All VAT registered companies to receive customs number ahead of no-deal Brexit
All VAT registered companies in the UK will be automatically allocated a customs number to prepare for no-deal Brexit.
This customs system, using the newly named the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, will allow UK firms to continue to trade with EU member states after the UK has completed the Brexit process. Firms without an EORI number will not be permitted to trade with EU member states after Brexit.
The government was urged to act by business trade groups after many companies have failed to register themselves for the system.
The CBI said this was “a sensible move” but “one of hundreds of things that needed to be done” in a no-deal event.
72,000 companies had already registered for an EORI number, yet the government said its auto-enrolment programme would ensure 88,000 more companies would be registered. HMRC said all VAT-registered firms in the UK which had not previously signed up to the customs system would be allocated an ID number within the next two weeks.
Chancellor Sajid Javid said this would help “ease the flow of goods at border points and support businesses to trade and grow”.
CBI head of EU negotiations, Nicole Sykes, has said that auto-enrolment would reduce the potential for lorries to arrive at ports without one of the necessary pieces of paperwork.
She added: “But the web of short and long-term consequences of no deal go well beyond this, which are both complex and damaging. That’s why the government must put just as much time and effort into securing a deal.”
Director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), Dr Adam Marshall, said auto-enrolment was “long overdue” but still only “a first step”.
He added: “For many firms, it will trigger more questions. Businesses still need clarity on many other cross-border trade issues, such as customs procedures at borders following a no-deal exit and when the government will launch an official database to provide ease of access to information on tariffs and quotas.”
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it will allocate £9 million to councils to help ensure they are equipped to deal with any issues at ports.
Due to the pressures it faces around the Port of Dover, Kent Council will receive over £2.6m.