Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 28th February 2019
HMRC is urging companies across the country to prepare for a scenario in which the UK leaves the European Union without having agreed a deal on the terms of its exit.
Business groups have long been insisting that the government should do all it can to ensure that a No Deal Brexit scenario is avoided but the situation cannot yet be ruled out, with the UK currently on course to leave the EU on March 29th.
With that in mind, HMRC has said to British businesses that they need to take a series of steps to make sure that they can continue trading with the EU even if a No Deal Brexit scenario unfolds in the coming weeks.
Three specific steps are given by HMRC as being particularly important focus points for UK companies in advance of Brexit, with the first and most crucial being to register for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number.
The message from HMRC is that without an EORI number, businesses will not be able to trade with the EU in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
Worryingly, only 17 per cent of businesses who might need to register for an EORI are believed so far to have done so.
The next step recommended by HMRC, after an EORI number has been issued, is for companies to decide how they intend to make customs declarations after Brexit, with the appointment of a customs agent said to be the most popular option.
The third recommendation is for businesses that import goods from the EU into the UK using roll on, roll off locations, and they are advised to register for ‘Traditional Simplified Procedures’, meaning methods designed to streamline the importing process.
“We want businesses to be able continue trading with minimal disruption in any scenario but we also know that people tend to leave things until the last minute and we would urge against that,” said Mel Stride MP, financial secretary to the Treasury.
“We are specifically advising businesses to take some simple steps to be prepared - the first thing they need to do is register for an EORI number - it is free and takes less than 10 minutes.
“Step-by-step advice can be accessed via GOV.UK – the help is there, we just need business owners to take action.”