We will continue to operate as closely as possible to business as usual during the second national lockdown, with Chambers of Commerce, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and most Embassies remaining open.
As during the previous national lockdown, we will continue to operate in a safe, efficient manner, enabling us to arrange the certification, notarisation and legalisation of our clients’ documents wherever possible. In keeping with the current public health advice, we would like to confirm:
- We are continuing to operate our in-person collection and delivery service, subject to additional precautions to protect our employees and clients. Where our clients are working from home, we are still able to offer our collection and delivery service, which can be arranged on a job-by-job basis.
- Quickcert can be used by our Export Shipping Documentation clients to raise Certificates of Origin, EUR-1’s and ATR-1’s online, with the facility to print certified documents at your desk within one hour.
- We are still discouraging all but essential visits to our offices, and have secure drop off areas in place where visits cannot be avoided.
- Face-to-face meetings are currently suspended, however online and telephone conferencing is in place to continue supporting our clients.
The Embassy of China has advised that all visas which were issued before 28th March 2020 have been suspended until further notice and may be subject to cancellation. There has not yet been any announcement on the validity of visas which were issued after 28th March 2020.
It is advised that any upcoming travel to China is not conducted on a previously issued visa. All travellers are advised to apply for a new visa prior to travel to ensure entry into China is permitted.
Further to our previous update, we are continuing our efforts to provide our services with minimal disruption during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Legalisation Office is no longer able to provide legalisation services due to office closures. We are still able to accept corporate legal and regulatory documents, however these will be held pending the legalisation process restarting, and to this end we are working closely with the FCO to clear current backlogs and manage the situation when the Office re-opens.
At present, we are still able to provide all other services, and we are working closely with the authorities to continue to do so. We are also liaising with our network of Notaries, Chambers of Commerce, Embassies and other authenticating bodies, to ensure we are best placed to continue operating in the current climate. We are continuously reassessing our working practices to ensure the safety of our employees, customers and colleagues, and we appreciate your cooperation with this.
In order to provide optimum support to our client base during this time, we have arranged some additional services:
- Collection and delivery service to residential addresses, as well as company premises, to allow those working from home to continue to use our services
- Contactless collection and delivery, to ensure recommended social distancing measures are adhered to
- Secure, full in-house 9 a.m to 5 p.m Chamber of Commerce support, despite widespread closures
- Encouraging the use of our online platform, Quickcert, for our export documentation customers, to limit the movement of physical documentation and to minimise physical interaction with our staff.
Blair Consular Services will continue to operate as closely to business as usual in the current global situation with COVID-19 so that we can meet our clients’ ongoing requirements. However, given the challenging situation that we face and in keeping with the public health advice we are all receiving we would like to discourage all but essential visits to our premises. Where documents are to be dropped off and collected at our main offices we are providing secure drop off areas to minimise any contact between couriers and staff. Likewise, when delivering documents back to our clients we are encouraging our customers to operate a similar system.
We are currently still managing the processing of original documents in the usual manner and we are liaising closely on a daily basis with Chambers of Commerce, Government Departments and Embassies to ensure 1) all documents are still processed as efficiently as possible 2) we are protecting our staff and clients by minimising human contact wherever possible.
In cases where we would usually have face-to-face meetings with our clients we are happy to work with you to provide viable alternative solutions, for example audio and visual conferencing. We are following Government guidelines for our staff to self-isolate should that be necessary, however for the vast majority of our staff we will be working in the office on a daily basis. For those staff whose role allows them to manage documentation remotely we have supplied them with the necessary tools to work from home to ensure minimal disruption to our clients. If you have any questions regarding the above please contact our UK Head office +44 1784 254 123.
The U.K is currently due to leave the European Union on 31st January 2020 under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU. As such, there is not due to be any changes to the issuance of export documentation, such as Certificates of Origin, EUR1’s, ATR’s and ATA Carnets, until at least 2021.
It is anticipated that some changes will be made once the transition period ends, we will provide further information on this as the details are confirmed.
As a global (rather than EU) agreement, there are no current plans to overhaul the ATA Carnet system after the U.K leaves the European Union, however some minor changes may be implemented depending on the outcome of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Preparations have been made by the London Chamber of Commerce for each eventuality, with the most likely outcomes listed below:
An agreed withdrawal process: If the U.K and EU secure a withdrawal agreement prior to the current Article 50 expiry date, the short-term impact will be minimal, with a transition period being implemented until at least early 2021. ATA Carnets will continue to be used in the current manner until the end of the transition period, and the final version of the Withdrawal Agreement will provide guidance on how exporters should process temporary import and export documentation past the transition period.
A “No Deal” withdrawal process: If the U.K leaves the EU without a deal, the U.K would trade on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. As part of this, it is expected that ATA Carnets would be required for temporary exports from the U.K to the EU 27 countries, with the EU member states being treated as one destination for ATA Carnet purposes. The anticipated security rate for ATA Carnets destined for use in the EU is 40% against the value of the goods, however this will be confirmed in due course.
The application process and paperwork would remain the same, however new ATA Carnet documentation would be issued with immediate effect which confirms the U.K’s revised status as a non-EU member.
The above outcomes are based on the scenario that a free trade agreement is not in place between the U.K and EU, however if a free trade agreement is implemented it may include the terms that temporary imports are given duty free status, and therefore a guarantee in the form of an ATA Carnet would not be required.
Regardless of the outcome of the ongoing negotiations, Blair has a dedicated ATA Carnet department who are closely monitoring the situation alongside the London Chamber of Commerce and are ready to support exporters with their export documentation requirements in all eventualities. Please contact us via one of the following methods for current, up-to-date assistance:
Tel: +44 (0) 1784 772959
Further to our previous update on 22nd February regarding the issues affecting the electronic payment system used by the Saudi Arabian Embassy, we are delighted to confirm that we are now able to continue to lodge Corporate Legal documents to the Embassy for legalisation. Some minor delays may still occur while the backlog is cleared.
We have been informed that with immediate effect, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia will no longer be legalising Certificates of Origin or Commercial Invoices. The Arab-British Chamber of Commerce is in discussion with the Embassy about future arrangements, as legalised Certificates of Origin and Commercial Invoices are often a crucial requirement for importers into Saudi Arabia. As a result of this, all Arab-British Certificates of Origin currently being processed by Blair, and any future requests, will be certified only by the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce.