Traders urgently need clearer guidance on what to do nextby Anna Jerzewska / August 9, 2019 / Leave a comment
With Brexit less than 100 days away, the prospect of no deal is more likely than ever. The UK’s transitional border plans were released in February ahead of the March deadline. Increasingly large sums have been spent on preparation. But many companies aren’t ready. As a result of no deal, what presently are considered moving goods within the EU would become imports and exports and as such many UK companies would need to familiarise themselves with customs and border procedures for the first time.
The government needs to increase its efforts and actively support businesses in preparation, to avoid chaos at the borders. But crucially, it is not enough simply to put contingency measures in place. The government also needs to think about how it communicates with firms to increase awareness and engagement. There is no point announcing more money and assistance if businesses don’t know about the help or do not understand how to access it.
In the event of no deal, all UK traders will be responsible for making customs declarations for the goods moving between the UK and the EU, as well as from the UK to the rest of the world. They will need to hire and train staff to undertake customs procedures and purchase appropriate software that allows them to connect to HMRC’s customs declaration systems. Alternatively, companies can choose to seek help from a customs broker. Even then however, they will typically remain liable for declarations made on their behalf and will need to be familiar with the process.
No deal would affect companies in different ways. Large firms, which have experience of trading with non-EU countries, will often have complex structures leading to specific challenges. Around 145,000 VAT-registered companies that have not previously traded with countries outside the EU will need to understand the basics of international trade and their obligations as first-time importers and exporters. They will also need to apply for an Economic Operators’ Registration and Identification (EORI) number—a number each company trading internationally is required to have.
The key element in the government’s no-deal preparations so far is the simplification of the standard import and export procedures—the Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSPs)—which would apply to the majority of UK-EU trade. Technical guidance, with explanations on how the procedures will work and how to register to use them, was published on HMRC’s website.
The government has made several other efforts to reach out to businesses. Letters were…