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Brexit - what it means for your business

Updated: Feb 16

What will happen after 31st January 2020?

From 1st February, the UK will no longer be a member of the EU, and the UK will enter into an implementation period that lasts until 31st December 2020. During this time, there will be no changes to the terms for trading with the EU or the rest of the world, unless the rules change for the whole of the EU.

This means EU rules for customs, VAT and excise will continue to apply to the movement of goods and trade for this limited time. There will be no new customs procedures at present.

rradar tax expert Caroline Lamyman says, “Businesses need to be aware what will change from 31st January 2020 and how leaving the EU will affect them going forward”

What will happen after 31st December 2020?

From 1st January 2021, the way a business trades with the EU will change, and they will need to prepare for life outside the EU, including new customs arrangements. For example, for trade between Great Britain (GB) and the EU, a business will need to make customs declarations to import and export goods once the UK is outside the EU’s customs territory.

HMRC will provide more information and guidance during the implementation period, and as the negotiations progress.

What you need to do now

  • A business needs to keep up to date - register with HMRC for them to provide the business with updates by email.

  • Make sure the business has an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number - a UK EORI number will start with the letters ‘GB’ and will enable a business to submit customs declarations to move goods between GB and the EU after the implementation period ends.

  • If the business already has a UK EORI number starting with ‘GB’ - keep it safe as you will need it when the implementation period ends.

  • If the business does not have a UK EORI number starting with ‘GB’ - register for one at HERE.

  • Decide how to make customs declarations – a business will need to make customs declarations to import and export goods between GB and EU countries once the UK is outside of the EU’s customs territory.

If a business has only ever traded with the EU, or if they already trade with non-EU countries but need to expand or change the processes to cover the GB-EU imports and exports, a business should start to prepare now to make customs declarations, by deciding if they want to use a third party such as a customs agent or make their own declarations.

If a customs agent is used, the business needs to start contacting agents now, to find out about the services they provide. You can find guidance by going to

If a business wants to make their own declarations, HMRC will soon be providing more information and guidance about what will be required including more information about the customs processes for Northern Ireland.

Further service updates Registration and use of Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) for imports from the EU is currently suspended by HMRC. A business will not need to use TSP between February and December 2020. If a business applied for this service, keep the paperwork safe.

In addition, postponed VAT Accounting is currently not available during the implementation period. HMRC will be providing more information soon about the future processes for importing and exporting and what a business will need to do.

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