Businesses report mounting problems as Brexit reality dawns – Ready for Brexit survey

Many thanks to everyone who completed our recent survey. Replies came from a wide range of industries and business functions in the UK, EU and worldwide. 94% found our Newsletter valuable (sample comment, “I read it thoroughly);  92% find our website valuable (“very factual and relevant”).

The survey highlighted major concerns over Brexit’s initial implementation and the longer-term outlook for UK businesses.

Customs issues.  27% of respondents identified these as their top issue in the short-term. This figure rose to 43% when asked about their longer-term concerns. Sample comments included:

“I think that the whole Brexit process has been rushed and business simply doesn’t know what has hit them (on both the EU and UK sides)”; “We have huge concerns over EU companies not wanting to trade with the UK anymore as it is too difficult”; “Confusion and delays regarding Customs, Duty and the definition of Importer of Record when the goods we are exporting are going to Amazon warehouses in the EU for ‘Fulfillment By Amazon’ sales rather than direct to Amazon, or directly to consumers”; “N Ireland!”; “Major confusion over Customs Declarations”; “Nobody seems to know what (if any) tariffs need to be paid and on what products”; “Different interpretations of the rules. GB Customs state no veterinary inspection is needed, but Spanish / French Customs require them and will not allow clearance”; “12% duty now being paid on imports/exports when the countries we’re working with are ‘3rd countries'”; “Moving wine and spirits as groupage into the UK. Southbound traffic: difficult and time-consuming to get correct invoices from suppliers”; “Seafood imports are really important for the Boulogne sur Mer seafood sector and we need to work together”; “The paperwork for a small business is just horrendous and time-consuming”; “Cost increase is massive”.

Rules of Origin. 22% are concerned over the new paperwork requirements for UK-EU trade:

“Lack of information available for non ‘run-of-the-mill’ exports and imports”; “Desperately slow shipping times as a result, and increased cost of administration”; “We are in a dilemma with regard to what is really required on our Commercial Invoices and Packing Lists when exporting to the EU”; “This will likely increase our raw material prices, as well as delaying deliveries”.

UK government commitment to business was identified by 16% of respondents:

“Increased workload for SMEs and the extra costs incurred on already small margins”; “Brexit is making such an impact on my business that I am looking at moving it to the EU”; “Tariff-free doesn’t mean friction-free. No point being tariff-free if you can’t export/import because of red tape/costs”; “Lack of information being provided to business for the export of goods into the EU”; “Need to maintain competitiveness in the market and reduce the risk of returns.”

VAT issues were also identified by 16% of respondents:

“When you ask a question, HMRC just send you a load of links that take you down a rabbit hole and you are none the wiser”; “It is not clear what VAT reporting requirements there are for 1 Jan – 1 July”; “Lack of understanding of VAT implications for EU-UK trade in services”; “Currently all goods are exports and customers pay any import VAT – will this continue?”; “VAT for sales to the EU for small website orders is a major issue”; “Is registration for Import One Stop Shop VAT (IOSS) mandatory from July, and how to do this”.

A wide range of other critical issues were also identified:

“Implementation started 5 years too late”; “Difficulty in having to obtain visas and work permits for up to 27 countries”; “The decision to develop a UK REACH. More broadly, the whole area of chemical regulation and product safety regulation”; “We are hugely concerned that chemicals production will move abroad due to the barriers to trade that appear to be in place”; “What is being done about securing a future for the financial services sector?”; “The fishing industry needs to be fully supported and provided with the finance etc needed to succeed”; “Software issues. Lack of space in the South East. Lack of experienced staff in both exporters and customs brokers”; “Loss of market competitiveness due to increased costs and duties”.

We are very grateful for this important feedback on the real-world problems now impacting UK-EU trade.

We will launch a new bespoke consulting service to support our clients with these key issues after Easter.

How Ready for Brexit
can help you

  • We can help you redesign your business model and survive Brexit
  • Our consulting team have personal experience of operating before the Single Market and Customs Union
  • We know the issues and can help you solve your problems


We can help you deal
with key Brexit issues

Customs and Tariffs
Rules of Origin
Northern Ireland