HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has written to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses trading with the EU to inform them about Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSPs) for customs, should the UK leave the EU without a deal.

These procedures will make importing easier for an initial period of one year to allow businesses time to prepare for usual import processes.

Once businesses are registered for TSP, they will be able to transport goods from the EU into the UK without having to make a full customs declaration at the border and will be able to postpone paying any import duties.

If tariffs apply to the goods that they import, and they want to use TSPs, they will need to defer paying any import duties by setting up a direct debit.

“HMRC is helping businesses get prepared and, among other significant communications, has written three times to affected businesses, each time stepping up the advice and encouraging them to take action,” Treasury Minister Mel Stride explained.

HMRC is also reminding businesses to get an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number if they do not already have one.

This number is crucial to be able to trade after Brexit if the UK leaves without a deal. It is free and takes 10 minutes to register online here.

To be able to register for TSP businesses must have an EORI number, be established in the UK and import goods from the EU into the UK.

The Treasury has promised to consult with businesses and give them at least a 12-month notice period before withdrawing the easements in TSP and applying the usual customs processes to imports from the EU. This aims to give businesses enough time to prepare.

However, the Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association (RHA), Richard Burnett, criticised the latest HMRC move.

“This is just one part of the Brexit jigsaw,” he said. “The French have still not defined their export process. How on earth can businesses make the necessary arrangements and plan for the future when they are still in the dark as to how the processes on both sides of the Channel will work?”

Last reviewed 11 February 2019