What the Brexit deal means for small business

The government has yet to release the actual text of the Brexit deal, but there are things you need to do now before January 1

UPDATED: Small business owners are relieved that the Brexit deal has finally been agreed, as it means certainty going forward.

Although on Friday afternoon, the 1,246-page legal text of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement deal had not been released, it does include a Small Business Chapter.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The work of looking through the detail of the agreement to map out exactly what it means for the small firms that make-up 99 per cent of our business community now begins.

>See also: How Brexit is going to affect your business – #1 imports

“As well as going through the terms of access to each other’s markets, we are keen to see the Small Business Chapter that we have championed and encouraged both sides to include.”

Mr Cherry repeated his call for £3,000 transition vouchers that small business owners can spend on training and advice to navigate a new trading relationship with the European Union. This would be similar to schemes in Ireland and in the Netherlands.

Jonathan Geldart, director general of the Institute of Directors, agreed.

“Wherever possible, changes should be phased in,” Mr Geldart said. “Financial support for SMEs, such as vouchers for professional advice or tax reliefs to help them adjust, would help firms get on the front foot for the new year.”

>See also: How Brexit is going to affect your business – #2 exports

Tony Danker, CBI director general, said: “Firms will immediately study the details, when they can, to understand the implications for their companies, customers and clients but immediate guidance from government is required across all sectors.

What the Brexit deal means for small business

Even as the white smoke clears from the chimney of the European Commission in Brussels, there are nine things which small business owners must do now while trade experts digest the Brexit deal.

Catherine Stephens, head of international trade services at Business West, said: “The new deal does not mean companies do not need to take action to get prepared for the new year. It is imperative that companies are prepared for the completion of custom declarations when trading with the EU. Completing them can be complicated and if they include any errors, this can cause avoidable delays and costs at the border.”

Business West has prepared a nine-point guide to completing customs declarations when trading with the EU:

#1 -Apply for postponed VAT accounting

This allows you to defer paying VAT when importing goods. Instead your import VAT will be paid on your usual VAT return.

#2 – Apply for a Duty Deferment Account

This will allow you to defer paying your import duty and duty can be paid once a month rather than every time you import your goods. Currently HMRC has waived the need to put up a Customs Comprehensive Guarantee and, if you qualify, will give you a £10,000 credit limit per month.

#3 – Check your commodity codes

You need to ensure you are using the correct Commodity Code for your goods. There are many implications such as financial or criminal penalties if you are using the wrong codes.

>See also: Commodity codes: The essential guide

#4 – Do you need to pay import duty?

Check whether import duty may be payable on your goods after January 1 2021 if importing goods from the EU

#5 – Register if you trade with Northern Ireland

If trading with Northern Ireland – register on the TSS Trader Support Service

#6 – Check you have a GB EORI number

You cannot trade with the EU if you do not have an EORI number.

>See also: EORI number: What it is and how to get or check one

#7- Get an XI EORI number if you trade with Northern Ireland

Ensure you have an XI EORI number if you trade with Northern Ireland. You cannot trade without one.

#8 – Check current trade agreements

You need to check the detail of each trade agreement with each country to ensure your goods can be imported using the correct procedures (for example – using the correct document to claim preferential origin).

#9 – Make sure you have a customs broker

Ensure you have a customs broker in place to process your import/export declarations from January 1.

Further reading

Getting ready for Brexit – 6 steps you need to take to prepare

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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