As we begin the countdown to the second date planned for Brexit, and despite the recent, tantalising suggestion that this deadline could be removed by the EU themselves, it is crucial for businesses to review the plans they have in place for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. With less than two months to go, just what areas should you and your business be focusing on to ensure smooth running come 1st November?

Much has been made of the potential problems with supply, with talk of shortages and lorries queueing for days to get across the Channel. Approximately 240,000 UK businesses deal solely with the EU, so if this applies to you, making sure that you have read the information from HMRC advising businesses on a no deal Brexit is essential.

Looking at what is needed to comply with the customs formalities, it covers such subjects as using an agent, EORI numbers (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) and how to find and use simplified procedures for importing. The HRMC documents can be found here and the ICAEW has a guide that helps navigate all of the information out there.

Once you have worked out what you need to continue importing from the EU, the next step is to look at your supplies and break them down into different categories such as exports to the EU and imports from the EU. In the event of a worst-case scenario, the 1st November would see WTO tariffs apply and while many companies may use these for trading outside the EU, businesses that solely trade with the EU should familiarise themselves with the tariffs and procedures to avoid any administrative holdups. Details on the current WTO tariffs can be accessed here and the EU ‘third country’ rates here.

After you have sorted out what you need to trade and what you need to pay or charge, it is tempting to think that you are all set to go. Yet technical problems such as lack of compliance or a mis worded contract can cause serious damage to a supply chain. On the 31st October, all UK standards and regulations will be aligned to the EU, but if the EU suddenly decided to stop recognising our standards, problems may occur. This could well be an absolute worst case scenario, but staying informed on the Government’s latest guidance will help keep you informed of the most recent developments. Check through any contracts you have in place to see if these will need to be re-negotiated in a post Brexit world.

Finally, use the points above to develop a worst-case scenario budget for your business. When it come to planning for Brexit, considering the extra tariffs, time spent by staff preparing additional documents and the cost of lawyers re-writing contracts understandably feels like a depressing process but one you will be thankful of come the last day of October.

 

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