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HMRC accelerates Brexit preparations for import/export businesses

Robert Marchant, Partner, VAT
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Measures to facilitate trade with EU Member States

In news that is likely to be welcomed by many, HMRC has announced that it is stepping up efforts to ensure businesses are ready to trade post-Brexit by automatically allocating UK VAT registered businesses with an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

An EORI number is a unique ID number allocated to businesses that enables them to be identified by customs authorities when doing business with other traders. In effect, it is required for businesses to import and export goods to/from the UK. Prior to Brexit, businesses that only trade within the EU will not have needed an EORI number but it will become required if and when the UK leaves the EU Customs Union.

To date, government figures show that only 72,000 companies have registered for an EORI number. It is expected that more than 88,000 VAT registered companies across the UK will be allocated an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number in the next few weeks.

What action should businesses take?

Having an EORI number does not give rise to any additional costs to meet compliance requirements for businesses. This means businesses do not need to take any action if they have received an EORI which they will not use. Businesses that are not currently UK VAT registered will not be covered by the action HMRC is taking and so will still need to apply for an EORI.

Other actions to get businesses Brexit-ready

With Brexit preparations accelerated under the new government, it is positive that ministers are taking decisive action to speed up the rollout of the scheme to help ensure the smooth transit of goods. There are though many other actions businesses may wish to take as part of their Brexit preparations.

As well as the EORI, those involved in EU trade may want to obtain a Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) registration, which is a simplification recently announced by HMRC. A TSP  is intended to make it easier to import goods into the UK from the EU by reducing the amount of information that is given at the time of goods being imported into the UK, and deferring the time when the import declaration is made and duty paid.

For more information, read our top 10 practical actions that businesses can take as part of their Brexit preparation.

Contact us

Robert Marchant
Robert Marchant
Partner, VAT and Customs Duty services