Brexit and Customs – is your business prepared?

Ciarán McConigley


Ciarán McConigley



Is your business ready for Brexit?

With the UK having left the EU on 31 January 2020, there are 4 months left for business in Tipperary to prepare for the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020.

Since the emergence of Covid-19 and the resulting global pandemic, Brexit, which once dominated news headlines, swiftly took a back seat. The fear of Brexit was quickly replaced with the fear of the economic fallout due to Covid-19 for many companies.

With the UK having left the EU on 31 January 2020, there are 4 months left for business in Tipperary to prepare for the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020.

Brexit has been a long journey, with many false dawns in terms of the new trading relationship, however it is now certain that the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland) will leave the EUs’ Single Market on 31 December 2020 following the UK Government’s decision to not request an extension to the Withdrawal Agreement earlier this summer. But what does this mean for businesses in Tipperary that are sourcing products from Great Britain, selling products to Great Britain and sourcing products from Europe that pass through the British Landbridge?

It means that customs and trade is set to will become a critical area for these businesses in a matter of months. 

Much of the commentary around Brexit is still focused on the negotiations between the EU and UK. However, businesses in Tipperary need to begin to prepare now for the implications of a new customs border on 01 January 2021. This is critical to ensure they can manage the risks and costs associated with trading across a customs border. The economic fallout from Covid-19 has had a negative impact on many businesses in Tipperary, and therefore it is more important than ever that businesses plan and prepare for what will be a big change at the end of the year.

While the negotiations between the EU and UK on the future trading relationship continues, there are steps that businesses can and should take now to prepare. This includes reviewing supply chains to understand how Brexit will impact them, understanding how companies will submit customs declarations to the authorities, developing the required knowledge to allow for the correct declaration of required information and calculating what the potential financial impact will be due to the introduction of customs duties and import VAT.

These requirements fall on the backdrop of the significant gaps in import/export skills and resource amongst businesses of all size, but particularly SME’s. It is an urgent priority for Irish business to get staff trained, build internal competence and processes, or to look at options to outsource in order to cope with the extra information and documentation demands.

There are many supports available to assist companies in planning and preparing for the implications of the introduction of a new customs border that businesses should be engaging now. One such support is the “Brexit & Customs – Get your Business Ready” course being offered by County Tipperary Skillnet which is being run online on 16 September 2020 -

There are also grants available to assist companies develop Brexit Readiness plans, such as the InterTradeIreland Brexit Support Voucher, the Tipperary Local Enterprise Office Brexit Mentorship support and Enterprise Ireland Brexit supports. 

It is vital that companies prioritise staff training and take swift action to build internal competence to be able to survive and thrive post-Brexit. Businesses have difficult choices to make in the coming months, and it may be necessary to seek expert advice to make these decisions.

Because, ready or not, on 01 January 2021 a new trading reality comes….