Essential tips for SMEs to get ready for Brexit

The government is ramping up its advice for companies as Brexit departure date looms with advice on employee status, professional qualification recognition and data requirements

With mixed levels of preparation for Brexit and SMEs being the least prepared, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has issued a checklist to help accountants and SMEs on the most important factors to check before 31 October.

‘While it remains the government’s ambition to secure a deal, businesses must be ready for the possibility that we will leave the EU without one,’ a BEIS spokesperson said. ‘Brexit will bring important changes to doing business, but the level of business preparedness is mixed.

‘Businesses want us to end the current uncertainty. Many large businesses are ready, but there are still thousands of small and medium-sized businesses that need to take key steps to make sure they are fully prepared for Brexit on 31 October.

‘The UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October. This will bring important changes to doing business.

Here are six things SMEs can do now to get ready.

  • Make sure your employees’ professional qualifications are recognised in the UK, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland

Make sure your employees’ professional qualifications are recognised in countries they are doing business. EEA (EU and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) or Swiss qualified professionals working in UK-regulated professions will need their qualifications recognised by the relevant UK regulator.

UK professionals working in the EEA or Switzerland will need their qualifications recognised by the relevant regulator in the country they want to work in. Check if you need to take action at ‘providing services to the EU’.

  • Signpost the EU Settlement Scheme

Employers can help their EU, EEA and Swiss staff get the information they need to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme. This will enable them to secure their rights in the UK. Applicants have until at least 31 December 2020 to make an application. Visit ‘EU Settlement Scheme Employer Toolkit’ for more information.

  • Act now to continue legally receiving personal data from the EU/EEA after Brexit

Check how you can legally continue to receive personal data such as names, addresses or payroll details from organisations in the EU or EEA after 31 October. You may need to update your contracts or take other steps. An example of a personal data transfer from an EU/EEA partner is a UK company that receives customer information from an EU/EEA company, such as names and addresses of customers, suppliers or partners to provide goods or services.

Find additional information at www.gov.uk/brexit-personal-data or visit the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance for ‘data protection and Brexit’.

  • Check requirements to operate in EU member states

Check the regulations for EU/EEA countries to ensure you can still operate there, as UK businesses, service providers, employees and self-employed persons may face additional legal, regulatory and administrative barriers, including visas or work permits. Visit ‘providing services to the EU’.

  • Prepare for new customs and VAT procedures at the border when trading with EU

To continue importing from and exporting to the EU after 31 October there are changes you need to make now. Make sure you have an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number that starts with GB. This is free to register for at https://www.gov.uk/eori.

For businesses that import there’s also the option of applying to use transitional simplified procedures (TSP). This streamlines the process and is aimed at companies with less experience of customs procedures.

Find step-by-step guides to importing and exporting, as well as more information at www.gov.uk/brexit-traders.

  • Check whether any EU funding you receive will be guaranteed

The government has guaranteed that UK organisations will continue to receive funding over their projects’ lifetimes if they have successfully bid into EU-funded programmes up to the end of 2020. Payments can extend beyond 2020.

To find out about a specific fund, go to ‘European and domestic funding after Brexit.

BEIS advises companies to speak with their accountants or lawyers as soon as possible to ensure that they are up to speed with the imminent impact of Brexit on businesses.

Accountancy Daily

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