What needs to be ready before the UK leaves the EU

By Edward Hardy

As formal talks begin for the UK to leave the European Union, the uncertainty over what Brexit will mean for UK citizens and UK businesses remains. And with talks set to continue for a couple of years, we don’t know when any solid decisions might be made. For many UK businesses, this is too long to wait if you want to ensure effective business forward planning. To make your business Brexit ready, here are some ways you can get prepared for the exit from the EU now:

Investigate potential shipping changes

If your business relies upon goods shipped from the European Union it seems inevitable that Brexit will change the way you do things. As such you need to start investigating now what additional paperwork you might be required to do, and making provisions within your supply chain for completion. In addition, you might find that there will be cost implications, and again this needs to be considered now in order to ensure that you have effective financial planning for the years to come.


It’s unclear whether existing paperwork such as Intrastat declarations will remain. If they don’t, you are likely to need to complete import and export documentation going forward. Use the time now while discussions are ongoing to familiarise yourself with those documents. If you then need to use them, you’ll be on the front foot having understood their requirements.

Get authorised now

We recommend applying for Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status now. This is an internationally recognised quality mark which indicates that your supply chain is secure and your controls are effective. In a turbulent business market, which we could see post-Brexit, having a quality status could help your business to stand out from the rest. It isn’t mandatory to have it but it does simplify the customs process. It’s simple to apply for – you need to complete a couple of forms and there is no cost.

Talk to your suppliers

While the government is busy talking to the rest of Europe, you should be using the time to talk to your suppliers both in the UK and outside. Everyone is going to be affected by Brexit and most businesses are likely to be having the same forward planning issues and concerns that your business is. While it may not be possible to make your own arrangements as you’ll have to comply with whatever is determined legislatively, talking now can open discussions for the future.

Look at your workforce

Use this time to understand who it is you have working for you, and if you have any EU nationals, who might be affected by any changes brought in by Brexit. In the past month, the Prime Minister has pledged to give EU citizens the same rights as UK citizens, but that’s only on condition that other countries do the same for Brits working abroad. Understanding who you have in your workforce now will mean you know who you need to focus upon should any changes come into effect as a result of Brexit.

While everything is so undecided, future planning is essential and the best way to approach it is to plan for a worst-case scenario. That way, you’ll be ready no matter what happens.

Edward Hardy works with World First’s Economics and Currency Strategy team to assist and advise clients on transactional FX strategy and currency solutions.