Small businesses are facing more uncertainty than ever before. It’s still unclear whether Brexit will get delayed, if the UK is going to leave the EU without a deal, or if there will be a second referendum.
It’s pretty daunting, but there is plenty of guidance available if you know where to look. In the fourth article in our series on preparing small businesses for Brexit, we’ve created this guide to point you in the right direction.
HMRC has created a tool to prepare your business for leaving the EU. Once you sign up, you answer seven questions, to determine what you need to do and what’s changing in your industry. It also includes information on specific rules and regulations. You can access the tool at UK leaving the EU.
Among its no deal guidance, HMRC has included a useful update on VAT – with specific reference to how businesses trading with the EU pay import VAT and use EU VAT systems. Essentially, the processes that apply to trade with the rest of the world will apply to trade with the EU (with exceptions made to trade across the Northern Ireland/Ireland land border).
HMRC recently published an advice letter to UK businesses that trade with the EU on life after Brexit. Sign up to receive alerts from HMRC here.
What you can do today
- Register for an EORI number. It’s a unique code for your business that’s used to track and register EU customs information. You can get one here through a relatively straightforward application process.
- Make a decision about your import/export declarations. Whether you hire an agent to do it for you or you do it using relevant software, it’s important that you make the choice before the UK leaves the EU.
- Register for Transitional Simplified Procedures. It’s a new process designed to make importing easier after the UK leaves the EU. Registration opened on 7 February and you can get the ball rolling here.
Other useful resources
There is a lot of useful advice elsewhere on the internet. Here’s our top four:
- The Enterprise Nation Brexit Guide. Among other things, it includes a helpful Brexit planning tool so you can create a personal business checklist to plan for different scenarios and work out which changes you need to make – and in which order of priority.
- The Small Business Brexit Pack. Created by the Federation of Small Businesses, it’s a (non-exhaustive, but pretty substantial) field guide to the litany of possible Brexit outcomes, including No Deal, a Free Trade Agreement, membership of the European Economic Area, and membership of the European Free Trade Association.
- BDO’s Brexit Planning Guide. Analysing the tax and legal implications of a range of Brexit possibilities, it’s a must-have resource for any small business confused by the ambiguity and uncertainty of leaving the European Union.
- Let’s Talk Business. UK Finance, the trade body for the UK’s banking and financial services sector, is partnering with numerous business groups to issue guidance for small businesses on how to speak to banks about the additional financial assistance they’ll need as a result of Brexit.
Use these resources, collaborate with financial experts, and employ the right technology to make sure your processes are in good shape. If we don’t know what kind of Brexit is coming, we do know that prepared businesses will be in a better position to deal with it.