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Retailers warned to prepare for the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit

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Retailers and brands that trade with European Union companies are among the businesses now being urged to prepare for a potential ‘no deal’ exit from the European Union.

Warnings have come from both the HM Revenue and Customs and from Amazon about steps that  businesses can take to protect their European trade in the event that no exit deal is reached before March 29.

HMRC: three steps to European trade

HM Revenue and Customs is highlighting three steps that it says all businesses that trade with the EU should take in order to ensure that trade can continue in the event that no exit deal is reached before March 29. They include registering for a free Economic Operator and Registration Identification number that will enable them to continue trading with the EU. As yet, say HMRC, just 40,973 businesses – around 17% of the 240,000 UK businesses thought to trade only with the EU.  

Here’s the link to do that. HMRC says the process, which is free, takes 10 minutes to do, and that it has capacity to register 11,000 businesses a day – with the implication that those who leave it late may find they face long queues to get their number. 

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride MP said: “We want businesses to be able to 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.”

After taking that step, HMRC says businesses need to take the step of deciding how they want to make customs declarations. HMRC says most businesses appoint a customs agent to do it on their behalf rather than training in-house staff to do it for them.

Finally, businesses can register for new Transitional Simplified Proceedures (TSP) that will allow them to import without having to make a full customs declaration at the border, and postpone paying import duties. 

HMRC has made £8m in funding available for traders and intermediaries to support with them their training and IT costs. Some £3m of this funding is still remaining. Bids can be put in here.

Here’s a link to the letter that the government previously sent to 145,000 VAT registered businesses about what they need to do to prepare for no deal.

Amazon: marketplace seller warnings

Meanwhile, Amazon is writing to its sellers briefing them on being prepared for a no deal Brexit. 

“The UK government has not provided guidance on the duration of any potential border disruption,” writes the Amazon Services Europe team in a message to sellers. “But during such a period you might not be able to fulfil items shipped from the UK to mainland EU countries, or vice versa. This includes items you sell on any of Amazon’s EU marketplaces. For example, a UK seller offering items on might be unable to ship to a German customer from a UK address if there is a no deal Brexit.”

It says that disruption for goods send to the UK or the EU from outside Europe is expected to be minimal, while fulfilment within mainland Europe will stay unchanged.

Amazon is suggesting that sellers that don’t have their own warehouses on both sides of the UK/EU border consider using its in-house fulfilment service, Fulfilment by Amazon, to store inventory in both the UK and the EU. It recommends that sellers ship their inventory to an Amazon fulfilment centre in mainland Europe in order to fulfil orders from Germany, France, Italy or Spain, by March 17 – and it’s offering 50% discounts to those that register and ship more than 100 units of inventory before that date for goods stores between April 1 and May 31. “Doing so,” it writes, “will enable you to follow the practice of other businesses selling on Amazon by maintaining eight weeks of coverage, while saving on storage fees during this time.”

Image: Fotolia

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