Amid concerns that low number of applications for Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers would leave many firms unready for a no-deal Brexit later this year, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is to introduce auto-enrolment for VAT-registered companies.

EORI numbers will be needed so that firms can continue to import or export goods to the EU or rest of the world in a no deal situation and will enable traders to apply for authorisations that will make customs processes easier.

HMRC has now written to more than 88,000 VAT-registered companies to confirm that they have been allocated a UK EORI number.

The move has been welcomed by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) which was one of the organisations warning about low take-up and calling for Government action.

However, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett has warned that here is still much more to do as firms still do not have the clarity they need to fully prepare for no deal.

“This is a long overdue move that will keep UK businesses trading with customers and suppliers in the EU — but it’s only the beginning of the process,” he said. “Traders still aren’t getting the information and support they need to tackle the customs formalities they’ll be facing after Brexit.”

The Government has also moved on another issue raised by groups such as the RHA with whom it has been liaising on Brexit preparations — the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

Organisations working with the Government on Brexit will no longer be routinely required to sign these legally binding contracts to maintain confidentiality, the Cabinet Office has announced.

It was reacting to complaints from a number of trade bodies that the NDAs made it difficult to properly tell their members how to prepare for Brexit. Such agreements will now only be entered into, or existing agreements maintained, when this is strictly necessary, including for example to protect the interests of third parties.

Last reviewed 3 September 2019