HMRC has announced it is stepping up efforts to ensure businesses are ready to trade post-Brexit as the chances of a no deal continue to increase.
It is automatically enrolling companies in an important customs system and doubling the numbers registered.
More than 88,000 VAT registered companies across the UK are being allocated an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number in order to keep trading with customers and suppliers in the EU after the UK has left.
So far 72,000 companies have already registered for EORI numbers. With Brexit preparations accelerated under the new government, ministers say they are “taking decisive action” to speed up the rollout of the scheme to help ensure the smooth transit of goods.
EORI numbers are a unique ID number allocated to businesses that enables them to be identified by Customs authorities when doing business with other traders.
If businesses do not have an EORI number post-Brexit, they will be unable to continue to trade with EU member states.
Letters informing businesses of automatically allocated EORI numbers are being sent out.
Announcing the move, Chancellor Sajid Javid said: “As the government accelerates its preparation to leave the EU on 31st October it is right businesses are prepared too.
“There can be no time for delay which is why HMRC has allocated thousands of businesses with a trading number to ensure they can continue to trade their goods through Europe from day one.
“This will help ease the flow of goods at border points and support businesses to trade and grow.”
And an extra £2.1bn was also allocated to government departments last month to prepare for no deal.
Getting an EORI number is one of the steps that businesses need to action urgently to be prepared for leaving the EU
After getting an EORI number, businesses will need to decide whether to complete customs declarations themselves, or employ a customs agent to do this.
As part of the extra £2.1bn the government is doubling the support made available for customs agents to train new staff or invest in better IT.
If employing a customs agent, businesses will need to supply their EORI number.
Traders also need to decide whether to apply for Transitional Simplified Procedures to make it easier to import goods from the EU.
If businesses have been issued a UK EORI number by HMRC and then apply online, they will receive a message to say that they already have one.
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