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Five ways to get your business ready for 1 January

With less than 60 days to go, the outcome of Brexit negotiations remains unknown. But regardless of a deal or no deal, you should be asking ‘how can I prepare for Brexit’? Here are five ways to get your business ready for 1 January.

Planning is really important and with increasing COVID restrictions, leaving things to the last minute isn’t a good idea.

  1. Talk to suppliers and customers

It’s one thing to understand how changes will affect your business, but you also need to know how it will affect your suppliers and customers. What do your current contracts say. Are there commitments outstanding that you will need to honour?

Do your suppliers have plans in place to avoid delays? Will they be increasing their prices from 1 January to cover additional tariffs or taxes?

  1. Know your employees right to work

Can all of your staff continue to work in the UK legally? It sounds dramatic, but if you have staff from the EU/Switzerland/EEA, already working for you, they will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021.

If you are planning to recruit staff from outside the UK, then from 1 January they would need a visa to work in the UK. To get the visa, they’ll need to show they have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor. So, if your business recruits from outside the UK, you can apply to become an approved sponsor. This can take a number of weeks, from the date of application.

  1. Register for an EORI

No, it’s not a medical procedure, it stands for Economic Operators Registration and Identification number. Without registering, your business will not be able to move goods between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and the EU. The EORI will start with GB, and take no more than five working days to set up. If you’re thinking ‘how can I prepare for Brexit’, registering for an EORI might be the first step.

If you move goods to or from Northern Ireland, it’s worth considering that you’ll need an EORI number that starts with XI. In order to apply, you must already have an EORI that starts with GB though.

  1. Think about your data

Do you know where your data is held? It might not seem like a major component of preparing for Brexit. But, if your customer data is held in the EU, then it’s a good idea to consider moving it before 1 January. A no deal scenario could create complications if your data is not in the UK.

If your business is only based in the UK, but you offer goods or services to individuals in the EEA, you will still need to comply with the EU data protection regime. In most cases you will also need to appoint a suitable representative in the EEA. You can find more information about this on the ICO website.

It’s also worth factoring in time to review your privacy policies as these may need to be updated.

  1. What will the tax and customs changes be?

Take some time to research the changes to taxes and tariffs. How will they affect your business and how can you minimise their impact? It might not just be one change that affects your business. Not having the right information could result in delays to orders or supplies. You may end up having to pay a surprise bill to cover increased costs.

It can save you time, and money, to speak to an accountant. The knowledge they have about the changes Brexit will bring could be invaluable. Plus, they can advise on what is relevant to your business and ensure your business continues to run tax efficiently.

If you need to employ a customs agent or register for VAT in an EU country, they’ll give you that information.

Being in the dark about changes to duty and VAT isn’t an option come 1 January 2021.

Don’t wait

How can you prepare for Brexit? Don’t wait to see if it’s going to be deal or no deal. Plan now and find out how your business could be affected. Getting your EORI number in place and finding out if your staff have the right to work, can and should be done now.

Speak to your accountant about VAT registration and tax changes. By acting now, you can avoid unnecessary delays and costs. In addition, a good accountant can advise you on how reliefs and grants may differ from 1 January 2021.

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Avatar for Liz Cordell
About Liz Cordell

I’m an experienced copywriter, with a great attention to detail. Having previously held positions at a global publisher, a top 100 law firm and a Big Four professional services firm, I now work with clients across a range of industries. Whether it’s new content for a website or creating interesting blogs for my clients, I can create engaging copy that doesn’t take a lifetime to read.

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