At the time of writing this, with the exception of controlled items, permission is not required to temporarily move goods to, or from another EU country.
Whether this borderless situation continues if Brexit takes place remains to be seen. The higher probability is that the same regulations will apply as is currently the case for any country outside the EU.
An ATA carnet can not be used, as the goods will not be the same as when they left the UK, even if they superficially appear similar. A carnet by nature requires goods to be of equal value, more or less identical, on exit and return.
When temporary export is needed for processing, or repair, there is still a system to avoid paying VAT and import duty for a second time. In the UK, this is known as Outward Processing Relief (OPR).
Act Before You Send
You need to apply for relief before the items are sent, retrospective claims are not normally possible. Your freight agent may do this for you, or at least help to ensure you have followed the correct procedure.
There can be other routes for occasional items but in most cases, customs form SP4 will need to be completed, online, or by post. Ensuring details are correct matters, from sub contractors, to customs codes.
Keeping customs informed is equally important. This may be because items are being returned in batches, rather than as they were sent, or repairs have been impossible and new items are sent instead.
In the latter instance, the likelihood is that you would become liable for VAT and duties, as if you purchased a new item.
OPR SCheme Principles
For duty and VAT relief to apply, items must originate in the EU, or have been imported to free circulation within the EU and appropriate charges paid at the time.
If you require machinery, or goods to be temporarily imported whilst yours are being repaired, this can not included within the OPR application. You should use a different process called prior importation and provide a guarantee against duties.
Many countries have different customs procedures, or documentation for items entering under an OPR type scheme. You will need to meet these requirements, also check whether the goods you send are controlled and require a separate licence.
As with goods leaving the UK, a reputable agent should be able to advise and the process is not too arduous. The economic advantages will in many cases make this worthwhile.
In a sense, your accepted OPR documentation is similar to a carnet for normal temporary exports. By all means visit our home page, for more information on using an ATA carnet and the benefits this can bring.