tax and duty reliefs could be applied that allow your goods to travel tariff and vat free.  Simple!

Export Process Flowchart

This is the Export Process in a flowchart

So we have gone from completely free movement to full export and import controls, overnight. In short, with anything concerning the EU, there is now a whole new layer of complex bureaucracy to comply with. The start of the new year has seen businesses adapting to a new regime of administration, border checks, customs inspections and regulation. A seemingly endless amount of paperwork.

Indalo Transport have been actively preparing for this since the beginning of 2020 and I’m happy to say that we have everything in place to ensure our customers enjoy a hassle-free removal.

So what has changed?

The easy way to look at things is to realise that the EU border no longer starts at British shores. As the UK is no longer part of the EU, we now enter Europe from the outside. This means we must do certain things before being allowed in.

No longer can anybody just load a van with furniture and head off across the channel.  Now, customs clearance will be required for the load, even if it is all your own stuff.  From now all removals to and from the EU will require in-depth inventories and packing lists. Each client will have to provide proof of identity,  residency and destination, and also provide monetary values. Each removal firm has to be registered with HMRC as an economic operator with an EORI number. They also need to register with the relevant European authorities, or use outside agencies to act on their behalf for the client.

The consequences of things not being done correctly are enormous. Without customs clearance the removal will not even leave the country of export. Trying to enter the EU with undeclared, or wrongly declared goods, will result in delays, fines, and goods being stranded.  If the transporter doesn’t have the correct licensing, insurance, and documentation, the vehicle will be impounded.

Import Process Flowchart

And the Import Process Flowchart – just as complex

It is also worth noting that UK citizens and goods will inevitably be subjected to more intense attention than before. The UK Department for Transport informed all hauliers by email on 13th January that “French Customs have a zero-tolerance policy to HGV drivers without the correct import and export documentation for the goods they are carrying”

What if I moved my own goods?

The short answer is that the same rules apply. If someone loaded their own van with their own furniture, they would still be subject to the same rules. Gauardia Civil Road BlockYou cannot transport any goods into the into or out of the EU without customs clearance. UK registered commercial vehicles are quickly becoming the biggest target for EU traffic and customs authorities. Fines for incorrect documentation and  failure to adhere to weight restrictions will be very easy to enforce – UK vehicles are easy to spot and, even if they do get past the ports, will be easy prey for the Guardia Civil.

Will I be taxed on the value of my furniture?

Possibly. If you are moving as a permanent resident (Transfer of Residency process) then you won’t have to pay vat on the value of your goods in the country you are moving to. However, this is dependent on customs clearance being obtained and the relevant tax reliefs being applied for. If used furniture is being shipped to a holiday home where you don’t have residency, then vat may be payable on the declared value of those goods.

Indalo Transport will apply for customs clearance for all our clients and ensure that the correct reliefs are applied, as part of our normal procedures.

What about sending new stuff to Spain?


An end to cheap furniture from the UK?

We have had a service delivering new items from the UK to Spain since we started in 2013. The ability to save money by buying online in the UK has been very attractive to many clients, even with the cost of transport to Spain added on. I am sorry to say that this has now significantly changed and will be nowhere near as popular in future.

Earlier we touched on the fact that many parcel/courier companies have suspended services between the UK and EU for now. This is because many are unsure of the new processes and charges required, and have been unprepared for the sheer amount of work involved.

To put it in perspective, quite simply every individual client delivery, from a small parcel right up to a big American Style Fridge Freezer or a garden furniture set, will now need customs clearance. And everything being imported into Spain will be subject to Spanish vat at 21%, based on the cost of the item. The result of this is that deliveries of anything new from outside the EU – that’s us in the UK now too – will become more expensive.

A possible loophole?

If you are already a resident of Spain then you may be able to buy things in the UK without vat being added. This because supplies to outside of the UK are not subject to UK vat. However this will very much depend on the supplier. If successful then you will only be charged on the vat when the items get to Spain. Don’t forget though, that there will still be the cost of the customs clearance process.Euros - Indalo Transport

Indalo Transport will continue to offer our ‘UK shopping from Spain’ service for the next few months to test whether it is viable to continue with. But I feel it is very much the end of an era.

Moving Forward

I think that the changes being experienced now will have a profound effect on future removals into Europe.

mojacar_beach_AlmeriaSpain is still a fabulous place to live, that’s why we’re here, and I think these changes are trivial in comparison to the benefits offered by a life in the sun. A bit more red tape,  and a move that will cost a bit more than last year shouldn’t be a deterrent to anybody looking to move home. 

I believe the biggest changes will be within the removals industry itself. It is clear already that customers will choose their removals firm very carefully to ensure that they comply with tax, customs, and legal requirements on both sides of the channel.Indalo Transport DAF Truck Removal firms will need to demonstrate competence dealing with tax authorities and border agencies in order to continue operating.

Most UK companies that might have done a few European removals every year will probably not bother to do any EU removals in the future, because of the extra work involved. They will instead pass the work on to EU specialists who will be able to easily undertake the work.

Man and Van

man and van future in jeopardyI must admit that I find it difficult to see a place in the market for the traditional ‘man and van’ who transports belongings for a bit of cash. Also, the amount of smaller moves to Europe may well decrease anyway because of the more stringent rules for residency in a lot of countries. 

If this happens, the industry as a whole will have a much more professional image, as smaller operators will not be able to survive in European removals in their present form. Man and van may well be restricted to operating at local levels only, and forced to comply with local laws. 

It will certainly be an interesting year for those of us in the industry.

Indalo Transport continues to operate regular trips between the UK, Ireland, France and Spain with storage hubs in Gosport (UK), Dublin (Ireland), and Almeria (Spain). Our service and processes include all dealings with HMRC and other regulatory authorities in all countries, on behalf of our clients

Indalo Transport and Indalo Storage: The only names you need for a stress free European removal.

Read our May 2021 UPDATE : The return of the Specialist Remover – A review of Removals from the UK to the EU – now we are Brexit + 5 months

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