Urgent need for businesses to get to grips with the new customs rules

With Brexit on the horizon, Irish businesses need to act now in order to prepare for trading with the UK post 31st December 2020.

BDO has been assisting businesses to ensure that they are ready for the new customs procedures that come into effect on 1st January through the Local Enterprise Office “Prepare your Business for Customs” workshops. The BDO Customs & International Trade team has already delivered over 67 “Prepare your Business for Customs” workshops, on behalf of the Local Enterprise Offices, to Irish SMEs this year. With Brexit on the horizon, the one-day interactive workshops provide businesses with a better understanding of the potential impacts, formalities and procedures to be adopted when trading with a country which is outside the Single Market and Custom Unions. The workshops cover areas such as; what export and import procedures apply, how tariffs work and how to correctly classify goods.

Carol Lynch, Partner, BDO Customs and International Trade (CITS), recently featured in the Irish Examiner to discuss the workshops and outline  the steps that businesses need to prioritise in order to prepare for trading with the UK post 31st December 2020.  Read Carol’s full extract below:

Carol Lynch, Partner at BDO Customs & International Trade Services in Ireland, and a member of the BDO Brexit Taskforce, is in no doubt about the urgent need for businesses to get to grips with the new customs rules.

“The UK has left the European Union, and we’re now in transition until January 1st, 2021,” says Carol. “It’s important that businesses use this time wisely in order to prepare for trading with the UK in 2021. Ultimately, trading with the UK will be like trading with any other non-EU country, so if you haven’t traded outside the EU before, it’s essential that you know what to expect and make any preparations necessary to deal with the changes.”

Essentially, customs is another tax, complete with forms and payments, but with the UK being a part of the EU for so long, it is something that many businesses and individuals won’t be familiar with.

“The first step for everybody is to start learning about customs rules and regulations,” advises Carol. According to Revenue, the biggest single reason that goods are stopped at border crossings is due to data errors – so it is imperative that the person filling out the forms is experienced and well trained.

“It’s a very difficult process. There are two essential streams of information that you are including on the form – the first is in relation to customs and tax, with the second relating to the freight and movement of goods.”

No matter what type of industry a business is in, everyone will experience some form of impact from Brexit. Some of the issues that will be faced from a Customs and Trade perspective are: customs duty; import VAT; border delays; additional costs e.g. clearance agents; additional documentation e.g. import and export documentation; and new procedures e.g. how and when to lodge import and export SADs, etc; and new licenses.

Taking away the fear factor

“Depending on the industry in which the company is involved in their issues may also be slightly different,” Carol adds. “For example, the food industry will have customs duty and border delays high on their agenda, the construction industry will have border delays high on their agenda, while textiles would be impacted by high duty rates primarily and IT may have to consider export controls.”

Not only does each industry experience each issue differently, but each company within the industries will be affected differently.

Carol underlines the benefits of undertaking workshops and training in customs: “Everyone should do some customs training. There are different levels; the Skillnet course is detailed training on how to fill out the form yourself, while Local Enterprise Offices are providing one day training courses on what customs is all about.

"Enterprise Ireland’s own customs insights course is available on Prepare for Brexit, while the Revenue and Enterprise Ireland customs webinar can be viewed onsite also. This is more than enough for most companies who will be employing an agent. And then Bord Bia is offering specific customs training for food and agri clients. I would urge anyone to avail of the training – it’s free and it’ll take the fear factor away.”

Content adapted from The Irish Examiner

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