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Expert opinion: The one thing businesses can do right now to prepare for Brexit

Written by James Monk on .

James Monk


Brexit is all rather tricky for companies at the moment because they are confused. They just don’t know what to do. They have seen negotiations in full flow, they have seen them stop and now start again this week.

Companies have been marched up the proverbial hill and told that they must get things ready for Brexit and EU transition, but had a number of false dawns. So I am not surprised that firms are confused and don’t know what to do.

However, they can’t sit back and wait. There are certain things that are going to come in on January 1, whether we have a deal or whether we don’t have a deal. 

That’s a given and every company in the UK that is VAT registered will have now received a letter from HMRC.

I know that opening those brown envelopes from HMRC isn’t the most exciting thing to do normally but my plea to companies is just open this one and read it carefully. It sets out what you need to definitely do on January 1. One of the keys parts is relating to customs declarations.

If you are exporting to or importing from the EU, you will have to complete a customs declaration. A lot of companies have been doing this for years. But companies who have only been trading with Europe didn’t have to do them.

From January 1 they will have to complete these customs declarations. In the current chaos and uncertainty, training for this is one of the few things that companies can crack on and do.

Companies need to find a customs entry provider now and sign up with them.

Customs declaration training is needed to give people doing this within a company a basic understanding of how to go about it.

There are some grants available from HMRC where a large number of companies can recoup those costs back (about £280 + VAT).

Yes, time is running out for companies. But this is politics - it is about striking a deal. It is not necessarily helping companies at the moment.

James Monk is director of commercial services at Business West. For more information about trading in Europe post-Brexit, visit