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Your business needs to be Brexit ready. Your Local Enterprise Office can help

Galway-based organic health brand Dr Suraya Diaz is customs-ready and preparing for growth thanks to a LEO Prepare your Business for Customs workshop

If you haven’t yet considered the impact that Brexit could have on your business, there is still time to do so but you need to do it now.

On 31st December the Brexit transition period between the EU and the UK ends. From January 1st new customs procedures apply.

Any business that imports to or from the UK will be affected. So too will any business whose imports or exports come through the UK land bridge.

One such business is Local Enterprise Office Galway client Dr Suraya Diaz Ltd, a range of certified organic health, wellness and cosmetics products.


Portuguese native Dr Suraya Diaz came to Ireland from the UK because of Brexit. She was working there as a researcher but, having studied nutrition, herbal medicine, naturopathy and homeopathy, wanted to set up a business.

She moved to Galway, which reminds her of her home town Aveiro, and opened a wellness practice.

When she couldn’t find products with the exact blend of ingredients she needed for her clients, she decided to make them herself. She developed a range of certified organic products and in 2019, with assistance from Local Enterprise Office Galway, purchased the equipment to open a small manufacturing facility.

Today, 70 per cent of her exports are to the UK, sales she has grown with the assistance of Bayin, an Irish business that specialises in Amazon sales.

She is also an importer of ingredients. Because of Brexit, she has tried to reduce her reliance on UK suppliers, switching to EU ones instead. “It’s actually heart breaking, because my UK suppliers are such lovely people,” she says.

When she saw the Local Enterprise Office was running a Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop, she signed up immediately.

I am much more confident about January 1 st and the LEO workshop was a crucial part of that

To date, 67 customs workshops have taken place, attended by 835 companies. There are 37 more workshops scheduled.

Undertaking one helped Diaz to understand what she needed to do to manage Brexit as smoothly as possible.

“The workshop is terrific. It started off with a checklist which showed me exactly what I needed to do. It showed me how to get a customs broker and what information they would need and how to fill out the forms. I still refer to the PowerPoint presentation we got all the time to check things. LEO Galway also provided me with a mentor,” says Suraya Diaz.

“Before I did the workshop I was almost pretending Brexit wasn’t going to happen. I was trying to pick up bits and pieces of information here and there, but mostly I was putting it at the back of my mind.”

Now she feels her business is not just ready for Brexit but primed for growth, not just in the UK but in Germany, the Netherlands and Spain too.

"I am much more confident about January 1st and the LEO workshop was a crucial part of that."

[If you are a small business who wants to avail of the programme, or wants to understand if their company is Brexit ready, contact your Local Enterprise Office or go to LocalEnterprise.ie/Brexit]

What to do as a business

With the exit date fast approaching, it is now time to take three key steps to protect your business and enable it to thrive, says John McEntegart, head of enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Monaghan, and chair of the Local Enterprise Office’s Brexit Committee.

"First, get your EORI number," he says. This stands for Economic Operators Registration and Identification and is required for anyone who imports or exports goods into or out of the European Union. "You can apply for it online through Revenue.ie and it is very straightforward," he says.

"Next, log onto the Local Enterprise Office website, at localenterprise.ie. It will provide you with a Brexit Readiness Checklist, which will show you the steps you need to take. After that, click on a link to sign up for a LEO Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop."

This is a one-day interactive workshop, currently held online, which covers areas such as export and import procedures, tariffs, and how to correctly classify goods.

Brexit readiness programmes are just part of a suite of supports that the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices offer small businesses

The workshop is open to businesses in all sectors, not just LEO clients or prospective clients. It is fully funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation so is free to attend, right across the country.

“At the end of it, we send participants an email to ask if they have identified a particular issue relating to customs that will impact their business and, if so, we appoint a mentor for them,” says McEntegart.

Brexit readiness programmes are just part of a suite of supports that the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices offer small businesses.

They are a one-stop-shop for all businesses looking to start up or grow. They are also the first port of call for any business owner looking to get to grips with customs. As well as information, training and mentoring, they provide financial supports too.

John McEntegart has first-hand experience of customs from the early days of his career, working for an electrical wholesaler in Dundalk. “To send goods to Donegal we used to have to stop at the Northern Ireland border, queue to get a customs clearance slip, then queue to have the van sealed, just to drive through the North,” he says.

Ensuring they get up to speed now is vital, for everyone’s sake, he urges. “If, for example, you are a small businesses that uses ‘groupage’, where you share a van with other small businesses, not having your paperwork in order could mean stopping everyone else’s shipment too,” he cautions.

The Prepare your Business for Customs workshop covers all kinds of trading, including ecommerce and Amazon sales. It shows what steps you need to take if you are selling B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) too.