As we head closer to the 31 October, there is still no clear agreement on what direction Brexit might take.  As a responsible customs broker we have a duty to prepare for all possible outcomes. This includes the scenario that no agreement is reached.

Because of this, we are encouraging companies to look at all the potential options. This will help them mitigate any risks so they can prepare their business for all Brexit scenarios. For example, if we leave the EU without an agreement, all UK businesses will have to apply customs, excise VAT and procedures to goods traded with the EU. Our handy guide below will help you prepare for any outcome.

What can I do to help prepare my business for Brexit?

Find out the commodity code for your goods

All imports or exports (including goods sent to the UK from abroad) must be declared to HMRC using a commodity code. You’re legally responsible for the correct tariff classification of your goods, so it is important you classify all imports and exports using the correct commodity code. This is to make sure you pay the right VAT, duty, excise or levies due under UK law. Use the Trade Tariff tool to find your codes:

Register for a UK EORI (Economic Operator Registration Identification) number

You’ll need an EORI number that starts with GB to move goods in or out of the UK if there’s no Brexit deal.

If you already have an EORI number that starts with GB, you can continue to use it. It will be 12 digits long. If you’re registered for VAT it will include your VAT registration number.

If you want to trade with an EU country you’ll also need an EU EORI number. It will start with the country code of the EU country you got it from. You should get one from the customs authorities in the EU country you’ll trade with first.

HMRC has now begun automatically issuing businesses identification numbers for its customs system to allow them to continuing trading with the EU in the wake of Brexit. Find out more online at

Find out how you’ll claim VAT refunds

You may not be able to use HMRC’s VAT online services to claim a VAT refund from an EU member state after 5pm on 31 October 2019, depending on the outcome of Brexit. You’ll still be able to view your previous claims.

Each EU member state has its own process for refunding VAT to businesses based outside the EU. You’ll need to use the process for the EU member state where you’re claiming a refund, even for unclaimed expenses you had before Brexit.

Find out what the process is for each country on the European Commission website.

Make contact with a customs agency

Portico are an experienced customs broker, with all the necessary systems in place to make customs declarations.  We are here to help with the very significant challenges that lie ahead, so please contact us on or 023 9289 0503 and our team will be happy to help.