Five top tips for business owners who want to save money and improve their green credentials

For business owners, managing your energy consumption is no longer just about keeping tabs on your outgoings – it’s a prerequisite for doing business. Consumer-facing companies that aren’t seen to be environmentally responsible face losing customers, while those further up the supply chain are now being asked by prospective clients to prove their green credentials.

Putting sustainability into practice should now be at the top of the agenda across every industry. Companies are becoming increasingly bold in how they communicate this to customers and stakeholders; at the end of January, The Guardian reinforced its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by announcing a ban on advertising from fossil fuel firms.

For most business owners, however, it needn’t be that complicated. One of the simplest ways to reduce your impact on the planet and improve your bottom line is by switching to renewable energy and being smart with the energy you use. But how do we navigate the sea of information out there and find a solution that truly works for you and your company?

In this article, the experts at Opus Energy, one of the leading providers of renewable energy to businesses, gives 5 top tips on how to become more sustainable and save some money in the process. All of these can be scaled in a way that works for you – no matter what size your business is.

Start small

Implementing more sustainable practices into your business needn’t break the bank. In fact, there are plenty of small steps you can take that, when measured over time, end up going a long way. For example, did you know that turning the office heating down by 1°C you can reduce your annual heating bill by up to 8%? So, if your business spends £500 a month on energy, that small turn of the dial would save you £480 each year – the equivalent of one month’s energy.

Similar savings can be made across other aspects of your business. Take electricity costs for lighting as another example: leaving the lights on in the meeting room never seems like a big deal – but, by using motion sensitive lighting you could save enough energy to make up to 300 cups of tea. Likewise, using energy-efficient lighting can save businesses about £1,500 a year.

Another tip is to have a company-wide switch off policy. While it may seem trivial, leaving 50 computers on overnight for a year would create enough CO2 to fill a double decker bus – and cost your business £1.76 a day.

Company cars: Choose the right vehicle

While a lot has been said about leveraging the benefits of car-pooling and subscription-based mobility services, the use of cars for some companies is an unavoidable part of doing business. If your business offers company cars to your employees, it pays to ask yourself the right questions when deciding on what vehicles to go for. How long will your drivers be on the road for and what distances will they be covering? Will they be driving in city centres where Clean Air Zones are in place? And if they were to drive an electric vehicle (EV), would they have access to charging points along the way?

Taking all of this into consideration is key in saving money and reducing emissions, as it can make a huge difference in determining the correct type of vehicle necessary.

It’s also crucial that you look at the whole life costs when choosing a vehicle. It’s easy to focus on the headline sticker price – this is often the case when looking at EVs which in the past have carried a heftier price tag – but there are many other costs involved, from taxes and insurance to fuel and vehicle depreciation. So, when you add all of these up, you might find that switching to an EV fleet isn’t as expensive as you thought.

What’s more, EVs are becoming increasingly affordable, so there’s never been a better time to think of making the switch. They offer two solutions at once: reducing exhaust-related emissions and reducing the use of fossil-derived fuels. By switching your business-use vehicles, including fleet vehicles, to EVs, you can make a drastic cut your carbon footprint.

Use a smart meter

The UK Government estimates that installing energy efficiency measures could reduce the energy costs for SMEs by between 18% and 25%. One such example of this is the smart meter, which gives SME owners access to vast quantities of real-time data-related insights into how and where they use their energy. This transparency allows businesses to be smarter and more energy efficient, providing them with an easy way to be more sustainable.

Smart meters are also the backbone of the Smart Grid, which will play a significant role in the UK Government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 by ensuring that supply and demand are always in balance. For companies looking to be proactive in their efforts to cut their carbon footprint and play their part, the smart meter is a savvy move.

Invest in renewables

If you’ve already switched your energy supply to a more environmentally friendly tariff or provider, why not look into generating your own renewable power? If you are able to, installing solar panels are a cost-effective way of ensuring the energy your office or building uses is completely renewable.

Making this switch to renewable energy can reduce not only your environmental impact but contribute towards the wider decarbonisation across the UK’s electricity network. It’s also a way for your business to diversify, by bringing in a new stream of revenue. If done right, it can be low effort, high impact and great for the environment.

