By Lyndsey Hall
With Britain’s EU exit fast approaching, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the precise details of our departure. In the event of a “no deal” Brexit, the Government has published guidance on its website, and continues to provide updates on how to prepare for the event.
If you own a business that buys and sells from the EU, you need to have flexible contingency plans in place to cope with a variety of possible outcomes. In the event of a “no deal” exit, many UK businesses will need to apply the same processes to EU trade that apply when trading with the rest of the world.
There are a few areas you should consider, particularly if you import or export goods to the EU and haven’t had the need to complete the various forms before.
Movement of Goods
- Register for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.
- Consider an agent to help with completing import/export forms.
- Contact your haulage company to check whether addition information is needed so they can make safety and security declarations or whether you will DIY these.
- Export rules are specific by sector, so review “Preparing your business for the UK leaving the EU” on the Gov.uk website.
- If you import goods then consider registering for “Transitional Simplified Procedures” (TSP) which enables registered importers to defer making customs declarations and paying duty.
- Review guidance on how to prepare for the Customs Declarations service (CDS) which outlines what you need to do to get ready for the CDS. This depends on whether your business currently uses the “Customs Handling of Import and Export Frieght” (CHIEF).
- Review HMRC videos, webinars and consider registering for email alerts – Choose EU Exit.
- You may choose to register for Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status which enables “Trusted” businesses simplified customs procedures. Application does take time and is complex.
- HMRC have acknowledged that a “no deal” scenario may affect the working capital of many businesses and are reintroducing postponed accounting for duty and VAT which will be settled on VAT returns and not at the port.
- If you trade in goods with the EU and keep stock in the EU for supply to EU customers you will need local VAT registration. You could also be asked to appoint a fiscal representative ( and should have bank guarantees as they will be jointly liable for VAT you owe).
- If your business currently uses the UK VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS Union scheme) which allows you to account for VAT – normally due in multiple EU countries, you can continue to use the MOSS system after 29th March, but must register for the VAT MOSS non-Union scheme in an EU member state.
- Consider forming a company in the EU.
Supply Chain Analysis
1. In the event of “no deal” all exports and imports to the EU will be subject to tariffs under the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). You will need to identify where “inputs” come from and which categories of product they fall into so you can work out the tariffs that will apply.
a. Identify the countries you will trade with (EU and non-EU) and the value they represent.
b. Identify EU and International standards your business is currently required to comply with.
c. Identify cross border services provided.
d. For further guidance see Brexit Preparation Guide Supply Chain Mapping.
- If your business has a “EU” domain name you should check the eligibility to hold such a domain.
- If you are involved in eCommerce then read the Government’s EU exit guidance.
- Data Protection – you may need to comply with new licence requirements and changes in regulation. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a six step checklist to prepare for data compliance.
- Copyrights, Intellectual Property (IP) and trademarks – at this point in time it is not clear if EU trademarks would be applicable in the UK post Brexit. If you own intellectual property rights contact your lawyer on protecting your IP post Brexit. For Copyrights click here, for IP click here, and for trademarks click here.
- Management of currency risk – there has been a downward trend in the pound to Euro rate post the vote in 2016. Volatility may occur post Brexit and you should talk to us about managing your currency risk leading up to the 29th March and beyond.
References and Further Resources
- Prepare for EU exit
- British Chamber of Commerce
- EEF (The Manufacturers’ Organisation)
- European Union
If you’d like some advice about your individual circumstances, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss your business and the impact Brexit may have.