Whatever your view of Brexit, UK e-commerce businesses now need to prioritise preparations for the very real possibility of a no-deal Brexit. If you are yet to apply for an EORI number your business could come to a standstill while you wait on paperwork, so read on to learn what you need to do and get the process started.
An EORI number for a no-deal Brexit scenario should be top of your to-do list. If you ship goods to or from the EU, you will need your number in place before 31st October 2019 to ensure your e-commerce business can maintain a relatively normal shipping pattern.
What is an EORI number?
An EORI number, or Economic Operator Registration and Identification, is used to identify your business and collect duty on your goods within the UK and the EU. It is issued by HMRC and has been mandatory for those shipping to and from the EU since 1st July 2009. It is a method for tracking your business imports and exports within the EU and will be needed regardless of how Brexit is, or isn’t, agreed.
Why do I need an EORI number?
As an e-commerce business owner, you will require an EORI number for no-deal Brexit if you currently ship goods to or from the EU, or if you plan to in the future. If you currently buy and sell within the UK, it is still best to have one in place, as when your business scales it allows the transition to be smoother with this already in place.
In order to avoid a lengthy delay through Customs, you will need to have your paperwork in order before no-deal Brexit hits. If your items are detained while you deal with matters, you will accrue costs and lose some customer goodwill as it creates a poor customer experience.
EORI number for a no-deal Brexit
Unless Parliament intervenes, it is likely that the UK will leave the EU without a deal on 31st October 2019. In the event of a deal, temporary measures such as maintaining our presence in the Customs Union may arise, allowing you to continue without one. However, in the event of a no-deal, it will become mandatory. There are exceptions for businesses that only move goods between the Irish and Northern Irish border.
Existing EORI numbers
If you are currently conducting business through Customs, you may already have an EORI number. However, if it contains the letters EU it will not remain valid. An EORI number for no-deal Brexit must contain the letters GB. If your business’ EORI does not contain these letters you will need to reapply. In this case, follow the steps in the “How to Apply” paragraph below.
Automatic allocation to VAT-registered businesses
HMRC is sending VAT registered businesses that have a history of trading with the EU but don’t have an existing EORI number, a letter containing an automatically allocated number. Those letters should be received in the next couple of weeks. However, if you are not VAT registered or are yet to begin trading with the EU you will still need to apply.
How to apply for an EORI number
In the likely event that your e-commerce business needs to apply for an EORI number for no-deal Brexit, please don’t delay. Most EORI numbers come through quickly, but with so many businesses requiring a number before Brexit, delays may occur, and you don’t want to be caught out.
Applications are made via the HMRC website, where you can also find additional guidance on how a no-deal Brexit could affect your business.
You may have concerns about your e-commerce business as no-deal Brexit looms. If you’re looking for guidance for your business through Brexit please get in touch with our team today.
The best time to start is now.