Wednesday 21 August 2019

Revenue appeals to Brexit-exposed businesses to register with customs

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
'There is some concern about the capacity of Revenue and other State agencies to cope with the pressure which will be brought about by Brexit' Photo: PA

Shawn Pogatchnik

The number of Irish businesses registering to trade with non-EU nations has surged this year above 7,000, but the Revenue Commissioners cautions that thousands more still need to register in case the UK takes a "hard" Brexit.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe backed Revenue’s appeal on Wednesday for all businesses that trade with Britain to obtain a customs registration, officially called an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number - the essential ID for trading with nations outside the EU.

“I welcome the fact that some businesses are actively preparing for Brexit and have taken the first critical step of getting their EORI number. This is positive,” Minister O’Donohoe said.

“However, if you are one of the businesses that hasn’t yet taken action to prepare for Brexit, don’t leave your business at a disadvantage. Take that first step and apply for your EORI now.”

Newly-published figures from Revenue say 7,255 businesses have registered with customs this year up to July 12, far more than the 2,976 that signed up during the entirety of 2018.

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Revenue announced it is intensifying its communications with more than 84,000 businesses, many of which have yet to register.

This follows a warning last week from the Irish Exporters Association that about 50,000 Irish businesses with exposure to UK trade have yet to apply for an EORI.

The new Revenue effort, running for the coming eight weeks, is expected to involve communications to those 84,000 businesses - identified last year as involved in UK trade based on 2017 data - as well as hundreds more that began trading with the UK more recently.

“We now have trading data for 2018 and are writing out again to offer support and guidance to businesses in preparing for trade with the UK post-Brexit,” said Lynda Slattery, head of Revenue’s Brexit Policy Unit.

“For many businesses this will be the second direct, detailed correspondence they will have received from Revenue regarding their Brexit preparations,” Ms Slattery said. “However, for those businesses that only started trading with the UK in 2018, these letters contain key information regarding the preparation steps they need to take to ensure there is no disruption to their business when the UK leaves the EU.”

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Ms Slattery said most Irish businesses with large volumes of trade with the UK, representing some 85pc of UK imports to Ireland last year, already have registered.

“However, our data indicates that there are over 3,000 businesses who have trade values with the UK in excess of €100,000, and in some cases more than €1m, who have still to get an EORI number,” she said. “Such businesses are putting the future viability of their business in jeopardy if they do not prepare for Brexit. It is critically important that these businesses take action now.”

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'There is some concern about the capacity of Revenue and other State agencies to cope with the pressure which will be brought about by Brexit' Photo: PA

Ms Slattery said registering for an EORI was only a first step. Every business involved in UK trade should learn how to make customs declarations or have plans for a customs agent to do this. They also should identify the origin, supply chain and commodity code of their goods and products, she said.

Commodity codes on goods are needed to fill out customs paperwork accurately. Goods within the EU or exported outside the EU have eight-digit codes, while imports from outside the EU - such as would apply to British goods in a hard Brexit scenario - have 10 digits.

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