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Custom experts advise businesses not to be complacent about Brexit 'flextension'

Posted on Wednesday, November 13th by

The decision to organize a general election on the 12th of December proves the state of uncertainty that UK faces at the moment is unlikely to change. 

TheCustomsPeople.co.uk has warned that businesses in Britain that handle import and export of goods with the European Union should not take the recent further Brexit ‘flextension' as an excuse to slow the preparations down.

The UK’s leading independent customs expert, David Miller, co-founder of The Customs People, has expressed his worries about pushing Brexit preparations until the last minute as a result of the additional three-month window of opportunity, and he is advising people to think about the potential consequences that could come about as a result of the additional 90 days.

It seems most likely that by 31st January 2020, the UK will leave the EU after the parliament  will agree a withdrawal agreement. This would bring a ‘transition period’ where all customs and VAT measures currently in place continue until the transition period ends. This would run until at least 31st December 2020, but likely longer while the UK and EU develop a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The deadline for businesses to prepare for Brexit  would be 2021. Although under an FTA there should not be any duty on UK-EU trade, the administrative processes involved will change, therefore requiring some planning from those businesses engaged in this activity.

Another situation that businesses should take in consideration ,as David warned,  would be leaving EU on 31st January 2020 without a deal.David says: “The most sensible thing to do in the current uncertain climate would be to tackle all eventualities head on – this means preparing for a no-deal Brexit, no matter how unlikely it seems.”

British companies will need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number to import and export goods in the EU after Brexit and the government estimates that approximately 250,000 British firms require them. However, just 71,000 registrations had been completed by mid-August, forcing the government to introduce auto-enrolment to ensure that companies were registered in time.

David recommends businesses to prepare even for a no-deal scenario, which means to get an EORI number and apply for Transitional Simplified Procedures, a project introduced by the government earlier this year.

TSP is free and will allow goods to pass through customs more quickly when Brexit takes place, but it takes at least two weeks for the government to process applications, so businesses are advised to put everything in order before the Brexit deadline.

David says that another eventuality to prepare for would be that Brexit is further delayed because neither of the above options are passed, or because the result of the general election provides a political result where a second referendum is held.He added: “The additional 90-day period gives businesses a final chance to ensure they have solid plans in place for every possible outcome of 31st January 2020. It is vital that preparations are made to avoid being paralysed by costly delays.”


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