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The impact of Brexit on small businesses: where to go for advice

Posted 2 years ago in Xero news by Donna Torres
Posted by Donna Torres

The Brexit deal has been signed and the UK has left the EU. Sweeping rule changes came into place overnight, but the small print is still up for debate. Negotiations are ongoing regarding the implementation of several rules, and many procedures may be subject to change in the months ahead. 

This can be daunting for small businesses, but there is plenty of guidance available if you know where to look. In the fourth article in our series on guiding small businesses through Brexit, we’ve created this guide to point you in the right direction.

Government advice

The heart of the government’s advice is the transition section of the Gov.uk website. Get started using the online Brexit Checker, a quick quiz that tells you what’s changing in your industry after you answer a few questions. 

The Brexit deal contains an entire chapter on small businesses, and if you want to get into details, you can review the trade agreement here. In short, small businesses that choose to continue importing and exporting to the EU will need some additional details to fill in the new paperwork, such as an EORI number and commodity code. Businesses will also need to understand the changes to VAT on imports.

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. According to the Brexit deal, businesses now need to pay VAT at the point of sale instead of when they import the goods. This affects products differently, so follow guidance from the government’s Brexit Checker

SMBs may also benefit from postponed VAT accounting, which allows them to pay for imports on their normal VAT return, and a Duty Deferment Account, which allows them to pay import duty (and other duties) monthly instead of every time they import. 

Register for Transitional Simplified Procedures. It’s a new process designed to make importing easier after the UK leaves the EU. Registration is open 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:

  1. The Enterprise Nation Brexit GuideAmong 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.
  2. The Small Business Brexit PackCreated 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. Brexit may mean change, but given the incredible resilience that businesses shown through the past year, it’s clear that this won’t stop them from succeeding. 

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