Preparing for Brexit

The full effects of Brexit on businesses may still be largely unknown, but that does not mean businesses should not start preparing. This includes preparing for a potential 'no deal' Brexit scenario, which would mean no transition period. If that was the case, consumers, businesses and public bodies would have to respond immediately to changes as result of leaving the EU on 29 March 2019.

According to the Institute for Government, the principal consequences of a ‘no deal' for businesses are as follows:

  • The UK becomes a third country, with no preferential deal for customs purposes or for VAT
  • Licenses and approvals issued by the UK are no longer recognised by the EU
  • Companies based in the UK can no longer operate in the EU as a member state and need to either move business or establish a representative in an EU country
  • The UK is no longer an approved destination for some EU business (e.g. ship recycling, some waste management)
  • UK professional qualifications are not recognised by the EU
  • The UK stops being part of EU systems – like the aviation area or the energy market

Some of these consequences could be highly disruptive. For example, agriculture and agri-food would be particularly severely impacted by the EU's border inspection regime – as well as potential tariffs.

Preparing for a 'no deal' Brexit

On 18 December 2018, the UK Government announced that it was ‘ramping up' preparations for a no deal Brexit. Although the Brexit Secretary declared the Government's focus was still on getting a deal negotiated with Brussels through Parliament, preparing for leaving the EU with no agreement had become its 'operational priority'.

The Government is advising businesses to activate their own 'no deal' contingency plans, as they think appropriate.

The Government has said that, in the event of a 'no deal', it is committed to prioritising stability for businesses. It says it will continue to work closely with industry to ensure that interventions in a no deal scenario are conducted in a way that minimises delays and additional burdens for legitimate trade, while ensuring compliance. However, the approach of continuity does not mean that everything will stay the same.

The following are a few links that can help you start thinking about what you need to do. This list is not exhaustive, and Stratford-on-Avon District Council is not responsible for the content or accuracy of any third-party website.

UK Government

Business Readiness Website

The UK Government has launched a business readiness website, which includes a tool to enable you understand how leaving the EU may affect your business and what you can do to get ready.

The website is divided into sections:

  • European and domestic funding: Changes to funding for areas include research and higher education, social and structural development and sector-specific funds
  • Energy and climate: Changes to areas include energy, renewables, the nuclear industry and regulated carbon emissions

The website also provides information to assist:

Technical Notices

The UK Government has published a collection of technical notices on how to prepare if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019. These cover a whole range of topics including importing and exporting; meeting business regulations; and workplace rights.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

Partnership Pack

This partnership pack is designed to help support businesses preparing for day one if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The pack has also been split into sections relevant to different user groups to help you find what you need (Individuals, traders, service industries, transporters, other operators at the UK border, creative, cultural and sport, agrifood, animals and plants and specialist traders) and sets out what to expect on day one of a 'no deal' scenario.

Customs, excise and VAT

If the UK exits the EU without a deal, UK businesses will have to apply customs, excise and VAT procedures to goods traded with the EU, in broadly the same way that already applies for goods traded outside of the EU. The detail is set out in the technical notices on GOV.UK. The following link sets out the important changes to expect:

Step-by-step guides

These HMRC guides set out the step-by-step process that businesses will need to follow when importing from or exporting to the EU, in a ‘no deal' scenario.

Guidance for UK businesses that trade with the EU

On 4 December 2018, HMRC published further guidance on declaring goods at customs if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. This guidance sets out an overview plus details on:

  • making a declaration
  • getting help from third parties
  • software providers
  • the National Export System
  • VAT, Excise and Customs Duty on goods you import or export
  • Further information

On 4 December, HMRC also published letters it sent to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses only trading with the EU that explain changes to customs, excise and VAT in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal:

Trading with countries outside of the EU

You can find information on how to trade with countries outside of the EU on GOV.UK. It covers customs procedures, excise rules and VAT when importing or exporting goods outside the EU.

Customs Declaration Service

The Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) is being replaced by Customs Declaration Service (CDS). HMRC began phasing in CDS from August 2018, starting with a group of importers who make certain types of Supplementary Declarations. From November 2018 remaining importers will start to move over to CDS. Exporters will follow when export functionality is delivered in March 2019.

