Just 40,973 businesses have registered for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number since October 2018, a new report has revealed.
The figures come after HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) revealed that businesses would need to apply for an EORI number to continue trading with the EU should the UK leave without a deal this month.
Businesses who only trade with the EU will most likely not have an EORI number, as current trading agreements allow member states to trade freely inside the European Economic Area (EEA).
However, to move goods into or out of the EU, regulators use the number to identify your business and collect duty on your goods, meaning registering for a number will become mandatory should we leave the EU with no trading agreement in place.
Despite this, the latest figures suggest that just 17 per cent of businesses have applied, even after HMRC wrote to some 145,000 VAT-registered businesses that only trade with the EU advising them to start their preparations.
Commenting on the report, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride MP said: “We want businesses to be able to continue trading with minimal disruption in any scenario but we also know that people tend to leave things until the last minute and we would urge against that.
“We are specifically advising businesses to take some simple steps to be prepared – the first thing they need to do is register for an EORI number – it is free and takes less than 10 minutes.”
Once a business has registered for an EORI number, HMRC has also advised that they should begin looking at how they want to make customs declarations, and, if applicable, register for new Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP).
For help registering for an EORI number, and further advice on trading after Brexit, please get in touch with our expert team.