Brexit: Urgent action required for trading with the EU

Brexit sign and Union Jack dominoes set to fall

An important Brexit update for those who trade with the EU was released this week. The HMRC letter deals with urgent preparations UK businesses need to take in order to continue trading in the event of a ‘no deal’.

It also includes the new postponed accounting arrangements for the payment of VAT on EU imports after 29 March in the event of a ‘no deal’.

Most UK businesses that trade with the EU will have received the letter from HM Revenue & Customs. The changes also affect businesses trading with non-EU countries.

Read HMRC’s latest notice and review the letter here: Letters on no-deal Brexit advice for businesses trading with the EU and/or the rest of the world.

The letter explains actions to take now to prepare for changes to customs and VAT procedures if there is no deal. It includes information on:

  • customs declarations
  • import procedures
  • customs facilitations
  • moving goods using Common Transit Convention (CTC)
  • export declarations
  • changes to accounting for VAT
  • VAT registration checks
  • VAT refunds.

As we’ve noted in our own Brexit guide for customers, one of the key actions for international traders to prepare for a no-deal Brexit is to apply for an Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI) number. You will need this number to continue trading with the EU.

EORI numbers – what you need to know

  • Any business that already trades with non-EU countries and has a UK EORI number will continue to be able to use this for UK-EU trade and does not need to apply again.
  • UK EORI numbers are 12-digit numbers and begin with the prefix ‘GB’, such as
  • Any business that already trades with non-EU countries and has an EU EORI number will be able to use this for UK-EU trade for a temporary period; HMRC will provide further information about moving to a UK EORI number shortly and these businesses do not need to apply for a UK EORI number at this time.
  • EU EORI numbers will be begin with different country prefix, such as ‘IE’ or ‘FR’.

Read the latest HMRC guidance on EORI numbers here.

Postponed VAT accounting arrangements

In February we wrote about new transitional simplified importing procedures (TSP) should there be a ‘no deal’, which postpones import duties. This latest letter contains further detail on using TSP.

From 29 March if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it will also be possible to use VAT postponed accounting, not just when importing from the EU – as most EU-UK importers already do – but when you import from the rest of the world.

You will be able to declare and recover import VAT on the same VAT return. To do this you will need to provide your VAT registration number on your customs declaration. This may affect your VAT processes so it is wise to take advice from your tax agent as soon as possible.

Government Brexit tools and guides

A online tool is also available to help you with Brexit preparations. Prepare your business for the UK leaving the EU is a tool that asks seven questions about the nature of your business before presenting relevant guidance.

If you trade with the EU, or support such a business, further help and guidance is available on the Communications resources page, including:

  • step-by-step preparations for UK importers and exporters
  • latest guidance on key areas, such as how to successfully complete customs declarations and how to move goods to the EU through roll on, roll off ports
  • links to the technical notices published in August last year
  • copies of the latest letters issued to UK traders to inform their EU Exit preparations.

Ask us!

If you have any further enquiries or require a quote, please contact us at

You can also read more on our customs clearance services page. And check out our Brexit guide for customers.

Image: (CC) Daniel_diaz_bardillo/Pixabay


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