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Brexit – preparing your business for leaving the EU

HMRC recently wrote to VAT registered businesses that currently import and / or export goods with the EU. The letter sets out actions that it’s important to take now and changes you need to be prepared for, in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The actions set out do not apply to importing and / or exporting goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

You will need an Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI) number. If you have a UK EORI number beginning with the prefix ‘GB’, you should have it to hand to use for UK-EU trade and take steps so you are ready to complete customs processes on your UK-EU trade. If you have an EU EORI number beginning with a different prefix (eg ‘IE’ or ‘FR’), HMRC will continue to recognise your EU EORI number for a temporary period and will provide further information in due course. New Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) are being introduced by HMRC for businesses established in the UK to make importing from the EU as easy as possible in the initial period after the UK leaves the EU, should there be no deal. You will need to sign up online for TSP, using your EORI number. There will be further changes to customs procedures, and you may wish to consider whether to make transit declarations yourself or to use an agent or freight forwarder.

If your business exports goods to the EU from the UK, you will need to make an export declaration to HMRC, and will need to comply with EU member state customs and controls.

In the event of no deal, you will be able to declare and recover import VAT in your next VAT return, rather than when your goods arrive at the border (‘VAT postponed accounting’), It will also be possible to use VAT postponed accounting for imports from the rest of the world.

If you use the VIES website to check a customer or supplier’s VAT number, in the event of no deal, UK VAT numbers will no longer be part of this service. An alternative service will be provided on the gov.uk website.

You may wish to register for HMRC’s email update service at www.gov.uk/hmrc/business-support. There is also a useful tool to help establish what you may need to do at https://www.gov.uk/business-uk-leaving-eu

As always, please contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss the above further.