Last week’s developments in London and Brussels have pushed Brexit back into the spotlight. Speaking to the Business Post, Carol said there was a sense of panic last week among businesses on both sides of the border and of the Irish Sea when Brexit returned to the headlines.
“It was like it came as a massive shock for some reason, particularly on the UK side, but it never went away,”
Business owners were still trying to get their heads around the new reality of operating in the pandemic-afflicted world so it was natural that Brexit had slipped to the back of their minds, said Carol, but they could not pretend it was less important.
A recent survey by Ifac, Ireland’s farming, food and agribusiness professional services firm, found that half of their clients who are among the most likely to be immediately affected by Brexit, did not feel prepared. Carol said that while many companies had this feeling, in fact their preparations were well advanced.
“There is a definite sense of being overwhelmed by Brexit after the last six months when everything changed, but many companies put in hard work last year when there were threats of a no-deal Brexit on October 31 and that work continued in the first quarter of this year before Covid-19. It might just have slipped to the back of people’s minds, which is only natural,” said Carol. “That feeling of being overwhelmed won’t have been helped by what happened politically last week.”
Despite the events of the past week, Carol said that, even amid the turmoil, the Irish government’s message had been consistent and supports had been put in place to assist firms in preparing for new customs arrangements.
Speaking to Will Goodbody of RTÉ, Carol provided further insights into some of the key steps that business owners and individuals should be doing now to prepare for 1st January 2021.
As you may now be importing/exporting for the first time, it is essential to draft a Customs Procedure to ensure the correct processes are put in place for Importing and Exporting your goods. For those looking to use someone outside your firm to handle customs procedures, you may find it difficult due to the lack of clearance agents in Ireland, an issue that has been highlighted on numerous occasions. Carol recommends talking with hauliers and freight agents to get someone to act on your behalf.
"Talk with your hauliers, talk with freight agents and try to get someone to act on your behalf to help get goods in and out of the country"
If there is no free trade agreement reached, then tariffs will apply. This is a complicated process as companies need to classify the goods they are importing/exporting, know their origin, and work out the cost of the tariffs.
"That is probably the most complicated part of customs," says Carol.
The six-digit World Trade Organisation code will depend on what sub-category your product falls into and the amount of customs duty that applies then flows from that.
Who is the importer/exporter of record?
According to Carol, it is important that companies talk to their customers and suppliers and figure out who is acting as the importer/exporter of record.
"If you are an Irish company selling into the UK, there is a lot or pressure coming on Irish companies to act as the importer into the UK," says Carol. "Similarly, if you have a supplier selling to you from the UK they need customs clearance, to be registered for VAT, etc if they are acting as the importer."
It is important to get in touch with all those involved and make sure you have it all figured out prior to 1 January.
If you have any queries related to the above, please contact us at [email protected].
Content adapted from RTÉ online and the Business Post.