Think long term

When it comes to saving money through sustainable practices, it’s crucial that we train ourselves to think long-term, rather than simply thinking about immediate gains. The change associated with moving towards sustainability can often be a deterrent for business owners, as there is a perception that these come at a large cost. But making small changes really can pay off in a big way, both for the environment and your bottom line.

Every business is different, but by taking inspiration from the tips above and combining this with your own research, you should be able to find ways that work for you and your budget.

The failing high street: top four lessons for small businesses

Profit warnings have become commonplace in the national media, with once-booming businesses such as Mothercare, Beales and Patisserie Valerie revealing that they have been crippled by a rise in online competition, or in the latter case, mismanagement. Tony Hughes, negotiations and sales specialist at Huthwaite International, a leading global provider of sales, negotiation and communication skills development, examines the lessons the business community can take from these events.

1) The economy is changing

There are significant factors at play that are leading to the death of some of the high-street’s most well-known, and in some cases, well-loved brands.

The rise in the digital economy has been used as a scapegoat for many of the big businesses struggling to compete amidst profit warnings. While brands such as Blockbuster and HMV can be forgiven for blaming digital technology for outsmarting their offering – can the likes of Coast and Toys R Us, especially given consumer demand for clothes and toys remains relatively strong regardless of economic conditions?

Simply put, these businesses are struggling to compete in a changing market. Traditionally the likes of Toys R Us had competitors on the high street, but other than that, major competition was somewhat limited. Fast forward to the present and both businesses, although entirely different in their offering, face the same challenges; competition increasing ten-fold not from other high-street retailers, but from online counterparts offering a more convenient, cheaper alternative for products of a similar quality.

2) The role of strategic negotiation to boost profit is under-used

Of course, it’s not just these challenges that the high-street is struggling to overcome, and at times of trouble it’s key for retailers to maximise their margin wherever possible. However, when it comes to this, many overlook the crucial role that strategic negotiation can play.

Take rental costs. Clearly, it’s more cost effective to manage a warehouse using AI and minimal labour costs, than a store with set opening hours, high rental overheads and major contractual obligations. While these are often credited as being the final nail on the coffin of a failing retailer, how many have taken a systematic approach to negotiating on their fixed overheads?

The same can be said for the multitude of suppliers working with a given retailer: applying a systematic approach to negotiating on every deal can bring major benefits, and the “negotiate with us or we go out of business and you lose us as a customer” position can be used as leverage.

In the short-term, particularly at times of trouble, this approach is essential. Huthwaite’s research shows us that businesses with a systematic approach to sales and negotiation are proven to experience 42.7% greater growth to the bottom line than those without.

To succeed, businesses must consider areas in which they can negotiate to save money and improve cash flow across the entire organisation. This includes a whole range of organisational considerations, with our data showing that six out of the top ten most effective margin maximising strategies relate to negotiation. These being:

1) Improving productivity (53%)

2) Reducing overheads (53%)

3) Cost-effective purchasing (50%)

4) Improving customer retention (49%)

5) Reducing fixed costs (48%)

6) Managing general operating costs from suppliers (41%)

3) It’s likely there might be more victims

Despite negotiation playing a major role in driving potential business profitability and growth, our research has found that they aren’t always implementing a formal approach to negotiation.

If retailers don’t consider strategic negotiation as part of their broader business strategy, there’s really no getting away from profit loss. Negotiation is a critical aspect of business and as such retailers should be using this to their advantage. Companies with an effective, systematic approach in place experience 42.7% greater growth than those without. A figure which is difficult to ignore in light of such uncertainty on the high street.

4) The power of trust shouldn’t be underestimated

While a different beast altogether, Patisserie Valerie presents some interesting lessons too. It is now apparent that in Patisserie Valerie’s case, investment and lending has been totally mismanaged. Revelations of two secret company overdrafts totalling £10million reveal a whole series of issues, which immediately raise major concerns regarding trust.

And trust, when it comes to running a business – not least when it comes to negotiating your way out of trouble – trust is a huge factor for success, or in this case, survival. Put simply, without reputation you sacrifice bargaining power.

The chain now needs to continue trading successfully as it has done, while negotiate a multitude of deals to ensure it weathers the coming quarter. While consumer confidence is unlikely to take a major hit, the real challenge will be dealing with finance partners and suppliers. Clearly the chain’s trust capital is now gone, reducing its leverage and opening the door for suppliers and partners to put their costs up to protect themselves, and impose unfavourable terms, at least while the business remains on shaky ground.

