Free workshops at your Local Enterprise Office will prepare your business for customs
If you plan to move goods to, from, or through the UK after Brexit, now is the time to prepare your business for customs
The Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop is just one of a range of Brexit supports provided by your Local Enterprise Office. Photograph: Getty Images
The 31 Local Enterprise Offices, which are based in every local authority area in the country, are your ‘first stop shop’ for help. Each office is running one-day customs training workshops called Prepare Your Business for Customs. They are free, short and informative, and designed for any business, in any sector.
If the UK leaves the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market on October 31st, it will become a ‘third country’ for customs purposes.
The workshop will provide you with the information you need to manage the potential impact of such a move. It will give you an understanding of the formalities and procedures you will need to adopt in order to continue trading with the UK.
- What administration processes will be involved in UK importing and exporting?
- What customs checks are likely at borders?
- How can I assess the impact of tariffs on my business?
- Will I be able to make customs declarations electronically?
- What is an ERI number and where do I get one?
- How do I become an Authorised Economic Operator?
The Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop is just one of a range of Brexit supports provided by your Local Enterprise Office. Very many businesses have already participated in the training. If you haven’t, now is the time to do so.
“All businesses should be looking at the potential impact of Brexit on their business, whether they trade with the UK or not; if Brexit causes a sudden economic shock to the country, that is something you need to plan and prepare for too,” says Oisin Geoghegan, chair of the Local Enterprise Office Network.
“Those who trade with, or through the UK, whether via import or export, need to ready themselves for the potential impact of the sudden imposition of customs.”
The majority of small businesses in Ireland that trade internationally are trading through the UK, he points out.
“That means a significant number of businesses will be impacted directly in the event of a sudden reintroduction of customs. This is the very first time many of them will have experienced it, so they need to prepare to deal with customs and tariffs as well as the additional licensing and regulatory checks that will be required.”
Demand for the Prepare Your Business For Customs workshops has accelerated. “Quite a significant number of businesses have done them at this stage but we are rolling out more to meet demand,” he says.
How the workshop helped Moxi Loves get ready for Brexit
Pamela Laird set up Moxi Loves in 2017 and gained instant success with her million-selling eye make-up remover buds. Since then she has developed and launched a series of innovative cleansing products.
Around half its sales come from overseas, including the UK. Of even more concern for Laird was the impact Brexit would have on the regulatory side of her business. Some of her ingredients are currently safety-assessed for the EU in the UK.
“I’ve always been hugely supported by my Local Enterprise Office. When it sent me a generic email about Brexit customs training, I thought I really need to do that,” she says.
She’s very glad she did. “Knowledge is power. In just a few hours it helps give you a helicopter view of your business to make sure it’s all covered. As a result of it I’ve looked at all my UK suppliers, and my UK safety assessors, and asked what Brexit plans they have in place. I’ve talked to shipping companies and couriers, to make sure there’ll be no delays there. I’m asking all the right questions and getting all the answers I need before I commit to going with any of them, including ensuring they have the systems in place to be able to bypass the UK if necessary.”
She’s also considering securing UK warehouse space. “To ensure continuity of supply it might be the best way for us to go,” she says. “Thanks to all the things I learned at the workshop, I’m now ready to push the button on all these fronts, if needs be.”
How the workshop helped Infrastruct AMS get ready for Brexit
Tom Callanan’s business, Infrastruct AMS, provides specialist inspection, testing and investigation services for all types of structures, from buildings and bridges to wind farms and reservoirs. It was established in 2012 and employs four people, three in Ireland and one in the UK.
Around one quarter of its work comes from the UK. While the business doesn’t import or export, the testing team currently moves back and forth between the two countries as work requires. They also bring their testing equipment with them.
“We are a professional services engineering consultancy. We have one or two big pieces of equipment that we ship across from Ireland to the UK and back, depending on where we need it, in order to maximise its use. We couldn’t afford to have multiples of equipment, some of which costs up to €42,000, so we share it between the Ireland and UK offices,” he says.
So far they have been able to move kit across and back as required. “It works well now but Brexit will put a dampener on the movement of goods,” says Callanan.
“We’ve worked in places such as Croyden, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and normally when a job comes in we just hop in a van and drive across. Brexit will make things a bit more difficult. Now we will have to do an amount of paperwork before we go.”
He may have to factor in delays too, and assess its impact on his clients. “If someone is going to drain a reservoir for us to inspect it, or take a turbine off a wind farm, that’s time sensitive. We need to be there at the right time.”
The Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop helped him scope out such issues, and get ready. “It gave us a better understanding of what’s required from a paperwork point of view and from an equipment identity point of view,” says Callanan.
“We also learned about the time limits that will apply to us as a team if we go across and back for work. In our case the big issue is not that we will be importing or exporting equipment to the UK, but that we will be making money from the equipment that we bring over.”
Whatever happens on October 31st, he is now better prepared for the challenges ahead. “It was a great course to do.”
To book your Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop, see https://www.localenterprise.ie/Portal/Discover-Business-Supports/Brexit/Customs-Training/Customs-Training.html