Does your business import from the EU?

This is how to get Brexit-ready

The clock is ticking on Brexit, and if – as seems likely – we leave the EU on 31 October, your business now has only a matter of days to get ready.

If your firm imports goods from the European Union, you’ll want as seamless a transition as possible. To achieve this, there are a few bits of admin you need to complete as soon as you can. There’s quite a lot to do, so it’s best to get started now!

First of all, you need to get a UK EORI (European Operators Registration and Identification) number. If there’s no deal, you’ll need this number to move goods in and out of the UK. If you don’t get one you could face extra costs and delays. For example, HMRC may take longer to clear your goods – meaning you have to shell out for storage fees. The good news is that it only takes a few minutes to apply for an EORI number and you’ll get it straight away (or within 5 working days if HMRC has to make checks). Simply log in to the Government Gateway and follow the link on this page.

Once you’ve done that, you need to decide who will make any customs declarations. If another organisation brings your goods into the UK, you need to ask whether they can make customs declarations. If they can’t, you can either hire an agent to make the declarations or do the job yourself. HMRC publishes guidance on this here.

You’ll want to make importing from the EU as simple as possible. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, HMRC will introduce transitional, simplified import procedures. These cut the amount of information you need to supply in an import declaration. You’ll need your EORI number to apply. This page has more details on how to go about it.

The next step is to find out what you’ll have to pay to import your goods from the EU – including customs duty, excise duty and VAT. HMRC publishes temporary rates of customs duties on imports, excise duty tariffs and guidance on accounting for import VAT after a no-deal Brexit.

Last, but not least, you’ll need to check whether there are extra things you need to do, depending on the type of goods you need to import. This is a complex area, and we strongly suggest that you get advice well in advance of Brexit. For example, if you import food or drink, labelling changes restrict the use of EU emblems for organic produce. You’ll also need a licence to import certain goods, including everything from plants and firewood to medicines and weapons.

As you can see, there’s a lot to do before Brexit day – so the sooner you get this red tape tied up, the better! If you’d like any advice on what steps you need to take, please get in touch. Our accountants  at THP would be delighted to help you, with offices in ChelmsfordCheamWansteadSaffron Walden and London City.

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