Advice for Businesses - Preparation for No-Deal Brexit

Yesterday, Rob Johnston of the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce wrote to businesses in Cumbria, particularly those importing and exporting to the EU, urging them to take immediate action in readiness for a no-deal Brexit.  Given the relevance and importance of the advice and information given for businesses in the constituency, I have been given permission to reproduce his letter below:  



I'm writing to you to flag up important changes that will affect all businesses that export to or import from the EU in the event that the UK leaves without a deal. If that's you, please read on.

Don't be misled by reports that MPs have ruled out a no-deal Brexit. It remains the legal default position unless Parliament either approves a withdrawal agreement or revokes Article 50 to stay in the EU permanently.

It could happen in two weeks on March 29th.

In that event customs declarations, export documents and Certificates of Origin will be required for EU trade.

Our biggest concern is that thousands of businesses have yet to apply for an EORI number, which will be needed to import or export. It typically takes three days to get an EORI number although that may increase if demand soars.

You need to act now to ensure you are prepared:

  • Click here to apply for an EORI number.
  • Confirm you can complete each data field in a Customs Declaration.
  • Agree responsibilities with your customs agent and logistics provider for each part of the process and update your contracts to reflect this.
  • Identify if your software is suitable for submitting declarations/documents (if you do not use a customs agent).

As part of our contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit, our colleagues at the British Chambers of Commerce have worked closely with HMRC and DIT on the revised format of preference and non-preference certificates of origin.

We have made preparations to enable us to provide you with continuity of service through the issuance of revised UK documentation. This will be ready and available in time for March 29th.f you hold blank certificates for printing at your business then we will contact you in advance to arrange a supply of replacement certificates. The replacement certificates should only be used in the event that the UK leaves the EU in a no-deal scenario. 

  • There are also VAT implications for a no-deal Brexit:
  • VAT Postponed Accounting will be introduced for imports from the EU and Rest of World.
  • Businesses will not need to register to use postponed accounting.  They will simply make the appropriate entry and provide their VAT registration number on their customs declaration.
  • An online monthly statement will show the VAT that has been postponed.  This will provide the evidence to declare/recover import VAT on your VAT return.
  • Postponed accounting won't be available for postal goods of £135 or less.
  • Postponed accounting won't be available for non-VAT registered businesses.

HMRC have confirmed that EC Sales Lists would no longer need to be completed in a no-deal scenario but have yet to define the future of Intrastat reporting, although this is also widely expected to no longer be a requirement.

Inward Processing Relief allows you to suspend duty and import VAT on goods that you import into the UK for processing or repair.

You will then pay customs duties and VAT once the end product is in free circulation.  The duties you pay can be based on the value of the goods at import, or on the value of the final product after processing.

In most cases, you will not need a guarantee to be authorised to use Inward Processing Relief.  You can apply to HMRC for Inward Processing Relief here.

The Government has released funding to enable businesses to strengthen their knowledge around customs declarations. Click here for information. 

I hope you've found this information useful.

You can find out a lot more in the Brexit Insight section of our Growth Hub website, which is one of the most comprehensive resources for Brexit planning available anywhere. It's updated daily and I'd urge you to take a look.

Rest assured that, however Brexit pans out, the Chamber will be here to stand up for your interests and provide the tools you need to adapt to changing circumstances.

Kind regards


Chief Executive, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce


As outlined above, for information on no-deal planning, tariffs, trade and migration, intellectual property, sector-specific advice (including specialist help for food businesses) and the impact of Brexit on the UK's economy on a daily basis, please visit Brexit Insight.