The government is going full steam ahead with its new Brexit information campaign, ‘The UK’s new start: let’s get going”. Its initiative clearly sets out the actions businesses and individuals needs to take to prepare for the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 and encourage people to seize the opportunities it will bring.
A key feature is the ‘Check, Change and Go” strapline which directs people and businesses to an online checker tool at gov.uk/transition which identifies the necessary next steps they should take.
Also planned is a ‘field force team’ for one-to-one support over the phone for businesses and their supply chains to minimise disruption to the movement of goods.
Brexit talks in Brussels continue to be difficult with two issues – fishing rights and state subsidies – being the main sticking points. The EU remains adamant that it will not allow the UK tariff-and-quota-free access to the EU market unless it signs up to ‘level playing field’ principles to minimise the risk of Britain undercutting the EU on environmental regulations, workers’ rights and state aid to business.
Regardless of the outcome, the government is urging people and businesses take the necessary action to prepare, based on their circumstances. Steps include:
- Applying for a GB EORI number or registering with the relevant Customs Authority to ensure your business is ready to export or import from/to the EU. All VAT-registered businesses which trade with the EU should have received an automatic enrolment from HMRC last year and EORI number.
- Applying for a duty deferment account if your business imports goods regularly. This enables customs charges including customs duty, excise duty and import VAT to be paid once a month through Direct Debit instead of being paid on individual consignments. VAT-registered traders can instead account for import VAT on their VAT return using postponed VAT accounting.
- Making sure you know all about import tariffs. The ‘Trade with the UK’ tool provides information on tariffs, taxes and rules for those currently being applied until 1 January 2021. To check the tariffs that will apply to goods imported from 1 January 2021 use the ‘UK Global Tariff’ tool. If you export goods from the UK market, the ‘Check How to Export goods’ tool provides information on duties and customs for over 160 countries. All tools can be found on the gov.uk website.
- Making sure you are ready to travel to Europe from 1 January 2021, for example by getting comprehensive travel insurance, ensuring your passport is valid, and checking your roaming policy with your mobile phone provider.
A survey of company directors by the lobby group the Institute of Directors in June said only a quarter were fully ready for the end of the transition period.
With the UK’s full departure from the EU looming, businesses should take steps to ensure they are up to date with the current government guidance and advice.