As we approach the UK's departure from the EU on 29 March 2019, HMRC has issued an update on how businesses can prepare for Brexit. Whilst the Government is adamant that leaving the EU with a deal remains a priority, businesses should prepare for every eventuality, including the possibility of no deal.

Obtaining an EORI number

In order to plan for a no deal scenario, if your business conducts trade only within the EU, the first thing you should do is apply for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. This will enable your business to continue to import or export goods with the EU after 29 March 2019 if there is a no deal exit. An EORI number will also be required to apply to be authorised for customs processes that are intended to make cross-border trading quicker, easier and cheaper.

If you are a UK business that trades with the EU, you can apply for an EORI number electronically here.

The application form that you will need to complete will depend on whether or not you are VAT-registered. If you are not VAT-registered, there are different application forms to complete depending on whether you import (including if you import and export), or just export.

Further considerations

HMRC advises that you should also think about whether to appoint an agent to make import/export declarations for you or if you want to make them yourself. If you decide on the latter, you will need to purchase software that is compatible with HMRC's systems and you will need your EORI number to submit declarations using this software.

The Government has also created a tool called 'Prepare your business for the UK leaving the EU' which provides general support and guidance. The tool can be used to find out:

  • how your business can prepare for Brexit;
  • what may be changing in your sector; and
  • specific rules and regulations that apply to your business.

Next steps

Brodies has also produced a checklist for businesses to assess how ready they are for Brexit, which can be found here.

If you require any specific advice or support, please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact or a member of the Corporate Tax and Incentives team.