Businesses are becoming increasingly frustrated by the government’s inability to reach a consensus on a deal with EU. Without some certainty of what the business environment will look like, post the UK’s leaving date of Friday 29 March 2019, many are deferring any investment plans which is causing a stall in the economy. 

While commercial investment decisions are key to businesses many consider taxation as a whole should be unchanged as a result of Brexit. Whilst this is true to a large extent VAT and Customs Duties will have to adapt. 

At the end of last year HMRC began to issue guidance on two core issues around imports and exports and customs duties. Indeed more recently HMRC have reiterated that businesses should prepare for a no-deal Brexit, despite recent political indications that this is hoped to be avoided. 

On a positive note HMRC have indicated that they will adapt VAT rules on all imports so that VAT can be dealt with through traders’ VAT returns rather than at the point of import, to avoid cash flow issues. However, businesses dealing with imports and exports should consider the following; 

1. If not already obtained, you should register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. Without an EORI, you will be unable to sell goods outside the UK. It will also be needed to apply for customs declarations. 

The applications are simple to complete, requiring only basic information, and further guidance and links to the applications can be found HERE.

2. If importing or exporting goods, you must complete a report (a Declaration) for every consignment. This Declaration is sent to HMRC and includes a range of information about the goods concerned. For those currently used to only dealing with the EU, these reports will be something new once we leave. These reports can be particularly time consuming and getting the correct Commodity Code is vital to ensure the correct duty is paid and avoid unexpected liabilities. For this reason many businesses choose to outsource the process to a Freight Forwarder. 

Alternatively, you may be able to apply for a HMRC grant to help fund training for you to complete the declarations yourself. Further details can be found HERE.

3. Contact any organisation that moves your goods (for example, a haulage firm) to find out if they have considered whether any additional information will be needed for them to comply with their responsibilities and if so, what you will need to provide. 


For further advice on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact me or your local Thomas Westcott contact.