For many businesses, large and small, the hard work starts now, as the Brexit transition period offers a limited time for preparation.
Businesses that export or import between the UK and the EU must ready themselves for change. While conditions after 31 December 2020 as yet remain unclear, there are still actions companies can, and should, take.
Geoff Taylor, Managing Director of AEB, specialists in cross-border supply chain software, reiterates the importance of this period, “The government has extended the deadline for customs support funding, which includes IT support and training. It is, therefore, a window of opportunity.”
The UK government sent 220,000 letters to VAT-registered businesses in the UK and Northern Ireland at the end of January.
This information is also available on the Government’s website. It highlights the importance for businesses to keep up to date with developments, to ensure they have their EORI numbers, and to decide how to make customs declarations for trading with EU countries.
EORI is the Economic Operator Registration and Identification number.
Before Brexit, this applied to any UK company involved in the import or export of commercial goods to countries outside the EU.
Now, UK companies trading overseas will also need this for trade with countries inside the EU.
Once the UK is outside the EU customs territory, companies will also need to make customs declarations.
They can either do this themselves, or via a third-party customs agents.
Terms of Trade and the Transition Period
At present, there are no changes between the UK and EU when it comes to terms of trade, but this situation will change on 31 December 2020.
This gives UK firms the perfect opportunity to prepare for what changes they know will occur, even if a final trade deal is still up for negotiation.
When the transition period ends, whatever form of agreement, or even if there is no agreement, will then determine the trading relationship between the UK and the EU.
Funding for Customs Support
The Government offers funding support for businesses needing to make changes in preparation for the new customs regulations outside the EU.
This includes support for recruitment and improved IT capability.
“The money can fund both IT upgrades and essential training courses,” Geoff Taylor points out. “This can help traders become fully prepared for making customs declarations.”
Why IT and Software are Vital to Customs
Modern customs management is digital, and there are specialist software solutions which can help UK businesses prepare for overseas trade during the transition period.
“It’s time to get your systems ready for change. The key to successful global trade is supply chain flexibility, and the right software can make your business that much more agile.”
Specialist software solutions for customs and trade include automated import and export declarations, customs broker integration; export control compliance; product classification including customs code assignments, and more.
“We don’t know yet what the final outcome for UK and EU trading conditions will be, but it is important to look at the things that are within our power to control. This includes automating cross-border processes.”
The Brexit transition period offers a valuable breathing space to prepare for whatever is coming.
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