Businesses must act now as transition deadline looms

Every month Nancy Spungen, a chocolate-coloured and fabulously pampered moggy, who lives near Gothenburg in Sweden, waits excitedly for a parcel from London.

It contains all of her favourite cat treats, specially packed and posted. Delays will be frowned on – she’s not named after the punk girlfriend of Sid Vicious for nothing…

Luckily, Farah Radford, founder of Cattitude Box, a company that delivers gift boxes to cats, is already on the ball and is busy preparing for the UK leaving the single market and customs union on December 31, 2020.

“If I don’t get my paperwork right, the boxes could be returned, which will cost me money and disappoint the cats,” says Farah who launched Cattitude Box two years ago.

Farah posts an average of 50 boxes to Europe each month. Most of her European customers, like très chic Ragdoll cats Reef Blue and Renoir in Chantilly, France, are on monthly subscription packages.

Farah says: “Even though preparing for the new rules was on my to-do list all year, it kept getting pushed to the bottom of the pile. So, a few weeks ago, spurred on by the Facebook business forums I’m in, I completed the questionnaire on the Government’s gov.uk/transition website. There were links to instructions relevant to my situation.”

The paperwork isn’t too demanding. “I’m getting there – yes, it’s admin and it’s boring but it’s not difficult.

“You have to fill in what the contents of the boxes are, their value and the country of origin of each of item,” she says. “Then I need a custom code for every individual item. I spoke to Royal Mail about it and I was directed to the government website where I can find that custom code by searching for each individual item from a drop-down menu.”

But Farah knows the effort will be worth it when she sees pictures of Nancy, Reef Blue and Renoir enjoying their treats: “If I’m having a rough day, spotting a cat on Instagram wearing one of my bow ties always cheers me up.”

Your checklist for change

If you are affected by the changes, it’s time to get prepared.

  • First, visit gov.uk/transition and use the checker tool – a tick box questionnaire – to find out which of the new rules apply to your business.
  • Do you have an EORI number that starts with GB? You’ll need one to move goods between Great Britain and the EU – apply at gov.uk/eori.
  • If you’re exporting to Europe, visit gov.uk to check duties and customs procedures. The businesses importing your goods will also need to prepare.
  • If you’re importing from Europe, check the new UK Global Tariff schedule to learn what tariffs are payable and whether you need to pay import VAT.
  • Let your employees who are EU, EEA and Swiss citizens know that they need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline for applications is June 30, 2021.

Like Farah, Helen MacDonald, MD of Merryhatton Garden Centre Ltd in North Berwick, East Lothian is preparing for the end of the UK transition period. Helen imports the majority of Merryhatton’s houseplants from a wholesaler in Holland and receives a delivery every fortnight.

Helen, who founded Merryhatton 25 years ago and employs 20 staff, says she’s lucky as the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), the trade body she’s the Scottish representative of, has been forward-thinking in its approach to the changes.

“The HTA has been pushing members to prepare,” she says. “They have been flagging it on their website and in magazines, and offering tailored webinars,” she says. “The HTA policy department has been communicating with government officials to work out systems that are practical for UK horticulture.”

Helen has appointed a customs agent to handle all the declarations about imports coming into the UK, but she’s worried that not all businesses are as prepared as hers.

So what’s her advice to the business owners who are still dawdling?  ‘‘It’s irrelevant whether you agree or disagree with it – we all need to act now.”

Source: Read Full Article