Registering for an EORI number is just the first step to prepare for Brexit

In order to continue to trade with the EU after Brexit, Chartered Accountants Ireland is urging Northern Ireland businesses to do two things; register for an EORI number and assess whether or not they have gaps in customs knowledge that could prevent them from trading with the EU post Brexit.

While customs knowledge is critical, obtaining a customs registration or an EORI number is the first step that businesses must take to be able to continue to trade with the EU after Brexit.

Richard Gillan, Chairman of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society said:

“Without an EORI number, Northern Ireland businesses will not be able to trade with the EU after Brexit. Getting an EORI number takes five minutes online with HMRC and while it should be the starting point in terms of their plans it should be by no means the only thing they should do. Businesses need to look at customs software, get familiar with customs returns and think about who will do the customs administration for trade with the EU.

“Regardless of whether customs duties apply, in order to move goods between the UK and the EU, traders will need to have customs expertise and third party software to file these declarations with the HMRC; otherwise they will need to hire an agent such as a broker or freight forwarder to do this on their behalf.

“No matter what form Brexit will take, traders need to file customs returns with HMRC before they can trade goods with the EU. The returns need to be completed correctly; otherwise goods could be detained at ports and borders because HMRC officials will need to check that the proper declarations are in place.”

After Brexit, UK businesses will need to apply the same processes to EU trade that apply when trading with the rest of the world and HMRC estimate that customs declarations are expected to increase fivefold to over 250 million declarations per year once the UK leaves the EU.

Richard Gillan said:

“Businesses need to be proactive in their preparations to be able to complete paperwork. While some traders are experienced in the customs formalities required to import and export to the rest of the world, it will be a first for many other businesses, particularly the smaller enterprises. We are urging these businesses to use the time between now and 31 October to upskill in the area of customs. ”

Regardless of the form Brexit will take, businesses must do the following to prepare and they must do that now:
1. Register online with HMRC for an EORI number – it takes a few minutes to apply and a number should issue immediately or within 3 working days if checks are needed

2. Become familiar with the new customs administration. Decide whether you will do the customs administration yourself or whether you need to hire a customs agent.