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Are you Brexit-ready? Use this guide to help you prepare

6-minute read

Jessie Day

9 January 2020

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If you're wondering how to prepare your business for Brexit, our guide is designed to get your business Brexit-ready for 31 January 2020.

Whether you’re a florist importing flowers from Holland, an accountant with data transfer activities in Germany, or a plumbing business which employs people from across the European Union (EU), you need to prepare for Brexit.

Our guide has been written with support from The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Brexit impact on business: which industries will be affected?

For many businesses, there won’t be much to do. Staying on top of the headlines and checking for relevant updates will do the job, and you should use the government’s Brexit checklist just to be sure. Get started by clicking on their check how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit link.

But Brexit will create big changes for certain businesses, particularly if you:

  • import/export goods or services to the EU
  • travel to the EU (and/or work there)
  • are from the EU but living/working in the UK

If you fall into any of these categories, think your business might be affected by Brexit, or simply aren’t sure and want definitive answers, our small business guide to Brexit is below.

Brexit and business checklist: start here

Whatever your situation, start with the government’s Brexit checklist above. You’ll answer a set of questions, building up a personalised action plan to prepare you, your family and your business for Brexit.

Your action plan might include some guidance that doesn’t look relevant to you and your business. We recommend you do check everything though, and use the links on your plan and the rest of this article to get more help, if you need it.

What else?

Below the checker, you’ll see lots of clear, official guidance. So once you’ve created your specific plan, this is the page to bookmark and refer back to. From preparing your business and visiting the EU to citizen rights and arrangements, it’s all here.

Brexit prep tip: stay up-to-date. The world of Brexit is changing minute-to-minute, so in these crucial weeks we recommend a regular check on the official Brexit guidance page and signing up for alerts so you're one step ahead.

Deal or no-deal, you need to be ready

Your checker results will give you lots of guidance on where to go next and what action to take. But if you’re planning ahead, these are good places to start:

Buying, selling and moving goods

Travelling and living

There’s an important distinction between services (such as digital services) and goods (such as food and drink) when it comes to Brexit. Be clear on what your business does when following the guidance, and use the resources at the end of this article to get help, if you need it.

Brexit prep tip: don’t hedge your bets. Whether there’s a deal or not, the current word from the government is that the UK will leave the EU on 31 January. Getting ready now, even if it’s just a precaution, makes the best business sense.

The government is reporting here on its no-deal readiness.

The main Brexit issues for UK businesses

gov.uk has highlighted lots of considerations for UK businesses ahead of Brexit. They won’t apply to everyone, but take a look through the sections below and click through if any look relevant to you.

Brexit prep tip: it’s pretty specific, but we’d also recommend checking your intellectual property (IP) rights and parallel trade actions, if you own or trade in these. All the information is here on gov.uk.

1. Selling services to the EU (and Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein)

2. Exporting to the EU (and transporting by road)

  • does your business have a GB Economic Operator Registration & Identification (EORI) number? You’ll need to check your importer has an EU one too, or if you’re exporting to your own business within the EU. Without these, you may not be able to trade
  • who will deal with customs? Whether you’re hiring someone or doing it yourself, prepare now
  • look into the Common Transit Convention (CTC) – it could simplify how you export your goods
  • make your checks on the tax/duty your importer will need to pay, and any special licenses or actions for your goods type
  • read up on how to claim a VAT refund

Will you be driving your goods? You can hire someone, or do it yourself.

3. Importing from the EU

  • you’ll need an EORI number to continue importing goods
  • dealing with customs – you can hire someone or do it yourself
  • registering for ‘transitional simplified procedures’, along with the CTC (see exporting above) might ease your paperwork
  • make your checks on the tax/duty you’ll need to pay, and any special licenses or actions for your goods type

Do you import regularly? Setting up a duty deferment account might be useful. It allows you to make one customs duties payment a month, instead of making individual payments.

4. Trading and moving between Northern Ireland and Ireland

If your business activities involve Ireland or Northern Ireland, it’s worth working through gov.uk’s hub page and creating a specific plan of action.

5. Visiting the EU

If you’re travelling for business, you’ll need to increase your usual preparations. This will include double-checking your passport and what it allows you to do, organising the proper healthcare insurance, and checking things like driving documents.

All the official guidance is listed on gov.uk’s visiting Europe hub page.

6. Living and working in the EU

Read the general information for UK nationals living or working more permanently in the EU, or head to gov.uk’s countries list for specific guidance.

7. Staying in the UK if you’re from the EU

If you’re an EU citizen, your best plan is to start with gov.uk’s staying in the UK hub page. Most people will need to apply to stay in the UK.

From Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland? You can also use the staying in the UK hub page.

Driving after Brexit (in the UK and abroad)

From trailer arrangements to Kent road disruption, here’s our Brexit driving mini round-up.

Will you be driving in Kent?

You might have seen updates from the government on Operation Brock, and plans to keep traffic moving in and out of the UK around 31 October (the previous Brexit deadline).

Operation Brock is currently inactive, but the situation is under review and could change at any time. For up-to-the-minute official guidance, keep an eye on Highways England's Operation Brock page.

Your best bet is to plan for road disruption around 31 January. If you’re a haulier, check our guidance below and if just driving in the area, leave plenty of time and watch out for traffic updates.

Brexit prep tip: the M20, Dover Port roads, Eurotunnel, A20 Dover TAP and M26 are likely to be affected, along with their feeder and slip roads.

Do you drive a goods vehicle, or carry out haulage?

There’s lots of of guidance and essential Brexit preparation for professional goods drivers and haulage companies. Head to gov.uk’s guidance page to get started and the special page for haulage information.

Do you use a trailer abroad?

Check your apparatus, prepare for delays and confirm what applies to you, particularly around your ‘green card’ responsibilities.

EU/EEA phone calls and texts

The rules and practices around your business communications could be changing. To avoid any nasty surprises, or phone bills, check with your provider and read through gov.uk’s guidance.

Brexit helpline and resources

Brexit is complex, and almost every business will have questions, from the most basic to highly niche and specific.

Brexit helpline

This is the gov.uk official Business Brexit helpline and the first place to go. Call 0300 2000 900 Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm.

Brexit checklist

Build and bookmark your own Brexit action plan, using gov.uk’s checklist.

Quick-check services

There are a number of online tools you can use to check your action plan ahead of Brexit. From applying to the EU Settlement Scheme to driving and declaring cash amounts, speed-up your research.

News and updates

One of the best things you can do is to keep on top of Brexit, and any gov.uk Brexit updates relating to your business (they’re listed in date order). Sign up for alerts by email (you can choose how many you get), too.

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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