How small businesses are preparing for changes to importing and exporting

Blogs 17 Nov 2020

We speak to two FSB members about the changes they are making now ahead of January 2021

From 1 January 2021, you will need to change your procedures and complete additional paperwork if you’re a UK business who imports from, or exports to Europe. Our UK transition hub has all the information you’ll need.

We spoke to FSB members about how they’re preparing for the end of the UK’s transition period and the future of importing and exporting as a small business.

James Wilthew, Director and Owner of The Afghan Rug Shop, imports from Afghanistan, not the EU. However, his imports pass through France temporarily on their way to him, and so he shared more about how he is preparing for upcoming changes.

How are you preparing for upcoming changes to importing and exporting?

For imports or exports, even if they are from outside the EU, don't be mistaken that there won't be changes as I first thought. There are likely some changes and you need to double-check. For us though the change is a positive one, as our import tariff for our rugs reduces from 3% to 2% import tax.

The UK Global Tariff will replace the current common external tariff. It will apply to all goods you import from 1 January 2021, with a few exceptions. You can check the UK Global Tariff for your products here.

What is one action a small business can take now?

If you are beginning to import and export you need to get registered for an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number with HMRC. The EORI is needed for companies in the EU trading with countries outside the EU, and when we leave we will still need one to trade with the rest of the EU. The number means you formally exist as an importer/exporter and it helps smooth the process of your shipments coming and going as a registered entity.

You need an EORI number that starts with GB to import goods from 1 January 2021.

Do you have any other advice for small businesses?

I’d recommend using a recognised national or international carrier, as most of them are well established for assisting you in your imports and exports. With your EORI number, you will find the process very user-friendly, I get my shipments when I expect them and my carrier provides all the necessary import documents and tax invoices.

FSB member Graham Mackereth, Managing Director of Pyranha Mouldings Ltd, exports his products worldwide and is marking his 50th year in business.

As an experienced business owner, what advice do you have for other small businesses who are exporting worldwide?

My years in business has taught me that language isn't a barrier if you have a good product, and neither are borders or regulations. To succeed I had to get to places and I couldn't rely on help, and I can fly to most European markets quicker than driving to London. I have had to fly with a kayak for promo around the world - it's been a 50-year adventure that I don't want to end!

It’s all about people and price. If you build good working relationships, then it’s a lot easier, and if you have the top product it can justify top price. My competitive instincts got re-channelled from man to man competition to always striving to have a better product than the competition, and if you do that then there is always a market. A willing buyer and a willing seller are what is important.

How are you preparing for the end of the transition period?

I have plans in place for what I will do depending on the deal that is agreed. These days we use shippers, and they will manage the paperwork.


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