The Chamber network has successfully lobbied the Government to automatically issue all VAT-registered companies with an Economic Operator (EORI) number.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October all UK businesses will need an EORI number to import and export with customers in the European Union – but the onus was on each individual company to apply for one.
It had been estimated that around two thirds of South West firms had yet to apply for an EORI number – a situation echoed around the UK.
The British Chambers of Commerce had called for all VAT-registered businesses to be automatically given an EORI number to try and ease the situation.
Now the Government has confirmed it will give all VAT-registered companies an EORI number to trade – those who are not VAT-registered will still need to apply online for an EORI number at www.gov.uk/eori.
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General, of the British Chambers of Commerce said: “We have campaigned for many months for Government to issue EORI numbers to VAT-registered businesses, rather than simply wait for them to apply.
“This common sense step will prompt more traders to prepare for change and consider what else they need to do to be ready for an unwanted ‘no deal’ scenario.
“Businesses do not want a messy and disorderly ‘no deal’ Brexit on 31 October, but given the ticking clock, it’s prudent that both government and industry be as prepared as possible.
“The proportion of firms applying for EORI numbers was concerningly low, and automatic issuance will help ease the administrative burden facing companies in the weeks and months ahead.”
It takes just minutes for non-VAT-registered companies to apply online for an EORI on the UK Government website at www.gov.uk/eori.
“Sorting EORI numbers is only a first step. For many firms, it will trigger more questions,” said Dr Marshall.
“Businesses still need clarity on many other cross-border trade issues, such as customs procedures at borders following a no deal exit and when the Government will launch an official database to provide ease of access to information on tariffs and quotas.
“The Government must urgently provide answers to these questions and ramp up both guidance and support for businesses,” he said.