Importing and Exporting Goods to Combat COVID-19
Many companies are engaged in sourcing goods to help those dealing with the consequences of the COVID-19 virus and this document is aimed at providing some guidance. Clients need to be aware that there have been many instances where goods have been supplied, which have been deemed to be sub-standard and are therefore putting people at greater risk. To deal with this issue, the authorities in China, the European Union and UK are taking steps to ensure only approved goods are brought to market, which may involve physical checks taking place, so do ensure goods are sourced from reliable suppliers.
Moving Goods Through Customs During COVID-19
For urgently required goods which are in transit to assist in the combat against COVID-19, HMRC have made several easements to speed up the process. If you are involved with importing such goods, do speak to your local ACS contact who will be able to assist you.
Requirement to Comply with Standards
The specification for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which includes gowns, surgical face masks, respirator masks, eye protection and protective coveralls can be found by following this link. It is important to recognise that there are different levels of protection available which will depend on the nature of the use of the PPE.
All goods should comply with European Union standards, although, goods can be imported, so long as they meet the appropriate standards and evidence is to hand that the accreditation process is underway. Full details can be found here.
The European Safety Federation has received many reports of fake documentation and posted this report, which importers should take note of. This includes links to check the authenticity of certificates.
Duty and VAT Relief
Duty and VAT relief may be available if goods are imported by or on behalf of an organisation based in the UK who are:
State organisations, including state bodies, public bodies and other bodies governed by public law
Other charitable or philanthropic organisations approved by the competent authorities
Further information can be found by following this link.
Export Controls in China
The customs authority in China has recently imposed a new regulation to ensure that Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) being exported meets the appropriate level of quality. The requirement is that all suppliers and manufacturers must obtain a certificate from the China Inspection and Quarantine Bureau after inspection of the goods. Shipments will be released by China Customs for export after certification. This process is apparently very easy but may take several working days.
Non-medical supplies, including non-medical masks will be inspected by Customs to ensure they are not medical supplies.
Exporting PPE from the UK and EU.
In order to protect stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE), an export licence is now required for goods to be exported from the member states of the European Union and the United Kingdom. A link to the legislation can be found by following this link and details of how to apply for a licence and the applicable goods can be found here. This is a short-term arrangement and subject to review.