Is your company ready for 1 January 2021? A recent survey by Enterprise Ireland suggests that many companies may not have done enough to be ready for a new trading world. Last Sunday (25th of October), the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar T.D. launched the new online Brexit Readiness Checker to help businesses get ready for the UK’s departure at the end of the year. https://dbei.gov.ie/en/News-And-Events/Department-News/2020/October/25102020.html.
This Checklist highlights key actions that companies should take to get ready for the changes that Brexit will bring. It includes links to the relevant Agencies who can provide the necessary guidance and support to businesses.
Are companies ready?
Evidence of the extent to which Irish companies are ready for 1 January 2021 emerged from an Enterprise Ireland Survey published on 24 September 2020 https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/News/PressReleases/2020-Press-Releases/Enterprise-Ireland-survey-reveals-customs-a-major-issue-as-Brexit-deadline-approaches.html . The survey was of 600 companies. When asked about preparedness against their top four priority areas, only 42 per cent of companies responded that they were fully or significantly ready for Brexit. It must be pointed out that the survey was published over a month ago, and the evidence gathered a few weeks earlier. To that extent, one can hope that there has been an improvement on the 42 per cent recorded a little over a month ago.
What is in the Checklist?
The Brexit Readiness Checklist was published on 25 October by the Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation. It contains 26 action points in six areas.
The areas are: -
- Customs (5 action points)
- Other Controls (4 action points)
- Product Compliance (3 action points)
- Supply Chain (6 action points)
- Financial Management (3 action points)
- Other Actions (5 action points)
This blog addresses the area of Customs. For Customs, the Checklist first advises companies to register with the Revenue Commissioners for their own Economic Operators' Registration and Identification (EORI) Number to be able to trade with the UK after 1st January 2021. It also encourages companies to find out what is needed to complete customs formalities and decide if they will be completed in-house or through a customs agent/broker. A lot of information is already available on the supports that companies can avail of. There are several online training programmes designed to support Irish businesses to develop their own customs capability. For example, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and Skillnet Ireland deliver virtual training programmes to up-skill staff specifically in customs procedures and documentation for continuous or future trade with or through the UK. https://www.ciltskillnet.ie/clear-customs-training/ For companies, who do not wish to provide their own customs capability in-house, there are a number of commercial companies who provide a composite range of customs services; one example being SGS.com- hyperlink https://www.sgs.ie/en-gb/campaigns/sgs-transitnet-customs-transit-made-easy . By availing of these types of multinational e-customs transit services, it will no longer be necessary to have comprehensive financial guarantees in place or software that is adapted for customs.
Is financial support available?
Enterprise Ireland has introduced a new grant to assist companies to become Brexit Ready. The grant provides companies with financial assistance to cover the costs of taking on additional customs clearance staff. https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/funding-supports/Brexit/Ready-for-Customs/Overview.html This is cash limited scheme of up to €20m, with the following financial support available:
A grant of €9,000 to support the recruitment or redeployment of a full-time employee into a dedicated customs role.
A grant of €4,500 to support the recruitment or redeployment of a part-time2 employee into a dedicated customs role.
The scheme will remain open to applications until such time as the fund is exhausted, or the 15th December 2020, whichever is the earlier, to allow for the processing and payment of grants.
What more can be done?
The uncertainty of the possible outcome of the EU and UK negotiations on Brexit has caused some companies to refrain from preparing for 1 January 2021. However, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, there will be changes which companies must prepare for. For those of you who may not have completed your Brexit preparations, do visit the Brexit Readiness Checklist and establish your own ‘customs-ready’ checklist https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Brexit-Readiness-Checklist.html
Tom Ferris is a former President of CIT and the former Senior Economist at the Department of Transport. As a Consultant Economist, he now specialises in Public Sector Economics, Better Regulation and Transport.