There’s been a lot of talk about Brexit ever since the UK voted in favour of leaving the EU back in the June 2016 referendum.
In fact, there’s been so much back and forth between the political parties about what kind of Brexit should take place, it wasn’t even clear at times that the UK would end up leaving the EU.
Withdrawal Agreement Backed
Since Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party won a decisive majority in the December 2019 general election on a platform of ‘Get Brexit Done’ the end, at last, looks in sight.
The Brexit Bill (known officially as the EU Withdrawal Agreement) allows the UK to leave the EU with a deal. According to the government’s main Brexit webpage, both the UK and the EU need to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement by 31 January 2020, after which there will be an implementation period until 31 December 2020.
How Can Accounting Firms Help Businesses Prepare?
Although the UK may not be officially leaving the EU quite yet, there is plenty that accounting firms can do to help their clients get ready.
For example, firms can refer their clients to the guidance that has been released by the government and HMRC designed to help traders get ready for Brexit.
Simple Trader Checklist
An easy-to-read pdf, the ‘simple trader checklist to get ready for Brexit’ provides high-level information about a trader’s obligations under the new import and export arrangements post-Brexit.
The government has prepared two versions of the checklist - one tailored for traders in Northern Ireland, and one for the rest of the UK.
Applying for an EORI Number
One recurring theme across the guidance is the need for businesses to have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.
Both dedicated pages on ‘Get your business ready to export from the UK to the EU after Brexit’ and ‘Get your business ready to import from the EU to the UK after Brexit’ reference the need for businesses to have an EORI number that starts with ‘GB’ if that business exports or imports goods to/from the EU and wishes to continue to do so after Brexit.
The government has also released an ‘EORI Mythbuster’ checklist to help traders understand common misconceptions, from applying for an EORI number to understanding which businesses will need one.
For those clients that prefer webinars, HMRC did prepare a series of YouTube videos around the main areas that UK businesses must be aware of to keep trading goods when the UK leaves the EU. This includes applying for an EORI number, preparing to make customs declarations, and understanding transitional simplified procedures.
Although it’s worth noting that these videos were initially released when no deal was still a possibility, some of the content within the videos may be helpful for traders looking to understand more about their obligations post-Brexit.
Although Brexit finally looks to be moving forward, both accounting firms and their clients need to stay on top of the latest Brexit developments to understand any changes that may arise, including during the implementation period.
As a result, it’s worthwhile signing up for Brexit alerts, and encouraging clients to do the same. You can sign up for government email alerts about Brexit at the following link: