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In light of the fallout from the recently introduced UK Internal Markets Bill, it may well be the case that a cliff-edge, no-deal Brexit is looming – and looming fast.

Whether you voted remain or leave (do you even remember voting?), no one can deny we’re facing unprecedented uncertainty over the next few months as we move beyond the end of the Brexit transition period into 2021. And of course, the coronavirus pandemic has further frustrated UK businesses’ preparations for the end of the transition period – now just over three months away.

What does this mean for you?

It’s now a business-critical priority to consider the impact of trading within the EU under what will be entirely new rules.

With the above in mind, is Brexit a burden to scrape through, or an opportunity to re-set your international strategy into the future; a chance to challenge where you trade, how you trade, your routes to market, and even what you trade?

Because how often do you stop to work out why you really do things the way you do?

The Golden Questions

In preparation and readiness for Brexit, we absolutely urge you to ask yourself the following:

1) Can you trade without any business interruption within your supply chain from January 2021?

2) Can you trade without increased Customs Duty costs in the UK and on the continent?

3) Can you even trade at all with the EU under your current structure?

4) Are your terms of trade and logistics arrangements set up to mitigate your VAT and Duty obligations?

5) Are your EU VAT administrative and registration arrangements understood and ready to go?

If you can’t answer a confident “yes” to any of the above, then it’s time to think. Fast.

How can we help?

We’re currently supporting a growing number of clients, spanning B2B and B2c, trading in either goods or digital services. Brexit impacts all.

We map out and review our clients’ overall supply chain structure to determine the like-for-like position, pre and post the Brexit transition period. It really doesn’t need to be described in a more complicated way than that, so, let’s keep it simple.

The output helps clients to understand the following key factors:

1) The moving forward Customs Duty cost, and who in the chain that obligation sits with under a clients’ current terms of trade.

2) VAT registration requirements when continuing to trade in the EU moving forward, and any mitigation strategies to streamline those obligations.

3) The moving forward import VAT obligations and goods clearance obligations at the UK and EU borders.

4) Any establishment requirements on the continent to allow you to continue to trade.

5) Optimisation strategies to reduce the additional administrative burden and underlying cost of trade into 2021.

Our team includes specialists in export and trade controls based in Brussels, in the heart of the EU. We can cater for whatever Brexit might throw at you and the regulatory trade minefield that comes with it. We’re also working closely with legal experts in commercial law who focus on regulatory matters such as labelling and safety.

Whatever your position, we can work with you to maintain business continuity, which is all-important right now.

The VAT Brexit Bible

We’ll help you to cut through all the messy stuff so you can focus on what you do best. But for those closer to the detail, we’ve identified a few lessons from our dealings at this stage. Good lessons. Maybe some will resonate and help you. Click here to read the Brexit Bible.


What about your team? We think it’s critical that you set up a Brexit team within your business to project manage the process. Brexit isn’t a finance ‘thing’, and certainly isn’t an academic ‘tax thing’. This is fundamental to your international trade strategy – it may even reshape how you go to market, where you trade, and in some cases, what you trade.

There are numerous touchpoints, not least:

  • Finance;
  • Marketing;
  • Procurement;
  • Logistics; and
  • Legal/Regulatory.

We can support you in preparing your best team, placement of task ownership, and shaping your Brexit and wider international plan.

Free trade deal

All this talk in the press. It’s quite a distraction, right? We recommend you don’t sit and wait for a free trade deal, because many of the above factors and requirements will potentially still be in play under a free trade deal anyway. Readiness for the worst case, no-deal scenario will at least leave you neutral if a deal is done in good time – but don’t hold your breath.

We’ll leave you with this final thought: this is a chance to shape your international strategy into the future. A chance to reset. Ready to grab it with both hands?

Get in touch with Damian Shirley, our Indirect Tax Partner and lead on all things Brexit, at damians@cooperparry.com

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