Many businesses have adopted a wait and see approach over the last two years during the Brexit negotiations. But as 29 March approaches and political uncertainty continues, UK businesses are having to face the prospect and consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

What steps should you take if you import or export from or to the EU?

  • Get an EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number.
    An EORI number will allow you to:
    - trade goods into and out of the EU
    - submit declarations using software
    - apply to be authorised for other customs simplification procedures

    If you apply now you should get a number well before 29 March - the application takes just a few minutes to complete.
  • If you import through roll on/roll off locations, register online for TSP (Transitional Simplified Procedures).
    You will need your EORI number first. TSP allow importers to defer giving a full declaration until after the goods have crossed the border, and paying duty until the month after import.
  • Check your supply chain and contracts, including Incoterms.
    Who pays duties and what is the VAT position if we leave the Single Market without a deal under your contracts? A no deal will also potentially affect trade with third countries outside the EU which rely on EU trade agreements.
  • Consider your employees' status.
    Make sure any existing employees whose residence in the UK will be affected by Brexit know what they need to do to remain in the UK (for instance whether they need to apply for Settled Status). Also consider whether any new hires starting after 29 March are EEA nationals unable to remain in the UK on a long-term basis in the event of no deal.
  • Keep updated.
    Government is now regularly publishing updates via and there are many business organisations supporting their members. Chambers of Commerce are an excellent source of practical advice.
  • Consider using a Shipping Agent.
    Especially in complex cases, they may be able to help you get up to speed fast with changes, and also other possible variations in process between EU countries with whom you trade.

Applying for EORI numbers and TSP registration should be quick and simple. Checking contracts and your employees' situations may be more complex and you may want to consider legal advice.

If there is a deal, everything will stay as it currently is until at least 1 January 2021.

David Emanuel is a Partner at award-winning law firm VWV, with offices in London, Watford, Bristol and Birmingham. He can be contacted at on 020 7665 0848.