With the UK scheduled to leave the EU, it is crucial that businesses take steps to prepare themselves, as best they can, for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. In a ‘no-deal’ scenario the UK will become a ‘third country’ under WTO rules.
Support from Revenue
This month Revenue will begin an individual business-focused engagement programme, which is designed to support and assist businesses in understanding the potential impact of Brexit and how to prepare for and mitigate the risks.
Letters will issue to each trader on a phased basis starting in July with follow up phone calls by Revenue staff in July/August. Registering for an EORI number as the critical first step in preparing for Brexit. However, Revenue will highlight other steps necessary to prepare for Brexit, especially relating to customs declarations and classification, and other obligations relating to guarantees, authorisations and, if required, third-party licencing.
These measures are part of Government’s revised Brexit Contingency Plan. In a July update, Government has warned about Brexit macroeconomic impacts and that a no deal Brexit will have severe negative effects in a number of sectors and among smaller and medium-sized businesses, and it will be widely felt on a regional basis. The impacts will be felt most notably in many exporting sectors, including agri-food, indigenous manufacturing and tourism, as well as in importing sectors, especially those characterised by just-in-time supply chains, such as parts of the retail sector. The impact of UK import and export exposure for firms could be compounded by currency volatility.
The report can be viewed here: Preparing for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union
Customs, Tariffs & Administration:
Once the UK leaves the EU and customs union, any import or export moving to and from Ireland and the UK will require customs declarations.
- Businesses will be required to obtain an EORI number, which can be applied for through Revenue. Businesses can either apply themselves, or choose to engage with a customs agent, that files the declaration on their behalf. In addition, Revenue has outlined a number of ways that will help to ‘ease the customs burden’ and to make it easier for business trading with the UK.
- Customs duties will apply to goods moving to the UK from Ireland and, vice versa. Irish importers and exporters will be required to assign classification codes to their goods to determine the rate of duty. The rate of the duty will then depend on the assigned commodity code. Code classification will become a Brexit cost to trade that companies trading with the UK will become accustomed to.
- As the UK will no longer be a part of the customs union, additional administration requirements and resources may be required to deal with new border arrangements. Businesses should consider whether deliveries can be shipped prior to 29 March 2019 and whether extra supplies of key raw materials can be stored to avoid logistical uncertainties.
Chemicals/Machinery/ Product Regulatory Issues:
The Health and Safety Authority advises that businesses review their supply chain links to the UK, including sourcing of products via distributors and in particular for chemicals. The following will be a concern for Irish business:
- Unless able to source products from an alternative EU supplier, a business may become an EU importer post-Brexit with legal responsibility for the compliance of the product with EU law.
- Where a business uses notified bodies based in the UK to undertake any 3rd party conformity assessments required under relevant EU law, this will no longer be a service to rely on post Brexit. Businesses will need to source a notified body legally designated to carry out conformity assessments in the EU.
Brexit & Certificates of Origin:
No Deal Scenario:
- We are informed that at present UK Customs authorities do not require Certificates of Origin for goods arriving in the UK coming from third countries and are therefore not likely to require Irish goods arriving in the UK post Brexit/’no-deal’ to be accompanied by a Certificate of Origin.
- Companies in the UK may request a Certificate of Origin depending on their individual needs (re-exporting etc). This applies vice versa. Irish companies whose supply chain contains UK components may also need to apply for a Certificate of Origin – this will depend on the needs of and requirements in the country of destination. In addition, companies using a Documentary Letter of Credit to finance shipments may be requested by the relevant bank to obtain a Certificate of Origin too.
Withdrawal Agreement scenario:
- The status quo will continue as normal for the duration of the transition agreement.
GDPR & Brexit:
At present, businesses can freely transfer personal data between Britain and Ireland as both countries are members of the EU. When personal data leaves the EU, the information is considered to have been sent to a “third country”. When the UK leaves the EU the UK and Northern Ireland will be considered third country similar to the US.
GDPR requires companies who transfer personal data to a recipient in a ‘third country’ to put in place a transfer mechanism such as the standard contractual clauses (SCCs), in order to lawfully transfer personal data to that non-EEA recipient. Whilst the UK intends to seek an adequacy decision from the European Commission recognising the UK’s data protection regime as essentially equivalent to those in the EU, an adequacy decision will not be in place before the UK leaves the EU. The European Commission has made it clear that a decision on adequacy cannot be taken until the UK is a third country.
In preparation for this your organisation should start taking the following steps:
- Map the personal data currently being transferred to the UK.
- Determine if the transfers will need to continue beyond end of March 2019
- Consider which transfer mechanism best suits the situation and work towards having it in place by the end of March 2019.
The EU’s VAT regime enables EU member country businesses to immediately reclaim the charge on goods bought from other EU member countries. In a ‘no- deal’, the UK will then be outside the EU’s VAT regime.
Businesses may be required to pay the VAT on goods imported from the UK at the point of entry while waiting up to two months to reclaim the money. Businesses should re-evaluate budget plans for potential increased costs of trading with the UK.
Cash Flow and Currency:
Cash flow management is a key concern. Business are advised to introduce strategies to ensure the continued ability to make payments; coordinate with UK based creditors and debtors; define priorities and consider the location of bank accounts along with forecasting anticipated receipts/payments (including estimated tariffs).
While the UK does not use the single European currency, business should become aware of the exposure to the Sterling currency and mismatches between assets and liabilities, as well as whether currency clauses need to be inserted. A ‘no-deal’ Brexit is likely to result in an increase in volatility of the Sterling/Euro exchange rate. It is prudent to ensure strategies to mitigate any additional exposures are considered.
Free Movement of People:
Under a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, UK citizens will become third-country nationals under EU law. Outside of EU agreements, Ireland has a Common Travel Area and associated rights secured with the UK. This allows for Irish nationals to continue to enter and work in the UK, and vice versa without restriction. This agreement does not apply to the other 26 Member States.
Once Brexit comes into effect free movement of UK citizens to the EU and vice versa will cease to exist. If a business has staff who are EU citizens (but not Irish or UK citizens) working in Northern Ireland and/or the rest of the UK, these staff members will be required to make formal applications under the EU Settlements Scheme by 31 December 2020. This scheme launched on 21 January 2019.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade published information informing on migration post-Brexit. This is available on www.dfa.ie and will assist Irish business navigate any forthcoming migration issues.