Again, the role of strategic negotiation has to take centre stage. Despite being on the back foot, the chain has a fantastic brand and a proven customer base and these are factors the management should take forward to the negotiation table.

Top Tech Trends in Contact Centres

The contact centre industry is rapidly changing thanks to technological innovations, changes in employee working habits and expanding customer expectations (such as quicker response and resolution times). These changes combined have made contact centre professionals have to restructure their centres, taking on new technologies in order to meet the new expectations set.  Below we’ll take a look at some of the technologies which are shaping the future of call centres.

Softphones

Statistics show that employees like working from home. It lowers stress, raises productivity and ultimately improves job satisfaction. However, not all jobs are suitable for working at home, so it is important that the right technologies are implemented to try to make it as doable as possible.

Employees can’t take their work phones home with them, so in place of desk phones, you can implement softphones (software phone). Often built into CRM or UC systems, softphones bring all the functionalities of a telephone onto a computer or mobile device, and offer a way for agents to have telephone services to hand without the need for hardware.

Artificial Intelligence

Contact Centres have already begun to be early adopters of Artificial Intelligence. AI is already used for performance monitoring and analytics, predicting customer needs and also for chatbots. Another interesting way AI will be used is for speech analytics – whereby, the AI can recognise the tone of the caller, then match the caller with an agent based on the agent’s personality and skill level.

Live Chat and Social Media

A study carried out by Call Center Helper found that 40% of managers want to implement live chat next, 22.5% want messaging apps 15% of Call Centre Managers want social media to be the next technology they implement into their call centre.

All these features enable real-time communication, with live chat being used on the company website, messaging apps (such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) happening over mobile, and social media interactions occurring on both mobile and desktop.

All these platforms enable customers to create interactions with companies on platforms that they already frequently use, making it easy for them to begin their enquiry as they are already familiar with how their platforms work. This ultimately has a positive effect on the customer experience if the resolution as handled effectively.

Unified Communications

Nowadays, customers want to have their own choice of how they interact with businesses. And when they do interact with a business, they don’t have to have to repeat themselves or explain their issue when it comes to a follow-up. For example, a customer calling in after sending an email wants to be able to pick up where the email left off, not start the query from the beginning.

This is where Unified Communications solutions come in. UC tools are online platforms designed to integrate telephony, email, social media, chat and more communication methods into one, allowing the agent to quickly see the correspondence between that of the business and the customers.

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Next Read: 10 Tips to Motivate Call Centre Employees (Infographic)

Finance market needs to take immediate action as UK Government enshrines 5th Money Laundering Directive into UK law

The government has introduced the Fifth EU Money Laundering Directive (5MLD) into UK law as of last Friday 20th December. It was introduced as part of ‘The Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019’ and will come into force on 10th January 2020.

This is an amendment to existing regulation, the ‘Money Laundering Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017’, but has some fundamental new inclusions that everyone in financial services will need to take action on.

A key amendment to the regulation is new wording which says that wherever possible businesses must use electronic verification for their anti-money laundering checks rather than just looking at paper-based documents such as passports and driving licenses. The wording says:

“(19) Information may be regarded as obtained from a reliable source which is independent of the person whose identity is being verified where […]

(a) it is obtained by means of an electronic identification process, including by using electronic identification means or by using a trust service (within the meanings of those terms in Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23rd July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market(11)); and…

b) that process is secure from fraud and misuse and capable of providing an appropriate level of assurance that the person claiming a particular identity is in fact the person with that identity.”.

All firms in the financial services sector will need to implement these changes immediately. This means lenders, financial advisers and any third parties including accountants, solicitors and estate agents. Other sectors to now fall under the regulations include crypto-currency exchange platforms and letting agents, where the rent is €10,000 per month or more. Failure to comply with the regulations can result in prosecution and heavy financial penalties.

Martin Cheek, managing director of SmartSearch commented, “The Fifth Money Laundering Regulations coming into law may well catch a number of people by surprise, happening, as it has, so close to Christmas. It comes into effect on the 10th January, so companies will not have long to prepare.

“It is the need for electronic verification that is likely to take most people by surprise. Any lenders or IFAs who do not already have a trusted means of doing this will need to implement this immediately to ensure they are compliant and save themselves from a heavy fine.

