Although political uncertainty continues as the Conservative party choose our next Prime Minister, it would be reasonable to assume that UK businesses will be led back towards the no deal Brexit cliff edge in October. That prospect requires some preparation, particularly for businesses that import or export from or to the EU.
Here are the key steps to take to minimise disruption:
- Get an EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number.
An EORI number will allow you to:
- trade goods into and out of the EU
- submit declarations using software
- apply to be authorised for other customs simplification procedures
If you apply now you should get a number well before October - the application takes just a few minutes to complete.
- If you import through roll on/roll off locations, register online for TSP (Transitional Simplified Procedures).
You will need your EORI number first. TSP allow importers to defer giving a full declaration until after the goods have crossed the border, and paying duty until the month after import.
- Check your supply chain and contracts, including Incoterms.
Who pays duties and what is the VAT position if we leave the Single Market without a deal under your contracts? A no deal will also potentially affect trade with third countries outside the EU which rely on EU trade agreements.
- Consider your employees' status.
Make sure any existing employees whose residence in the UK will be affected by Brexit know what they need to do to remain in the UK (for instance whether they need to apply for Settled Status). Also consider whether any new hires starting after October are EEA nationals unable to remain in the UK on a long-term basis in the event of no deal.
- Keep updated.
Government is now regularly publishing updates via www.gov.uk and there are many business organisations supporting their members. Chambers of Commerce are an excellent source of practical advice.
- Consider using a Shipping Agent.
Especially in complex cases, they may be able to help you get up to speed fast with changes, and also other possible variations in process between EU countries with whom you trade.
Applying for EORI numbers and TSP registration should be quick and simple. Checking contracts and your employees' situations may be more complex. We are helping clients with these issues and would be happy to assist you.
If a deal is reached, an implementation period will follow in which the current Single Market rules will continue to apply. It has been anticipated previously that this period would extend to at least the end of 2020, but delay is quite likely to see an extension to a later date.
If you need help getting ready for Brexit, please get in touch with David Emanuel, in our Corporate Law team, on 020 7665 0848.