The Government is urging businesses to prepare for changes to customs, excise and VAT procedures when the UK leaves the EU. This is expected to happen at 11pm on 31 October 2019, but there could be a further delay until 31 January 2020.
If there are no arrangements in place to temporarily keep the UK within the customs union (no-deal Brexit), import and export procedures will change immediately. Goods that travel over international borders will need to clear customs twice:
when the goods leave the UK (exported goods)
when the goods enter the territory in which they are received (imported goods)
The customs declaration on export is normally done by the exporter, the customs declaration on import is normally done by the importer who receives the goods.
In order to clear UK customs, either for importing or exporting goods, a UK-based business will need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number issued by the UK. This is a 12-digit number starting with GB which includes the business’s VAT registration number.
If a UK business imports goods into an EU country – say it sends goods from its UK factory to its branch in Germany – it will also need an EORI number issued by the EU for the import side of that movement.
HMRC is allocating EORI numbers to VAT-registered traders which it believes have traded with EU countries and don’t already have an EORI number. You may have received a letter about your new unique EORI number.
If your business is not VAT registered it will still need an EORI number if it moves any value of goods across the UK border. There are special arrangements in place for moving goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, so businesses won’t require an EORI number for most types of goods which are moved across that Irish border.
In addition to clearing customs, the UK business will have to pay VAT on any goods imported from the EU into the UK. A trader can register for transitional simplified procedures (TSP), which is an additional process to the EORI number. There may also be tariffs to pay on certain goods, and health and safety certificates to acquire.
You can apply for grants for training to complete customs declarations, and for the IT changes you will need to cope with all the customs filings. However, if your tax returns have been submitted late you won’t be eligible for either type of grant.