How does a business prepare for Brexit?

How does a business prepare for Brexit?

Now is the time! How many times have we heard that?

Is it true, or another cry of wolf for British traders who, I am sure are still questioning themselves as to whether they should be doing something or continuing to wait until the dust clears?

Do not be misled by taking the latter option, now is not the time to prevaricate, the time for action is here!


A lot of questions, press activity, rumours and opinions – which to listen to, where to go for sound practical advice? What do you need to know? What do you need to do? Do not panic Mr. Briton, we can do this!

So, what ARE businesses doing to prepare for Brexit?

If you trade overseas other than Europe you will already have the skills to export, if you have only ever sold to and from Europe then it is a different story.  Thankfully, EORI numbers have been issued to those traders who had not appreciated the need for such so it seems we are on the way at least. However, sole traders or individuals must still apply via:

EORI numbers are used in the process of customs entry declarations and customs clearance for both imports and exports shipments travelling to or from the EU and countries outside the EU. 

Then there is the need for export documents – a whole raft of them that might be applicable to your company, all of which may be unfamiliar, some of which could be a veritable minefield.  This is where our county Chambers are so very useful. Many of them offer training courses covering the basics – and even include a certificate if you complete 6 of them! Up to NVQ level they provide an overview and a generic look at exporting and importing and the rules that surround trading overseas in whatever direction.  Then for those companies that want to increase theie knowledge there is of course the Institute of Export offering courses and qualifications right up to Masters level.  So, training is available from regionally through to nationally, that is not an issue although to be fair the qualifications do take time to acquire.

Day 1 post Brexit is not the day to start looking at this!

As a new exporter you will need to be aware that there are significant fines for non-compliance our advice is always – get it right first time.  Day 1 post Brexit is not the day to start looking at this as HMRC can – and will – choose to make spot checks on companies.

We are on a short deadline for being able to send our goods to and buy our goods from Europe so you will need to do something for sure.

So, what can be done in house?

We suggest that you take stock of where you are on a scale of Beginner, Improver or Ambitious. Match that against your resource and ability. Be brutally honest with yourself ;

  • Do you know how your supply chain will operate within Europe?
  • Are you in the middle of a supply chain or do you buy and sell direct to one company, or to a number?
  • Do you have agreements with freight forwarders?
  • Do you have a document retention policy?
  • Do you regularly check your tariff numbers (or even know them)?
  • Are you absolutely sure of the origin of your products?
  • Do you understand preference, Incoterms?
  • Do you have contracts for international sales?

All valid questions, so how will you answer? Know your starting point by self-checking against these questions or get an expert to undertake an audit, that way you will know what needs to be done to begin to prepare for Brexit.

If you are an experienced exporter, ask yourself;

  • Do I need AEO or AE to drive my business forward?
  • Do I need a new strategy to expand my sales and markets?
  • Is my CCG and deferment account set up?
  • Am I keeping abreast of the new documents that are starting to appear?
  • Are my distributors or agents primed to the changes?
  • Do I need to get licences or check for denied access?
  • At a basic level – are you prepared for the immediate and long term future of your business?

So many questions, all to be answered differently according to your business aims and ambitions.

It would be naïve for anyone to think that Brexit will not affect them, it will touch each and every one of us.

Knowing where you stand and more importantly who can help is vital. Our advice is definitely to invest in some training, check your capability, capacity and competency to export and identify those that can help.  Do not ever be under the misapprehension that exporting and/or importing is simple.  It is, but only once you know the rules!

Get in touch with an International Trade Matters specialist today to kickstart your journey and prepare for Brexit

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