Following the UK Government’s statement that the UK will be leaving the European Union (EU) on 31 October whatever the circumstances, including a ‘No Deal’ scenario, preparations and planning for such an event have been accelerated by the authorities.

The UK Government has also stated that it will communicate with businesses in the UK either directly or via Trade Associations to inform them of actions they should take to prepare to leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Initially, the Government will be asking businesses to:

  • Check the guidance the Government has published about the changes that will affect them.
  • Stay up-to-date with important new information by signing up to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) EU Exit alert service.
  • Engage with their business representative organisations.

As a hard Brexit draws ever closer, UK Customs has issued a checklist for shippers to prepare for the changes in trading arrangements with the EU.

The UK Government has informed more than 88,000 shippers that they will be issued with a new UK Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number (EORI), which will allow them to continue importing and exporting from the EU. Separately, UK truckers working in the EU following Brexit will also require an EU EORI number to continue trading.

The advisory also stated that if shippers ‘want to move items into the UK or move items out of the UK, you will need specialist skills and software.’ They recommended seeking specialist advice if the companies do not have those skills in-house.

In another development, there have been calls by the Food and Drink Foundation (FDF), which represents the interests of the supermarket chains and other food retailers, for a waiver of non-compete laws that would enable major retailers to coordinate their supply chains better.

The FDF said that it also needed time to adjust to raised prices and stricter border checks.

It is asking that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) — which can fine companies up to 10 per cent of turnover for breaking its rules – gives an assurance that it will not fine supermarkets for collaborating on sourcing and transportation in the event of a hard Brexit.

The FDF also said that the UK’s high reliance on imported fresh produce during the autumn would further pressure the supply chain to ensure minimal delays.

In other news, the UK Freight Haulage Association has informed its members that they will require a CMR (Convention relative au contrat de transport international de marchandises par route) note, which includes a standard set of transport and liability conditions allowing them to carry on transporting goods in the EU post-Brexit. 

The CMR note confirms that the carrier (i.e. the road haulage company) has received the goods and that a contract of carriage exists between the trader and the carrier.