Ronan McDonnell is the Managing Director of The Logistics Consultants. Since 2017, he has worked with agencies including InterTradeIreland and Enterprise Ireland on Brexit initiatives to assist a diverse range of companies prepare for the post-Brexit
The Logistics Consultants is an independent management consultancy based in Ireland specialising in matters relating to logistics and supply chain management. Its consultants have a detailed understanding of customs processes and administration.
The withdrawal agreement reached last year between the EU and UK avoided the need for a hardening of the land border. However, customs checks are to take place on goods as they move between Britain (England, Scotland or Wales) and the island of Ireland.
The European Commission recently warned of the need for businesses to prepare for deep changes in the trading relationship between the EU and Britain (England, Scotland or Wales) from January irrespective of whether or not a breakthrough can be found in trade negotiations; so there is no room for complacency or postponing readiness in the expectation that an agreement might ensure continuity.
The following are some of the basic steps we recommend you should take to prepare for trade with Britain from January 2021.
Ensure you have an EORI Number
You will need an EORI number in order to import goods from Britain. This can be obtained online with Revenue and the process takes 10 minutes.
Determine who is responsible for customs procedures and paying tariffs
In the delivery of goods from the seller to the buyer, it is the Incoterms that defines who is responsible for paying for and managing a shipment, including insurance, documentation, customs clearance, and other logistical activities.
So, are your suppliers in Britain responsible for delivering to your door or must you import the goods into Ireland? The Incoterms will determine who is responsible for paying the charges and tariffs, so you should review contracts with suppliers in Britain to understand your obligations in respect of customs and logistics.
Decide who will process customs declarations
You can engage a Clearance Agent to act on your behalf when liaising with Revenue or else you can fill out and lodge the forms – this latter option will require training and customs clearance software. There is currently a scarcity of skilled Customs Agents, so you should act promptly.
Compile a list of commodity codes
Even if you plan to engage a Clearance Agent to act on your behalf, you will be responsible for ensuring the correct commodity codes
for your goods are used when processing an Import or Export Declaration. Also, a commodity code is required to establish the tariff associated with a product. So, it is vital that you compile a comprehensive list of commodity codes for all of the products you are likely to import from Britain. This can be a complicated process depending on the number and complexity of products.
Check the Rules of Origin
Depending on the form of any trade agreement agreed with the UK, certain goods may qualify for lower or zero tariffs depending on where the product originated. So, checking the rules of origin is essential in order to establish if your goods might qualify under a free trade agreement.
Engage with suppliers in Britain
You should assess whether your suppliers in Britain are prepared for international trade post-Brexit.
www.prepareforbrexit.ie provides insights into the key Brexit issues and the supports available to enable Irish businesses to strengthen their position and avoid trading disruption. The Revenue Commissioners website is a useful source of information www.
revenue.ie/en/customs-traders-and-agents/brexit/index.aspx InterTradeIreland provides useful information, including a Tariff Checker on its website, and provides funding for businesses to engage specialist consultants to assist them with Brexit planning
You should check with your Local Enterprise Office regarding Prepare Your Business for Customs’ workshops and Customs Insights courses. www.localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports/Brexit/Customs-Training/
The Logistics Consultants
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This Business Support article featured in the September/October issue of The Hardware Journal.