Visit the CDS web pages to understand how the changes affect your business and what you will need to do to prepare for the introduction of CDS and when. This includes making sure you have a Government Gateway account and an EORI number.

A new Trade Tariff will be used for declarations on CDS to comply with the Union Customs Code (UCC), and HMRC has stated it is important for businesses to understand how the information it provides will change. The imports tariff can be found using the link above. The exports Tariff will be available later in the year.

CDS is compliant with the UCC, EU legislation that aims to bring consistency to customs declarations across the Union. While the United Kingdom will leave the EU from the end of March 2019, the Government says that it still plans to comply with this legislation.

Email Alerts

You can stay up-to-date with HMRC by registering for email alerts.

Tell HMRC what you need

HMRC says it wants to provide as much support as possible to help businesses and their customers, members and clients prepare for a ‘no deal' scenario. It is asking for feedback on:

  • what information, guidance and support you would find most useful as stakeholders and intermediaries
  • what businesses are telling you they need
  • whether the information HMRC provides can be improved, or if you and your clients have questions that they are not addressing
  • whether HMRC is using the right formats and channels to support you and provide you with resources and guidance.

Please contact:

Department for International Trade

Explore the potential of exporting with guidance, services and support from the Department for International Trade.

Home Office

If you're an EU citizen, you and your family will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. If your application is successful, you'll get either settled or pre-settled status.

You may be able to stay in the UK without applying - for example, if you're an Irish citizen or have indefinite leave to remain (ILR). The UK has also reached an agreement with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and a separate agreement with Switzerland.

The EU Settlement Scheme will open fully by 30 March 2019. You may be able to apply now if you meet the criteria.

The deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021; when you choose to apply may depend on your circumstances. (The deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.)

On 21 January 2019 the Prime Minister announced that there will be no fee when the scheme opens fully on 30 March 2019. Anyone who has applied already, or who applies and pays a fee during the test phases, will have their fee refunded. Details of the refunds process will be published shortly.

If you want to apply now, the fee (which will be refunded) is:

  • £65 if you're 16 or over
  • £32.50 if you're under 16

It'll be free to apply if you already have a valid ‘UK permanent residence document' or you already have indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK.

The Home Office has launched an employer toolkit to equip them with the right information to support EU citizens and their families on the EU Settlement Scheme.

Department for Transport

Collection of publications issued by the Department for Transport:

Trade Bodies and Other Links

British Chamber of Commerce (BCC)

The BCC has put together resources to help businesses prepare for the change and to assess the progress of the negotiations. The resource includes a Business Brexit Checklist and a Brexit Risk Register. The checklist includes actions on workforce, cross-border trade (including preparations for possible border delays, tariffs and customs checks) and taxation.

CWLEP Growth Hub

The Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership has produced its own page of Brexit Guidance and Business Support Resources.

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

The ICAEW checklist covers movement of goods; product compliance; contracts; people; and financial planning.

Institute of Directors (IoD)

The IoD's Brexit Guide covers goods; services; people; Brexit checklist; IoD resources; glossary; and an index of useful links.

Federation for Small Business (FSB)

The FSB has published a pack to set out what smaller businesses should be thinking about.

Open to Export

Open to Export is a free online information service from The Institute of Export & International Trade, dedicated to helping small UK businesses get ready to export and expand internationally.

Ready for Brexit

Ready for Brexit aims to help businesses and organisations understand the challenges and opportunities that Brexit will create. It has a range of tools to help deal with Brexit.

Road Haulage Association (RHA)

The RHA has prepared a range of documents relating to Brexit.


While every care has been taken to verify the accuracy of the information and links provided, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur and cannot be held liable or responsible for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result.

Links are provided to visitors for convenience and information, and the council cannot be held responsible for accessing those sites nor for the information they contain.

Hypertext links to third party websites outside of our own website are provided for the convenience of users only. The council is unable to provide any warranty concerning the accuracy or completeness of any information held within these third party websites - this is the responsibility of the publisher of the third party website. Furthermore, by linking to other websites, the council in no way endorses the views or information held within such websites and is unable to grant permission to use material found on such sites.


Content on this page has been adapted from original material on the Dover District Council (DDC) and GOV.UK websites.

With thanks to DDC for allowing their content to be used and modified.

Last updated on 11/02/2019

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