Posted: Fri 1st Mar 2019
After the government admitted that small firms are not prepared for a no deal Brexit, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has reminded business owners what they need to do in case Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.
Small businesses not prepared for a no deal Brexit
Earlier this week, a government report outlining Britain's latest level of preparedness for a no deal Brexit said: "There is little evidence that businesses are preparing in earnest for a no deal scenario, and evidence indicates that readiness of small and medium-sized enterprises in particular is low."
The first thing that importing and exporting businesses need to do is register for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number. Firms that have only ever traded inside the EU will not have an EORI number.
In the event of a no deal exit, companies won't be able to trade with the EU without such a number.
HMRC has written directly to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses three times to remind them about getting an EORI number, and there are another estimated 95,000 non-VAT registered businesses that also need to take action.
But despite the letters, only 40,973 firms have registered for an EORI number since October, 17% of the businesses that need to do so.
HMRC advised it has the capacity to sign up 11,000 businesses per day for EORI numbers.
Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury said: "We want businesses to be able continue trading with minimal disruption in any scenario but we also know that people tend to leave things until the last minute and we would urge against that.
"We are specifically advising businesses to take some simple steps to be prepared. The first thing they need to do is register for an EORI number. It is free and takes less than 10 minutes."