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Small Business Advice on Beating Brexit

With Brexit fast approaching and, it seems, the government struggling to make a deal, most of us still have no clear concept of what the outcome will be.  One thing is for certain, though – we’re sure to see some changes in the coming months and the more we prepare, the better we will be able to weather whatever comes our way.  If you’re a small business owner who trades with European partners or customers, HMRC has some advice for those who trade only with the EU on preparations they should be making in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.

Some of the preparations that HMRC advises small business owners to take include:

  • Register for a UK EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number to trade within the EU.  If your business is VAT-registered, you can complete the application for EORI on the HMRC website.  If you’re not VAT-registered, there are different forms available for importers and exporters of goods.  These forms should take less than ten minutes to complete and submit electronically. 
  • Register for Transitional Simplified Procedures – this is a new process designed to make importation easier than it may otherwise be for the initial period after Brexit.
  • Decide whether to hire a customs agent to take care of your import/export declarations or whether you want to make the declarations yourself using software designed for this purpose. 

However, if you currently trade good in other parts of the world, as well as the EU, and you already use the customs procedures you need, you don’t need to take the above actions.  There is a range of customs procedures and simplifications that are currently in use when trading with the rest of the world and these can be used to make the processes simpler when trading with EU countries post-Brexit.

Despite the ongoing uncertainty over what Brexit will actually be like, and the fact that both the UK government and the EU claim that a no-deal Brexit is not desirable, it seems to be the most likely outcome as we prepare to publish.  This is the outcome for which the most guidance and documentation has been produced, but only 26% of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK claim to have prepared for this in a recent survey!

With so many issues for SME owners to consider, the most critical areas in the event of a no-deal Brexit are as follows:

  • Customs and indirect tax (such as VAT)
  • Regulatory issues
  • Legal issues
  • Finance and money
  • Systems and data
  • Supply chains

There is some great advice available on the government and HMRC websites on preparing for Brexit (whether we achieve a deal or not).  However, as a small business owner you may prefer to seek professional advice on the specific implications of Brexit on your business.  It’s also imperative right now that you stay up to date on all announcements and publications from both the UK government and the EU, as well as the regulatory authorities in both the EU and the UK.