HMRC has issued a last call to around 250,000 traders, highlighting urgent actions to take if they wish to continue trading with the EU from 1 January 2021.

The UK will leave the EU single market and customs union when the Brexit transition period comes to an end on New Year’s Day, and there is likely to be VAT impact.

From then, new customs and tax rules will affect businesses that either import or export goods to the EU, regardless of a free trade deal being struck.

The letter warns that “customs declarations will be complicated and time-consuming” and that checks to ensure the data on the customs declarations is accurate will be critical for VAT purposes, on all imports.

This will be the primary method to ensure the correct import VAT is accounted for and paid, while traders are being urged to prepare for extra scrutiny.

In addition, every trader will need an EORI number to get goods in and out of the UK from 1 January 2021. Without one, they might face increased costs and delays.

Alok Sharma, business secretary, said: “Businesses need to prepare for a set of changes, so I urge all businesses to check to see what action they need to take.”

Only one in eight businesses in the UK feel adequately prepared for Brexit, while around 100,000 UK firms are said to enjoy tariff-free rules around exporting goods to the EU.

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