Businesses must prioritise no deal Brexit plans, warns HMRC

Some 200,000 UK businesses have yet to apply for the necessary paperwork to carry out trade with the EU in the event of a no deal Brexit, and HMRC is advising them to check their contingency plans urgently, as it has a limit of processing 11,000 applications a day

In September 2018, December 2018 and January 2019, HMRC wrote directly to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses that only trade with the EU advising them to start their preparations and apply for an economic operator and registration identification (EORI) number.

There are another estimated additional 95,000 non-VAT registered businesses that also need to take action. Despite these letters, only 40,973 have registered for an EORI number since October.

 HMRC is urging business owners to prepare now and consider three steps to ensure their businesses can continue to trade with the EU if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Applying for the EORI number is the first step. UK businesses that have only ever traded inside the EU will not have an EORI number, and in the event of a no deal exit, businesses will be unable to continue trading with the EU without one.

HMRC has the capacity to sign up 11,000 businesses per day for EORI numbers.

After getting an EORI number, businesses need to take the second step and consider how they want to make customs declarations. Businesses can appoint a customs agent if they want someone else to do it. Most businesses with customs obligations choose to use a customs agent.

For businesses that import goods into the UK from the EU using roll on roll off locations, they can take a third step and register for new transitional simplified procedures (TSP). TSP will allow businesses to import without having to make a full customs declaration at the border, and postpone paying any import duties. For imports using other locations, and for exports, standard customs declarations will apply.

Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘We want businesses to be able continue trading with minimal disruption in any scenario but we also know that people tend to leave things until the last minute and we would urge against that.

‘We are specifically advising businesses to take some simple steps to be prepared – the first thing they need to do is register for an EORI number, it is free and takes less than 10 minutes.

‘Step by step advice can be accessed via gov.uk – the help is there, we just need business owners to take action.’

To help businesses make import and export declarations, HMRC has made £8m in funding available for traders and intermediaries to support them with training and IT costs. There is still £3m available, so there is time for businesses to put in a bid.

Apply for an EORI number here.

Register for the new TSP process here.

Letters to traders here.

Applications for training and IT grants on making customs declarations here.

Report by Pat Sweet

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