Time has ‘almost run out’ to prepare for Brexit transition on January 1, Business West warns

November 13, 2020

Swindon firms trading in Europe have been told that it is ‘almost too late’ if they have not planned for a worst case scenario following the end of the Brexit transition on January 1.

The 50-day countdown to that date was on Wednesday and Business West, the region’s largest business organisation, fears many firms are fast running out of time to prepare for the major changes in the way they move their products – resulting in them facing delays and extra costs. 

With the UK-EU negotiations yet to reach a conclusion – and the Prime Minister claiming “significant differences” remain – Business West says firms must act now to prepare for a possible period of uncertainty whatever the outcome.

Business West director of commercial services James Monk, pictured below, warned: “If businesses have not prepared for the worst case scenario, then it is almost too late, and I would suggest firms get up to speed immediately by visiting our Trading through Brexit hub to receive regular updates and advice.”

Firms that previously only traded with the EU will need to complete customs declarations in January and Business West will be delivering training to highlight what companies need to know to complete them correctly.

Companies can also register for the ChamberCustoms service, which aims to take the hassle away from importers and exporters and ensure that customs clearance is accurate, timely and avoids costs through delays or errors. 

From January 1 businesses will need an EORI number that starts with GB to move goods to or from the UK. Most businesses should have now received this, but if they haven’t there is a wealth of information on the HMRC website to obtain this.

Businesses will need to consider whether they need to register for VAT for the countries they want to trade with and be aware of how other legislation may change.

Business West can give businesses information on the types of documents available, how they are used and where to get them. But firms must check what they need with their importing agent or customer.

James Monk added: “While the possible extension on discussions may indicate we are one step closer to a deal, businesses must remember to take action now to get ready for January 1.

“Whatever the outcome, Business West is ready to support companies through the next few challenging months, with the pandemic presenting further hurdles.”

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