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HMRC have published customs, VAT and Excise guidance for businesses

HMRC have published customs

This week has seen HMRC publish various guidelines and recommendations to help businesses prepare for a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

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HMRC have written to businesses that only trade in the EU and are registered with HMRC for VAT purposes setting out three specific preparatory actions they should take now in case of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. They have also published a range of related guidance and opened up a grant scheme to help support training and IT improvements for customs intermediaries and traders that complete customs declarations. Whilst HMRC consider that it is unlikely the Brexit negotiations will result in ‘no deal’ they are urging business to make the recommended contingency plans.

Letters on ‘no deal’ Brexit advice for businesses only trading with the EU

HMRC have written to all businesses that only trade in the EU and are registered with HMRC for VAT purposes to ask them to take the following three actions now:

  • Register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number;
  • Decide whether they will use a customs agent to make import and/or export declarations or will make the declarations themselves using specialist software; and 
  • Contact the organisation that moves their goods (for example, a haulage firm) to find out if they will need to supply additional information to complete safety and security declarations, or whether they will need to submit these declarations themselves.

Other guidance on Customs, VAT and Excise

In addition to publishing the above letter, HMRC have also published (or updated) a number of other related documents. These are collected together on one page and provide further detail on obtaining an EORI number, customs procedures and declarations, and the movement of goods through roll-on/ roll-off ports and the Eurotunnel.

HMRC have also published a summary of the relevant ‘no deal’ regulations, explanatory memoranda and an impact assessment which sets out the implications of a no deal Brexit on the movement of goods.

‘No deal’ preparedness grant schemes

Finally, HMRC have now opened up the application of grant schemes to help support training and IT improvements for customs intermediaries and traders that complete customs declarations. Eligible businesses may apply for one of two grants, with funding available for:

  • Training that helps employees to complete customs declarations and processes; and 
  • IT improvements to help businesses complete customs declarations more efficiently (available to SMEs only). 

What does this mean for business?

The news is undoubtedly moving at a very fast pace and it is impossible to predict where the Brexit negotiations will land. Despite the clear wish of Government that a Brexit deal is agreed, we believe it would be imprudent to abandon ‘no deal’ planning at this stage – whilst the chances of a ‘no deal’ may fluctuate by the day (if not by the hour), the impact of ‘no deal’ remains just as high. These publications by HMRC re-emphasise the importance of being prepared for all eventualities.

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