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Last edited 28 Jan 2021
Ten things a business needs to do before Brexit day
Though many UK companies trade across the UK-EU border, the importance of this trade varies from company to company. Knowing the extent of a company’s exposure and planning accordingly is the key to survival.
 Build up a customs infrastructure
All British companies that trade across the UK-EU border will need to fill in customs declarations for their goods and the EU will require eight copies of these. The UK may also require many copies. Companies must ensure they have the staff and capacity to fulfil these requirements.
 Protecting the company’s intellectual property
Even smaller firms often have trademarks, registered designs, patents and copyrighted material. However, it is not yet clear if this will remain protected in the UK after Brexit. Until the UK government has created a new intellectual system in the UK, some patents could lapse.
 Clarify the workforce’s immigration status
Though it is the British government’s position that the rights of all EU nationals residing legally in the UK are guaranteed, employers must still be aware of the immigration status of all their staff to ensure they are employing in compliance with the law.
There may be some disruption at Britain’s ports, airports and land borders. Therefore, companies must investigate the likely and unique impact on their business whether the government’s Brexit deal is passed or not.
UK companies have not had to pay VAT for intra-EU trade over the last 40 years as they have been exempt due to EU-wide agreements. Therefore, companies must ensure they know which products they will have to pay VAT on and that they have the cash-flow to do so.
 Get trusted trader status
Trusted trader status is used to ease the passage of goods into the EU from non-member nations by allowing them faster passage across borders, if a company’s standards are compliant in both areas. Immediately after Brexit, this should be easy for UK companies to obtain but should UK standards diverge from those of the EU, this may prove to be only a temporary fix.
If a free-trade agreement is negotiated, UK-based companies will have to decide if they wish to use it. As there will be substantial administrative and bureaucratic burdens to prove their products are sufficiently British to qualify for reduced tariffs, the financial gain maybe insufficient to justify the time spent in qualifying for it.
Many intra-EU contracts will not include incoterms, the legal provisions that set out who is responsible for shipping goods across borders when importing and exporting (in other words who is required to pay VAT). This means companies must be ready to renegotiate these contracts.
Preparation holds the key to surviving and thriving in Brexit Britain. Brexit may cause significant disruption, but it could also provide a substantial opportunity to those companies ready to survive any immediate disruption and exploit the opportunities that present themselves in a post-Brexit UK.
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