Shit’s getting real: HMRC urges businesses that trade with EU to prepare for no deal Brexit

Posted: February 28, 2019

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is urging business owners to prepare now and consider three steps to ensure their businesses can continue to trade with suppliers in the EU if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The first step businesses need to take is to register for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number. UK businesses that have only ever traded inside the EU will not have an EORI number. In the event of a no deal exit, businesses will be unable to continue trading with the EU without an EORI number; however, HMRC figures show that so far just 17% of these businesses have registered.

After getting an EORI number, businesses need to take the second step and consider how they want to make customs declarations. Businesses can appoint a customs agent if they want someone else to do it. HMRC says most businesses with customs obligations choose to use a customs agent.

For businesses that import goods into the UK from the EU using roll-on roll-off locations, they can take a third step and register for new Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP). TSP will allow businesses to import without having to make a full customs declaration at the border, and postpone paying any import duties. For imports using other locations, and for exports, standard customs declarations will apply.

Financial secretary to the treasury Mel Stride MP said: “We want businesses to be able continue trading with minimal disruption in any scenario but we also know that people tend to leave things until the last minute and we would urge against that. We are specifically advising businesses to take some simple steps to be prepared – the first thing they need to do is register for an EORI number, it is free and takes less than 10 minutes.

“Step by step advice can be accessed via – the help is there, we just need business owners to take action.”

In September 2018, December 2018 and January 2019, HMRC wrote directly to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses that only trade with the EU (and not the rest of the world) advising them to start their preparations and apply for an EORI number. There are another estimated additional 95,000 non-VAT registered businesses that also need to take action. Despite these letters, only 40,973 have registered for an EORI number since October.

Business owners can apply for their Economic Operator and Registration Identification number here:

Businesses that import goods from the EU can register for the new TSP process here:

RoRo locations can be found here:

Businesses can apply for training and IT grants on making customs declarations here:

To help business owners prepare, HMRC has released new step by step YouTube videos to help businesses understand the key changes they’ll need to make to continue importing and exporting goods if we leave the EU without a deal. Comprehensive guidance tools can also be found on You can watch Importing goods from the EU in a no deal EU Exit and Exporting goods from the EU in a no deal EU Exit on the HMRC YouTube Channel.

Businesses can find out about the other steps they’ll need to take to prepare for the UK leaving the EU using the ‘Prepare your business for the UK leaving the EU’ tool on