HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the UK has issued 145,000 British businesses with a contingency plan that would simplify importing procedures in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The organization wrote to the companies this week explaining that they will need to register for Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) for customs by February 7th 2019 in order to allow them time to prepare for usual import processes.
Under the new procedures, importers will be able to defer giving a full customs declaration until after their goods have crossed the border and will not have to pay any duty until the month after import.
Should tariffs apply to the goods being imported and businesses want to use TSP, they will have to defer paying import duties by setting up a direct debit.
HMRC has also reminded British companies that they will need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, as this will be essential to maintain trade should Britain leave the European Union without a deal.
Financial secretary to the treasury Mel Stride MP said: "A responsible government must plan for every eventuality, including a no-deal scenario. Businesses and citizens should ensure they are similarly prepared for leaving the EU."
The government has said it anticipates TSP to remain in place for more than a year so that businesses can prepare to use the full customs processes that already apply to imports from countries outside the EU.
If a formal withdrawal treaty has not been signed when the UK leaves the EU on March 29th 2019, all EU rules and regulations will cease to apply and Britain would be subject to World Trade Organization rules.
UK exports would then face the same customs checks and tariffs as other non-EU nations.
The transition period designed to give businesses chance to respond to the changes between March 2019 and December 2020 would also be off the table, unless an alternative could be put in place or the two-year negotiation period was extended.