Francesca Hutcheson, of Dyke Yaxley Chartered Accountants in Shrewsbury and Telford, said with the coronavirus pandemic dominating the last six months, it would be easy to forget what lies ahead.
“Worryingly, the British Chambers of Commerce has reported that fewer than 40 per cent of its members had checked whether they will need to complete customs declarations from January 1, 2021.
“With the end of the transition period now just 15 weeks away, it’s vital that businesses dealing with international customers and suppliers take steps now to ensure they are well prepared.”
Francesca said businesses should start by considering the commercial aspects of their international trading operations from the start of the new year.
“Evaluating the terms on which your business trades with customers and suppliers in EU member states is fundamental when it comes to understanding the import and export procedures you’ll need to follow.
“And even if your company is not directly affected, someone in your supply chain may be – so you’ll need to identify any potential delays to production or delivery times as soon as possible.”
Francesca said businesses should address administrative and compliance procedures too, as there may be new customs and VAT obligations which could take time to implement.
“You may need to complete customs declarations for goods imported from the EU which were previously not required, and depending on delivery terms, you may need to review VAT registration requirements in EU countries.
“Unfortunately, the new rules will create additional costs which, for many businesses, will only compound the difficulties caused by Covid-19.
“Demand for third-party customs intermediaries is already high, so businesses are having to navigate the changes on their own.
“But the Government has promised they will be engaging more with industry over the coming weeks to ensure the UK is well-prepared to trade internationally under the new rules. In the meantime, any business that needs advice should seek expert help as soon as possible.”