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How to prepare for Brexit – checklist

Read our quick-start guide, outlining a variety of areas that could impact your business, to help you start preparing for Brexit.

While there is still no certainty around what Brexit will mean and planning for it seems impossible, businesses that sell and buy from the EU need to have contingency plans in place which will need to be sufficiently flexible to cope with a variety of possible outcomes. ICAEW’s checklist covers the areas that should be considered, including movement of goods, product compliance, contracts, people, and financial planning (cash flow). These considerations reflect "no deal" being reached, but may also be relevant in other scenarios.

Page last updated

25 June 2019

The UK government has been sending instructions to a wide range of businesses, including those that trade with the EU, advising them to take actions to prepare for a situation where the UK leaves the EU with "no deal". 

ICAEW’s Brexit hub contains information on the technical implications of Brexit for the accountancy profession:

In this guide we summarise the key business implications of Brexit.

Movement of goods

Key areas Key actions

HMRC has issued instructions to businesses that trade between the UK and the EU-27, or with the rest of the world, to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. HMRC estimates that there are 240,000 UK businesses that trade only with the EU; they would all need to comply with customs formalities in the event of no deal. Grants are available to help with the costs of customs training:

Businesses should be aware that the guidance has evolved since the HMRC letters in December 2018. A range of government guidance has been provided by both the UK government and the European Commission for entities that trade between the UK and the EU-27.

The government says that importing/exporting businesses need to take these actions:

  • Register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. Businesses that already have an EORI number from another member state (one that does not start GB) can continue using it for now.
  • decide if they want to hire an agent to make import and/or export declarations, or make them themselves by, for example, buying software that interacts with HMRC’s systems;
  • contact the organisation that moves their goods to see if they will need to provide any additional information to them.
  • Get ready to comply with any instructions that may be issued by EU-member states that they export into.


There are also some actions in relation to VAT. See our guide to UK VAT implications of Brexit

Supply chains

Supply chain mapping is an essential step in Brexit planning. Knowing where your inputs come from, and what product category they fall into can help you assess the possible tariffs that might apply.

For those who export goods to the EU, for example, you should consider the implications of a worst case scenario. This would be that the UK will leave the EU without any trade deal and all exports and imports to the remaining EU countries will now be subject to tariffs under the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It is also important to remember that 57% of UK exports go to non-EU countries and might already be subject to tariffs or quotas depending on the arrangements the EU customs union has with the destination country. Some exporters will therefore already be familiar with customs procedures, but extending them to all exports will clearly come at a cost. A more serious problem will be faced by those UK exporters who only export to the EU, for whom applying customs procedures will be entirely new. In the event of "no deal", the transitional and ongoing costs for these businesses could be considerable in the short-term. You can find the WTO and EU third-country rates online.

Keep in mind that for major manufactured inputs you might need to consider where supplies originate.

Further reading