“The regulations are designed to help tackle rising levels of fraud and eliminate money laundering, things that are likely to be a key priority for everyone this year.”

SmartSearch, the UK’s leading provider of electronic verification has provided a guide as to five of the key amendments to the regulations, which can be found on its website at: https://www.smartsearch.com/resources/blog/5-amendments-of-5th-anti-money-laundering-directive

5MLD: SmartSearch’s guide to Top 5 changes for business

With new European regulations set to be implemented in the New Year, anti-money-laundering specialists SmartSearch have produced a guide to the top five changes for businesses likely to be affected by the regulations:

  1. Strict conditions for the issuing of e-money and prepaid cards
  2. A clampdown on virtual currency bringing cryptocurrencies into scope for the first time
  3. Registers of beneficial ownership to be made publicly accessible
  4. Better access to information for Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs)
  5. Increased due diligence for individuals and businesses in high-risk countries

The Fifth EU Money Laundering Directive (5MLD) is due to be transposed into domestic law by 10th January 2020.

The Treasury has yet to produce final regulations for British businesses but the Directive sets out minimum requirements for Member States. The UK government has previously indicated that it will implement and enforce the new rules regardless of the country’s future relationship with the EU.

The Directive also specifically endorses the use of electronic ID verification, and states that it should be used wherever available.

Money-laundering regulations affect a wide range of businesses in the property sector including lenders, estate agents, brokers and conveyancers. The new Directive will further expand this to letting agents for high-value properties.

Failure to comply with the regulations can result in prosecution and heavy financial penalties.

Commenting on the launch of the guide, Martin Cheek, managing director of SmartSearch commented: “Although we’ve yet to see final details, the new money-laundering regulations are bound to have a serious impact for large numbers of firms in the UK and across the EU.

“We have called on the Government to publish the final rules without delay so businesses can prepare more effectively and ensure they are compliant. In the meantime, our ‘Top Five’ guide is aimed at giving them a bit of a helping hand.”

Full details of the guide can be found at https://www.smartsearch.com/resources/blog/5-amendments-of-5th-anti-money-laundering-directive

Brits ready to see the light on retina recognition

More than six in ten Brits (62%)* would be happy to try retina recognition identification, according to new research from Equifax, the business and consumer insights expert.

In general, respondents were very open to trying new forms of biometric verification, including fingerprint (61%), facial recognition (57%) and palm verifier (57%). There was, however, some reluctance when it came to verification by heartbeat recognition (45%) and keystroke dynamics (44%).

The survey, conducted online with OnePoll, also revealed fingerprint was currently the most widespread form of biometric verification, regularly used or tried by 54% of respondents, followed by facial (32%) and voice (29%) recognition. Unsurprisingly, the use of biometric verification is more prevalent among 18-24 year olds, especially when it comes to fingerprint (78%) and voice recognition (43%).

Keith McGill, Head of ID & Fraud at Equifax, said: “It’s encouraging to see a healthy openness to try new forms of identification verification. Biometric verification is safer and less fallible than traditional, knowledge-based verification, and its future development and success will be an important pillar in the fight against online financial fraud.

“People will accept and adapt to technology that makes their lives easier and their finances more secure. However, developers, while making huge technological strides in their field, must be mindful of educating consumers on the inherent benefits biometric verification offer to build public trust and accelerate its mass adoption.”

Five top tips on surviving the office Christmas party

Christmas is a time we tend to indulge. It’s not uncommon for many of us to eat a little too much, slack off the gym and have a few more tipples than usual. It’s also a time for celebration, with the annual Christmas party a highlight for many employees who use it as a chance to blow off steam with colleagues, as they reflect on the past year at work.

However, this can come with significant risk. Whilst Christmas parties should be a time to bond with colleagues and have a good time, having a little too much fun could be to the detriment of your career. Last year, a survey conducted by OnePoll revealed that 1 in 3 office workers has done something they regret at a holiday party, while research from The CIPD found that 1 in 10 people know someone from their organisation who has either been disciplined or sacked for inappropriate behaviour.

So, how can you have a jolly time without overstepping the mark or waking up the next morning lamenting, ‘oh, oh, oh’? Here are our top tips to help you survive the office Christmas party and avoid the naughty list:

Stay 2 drinks behind your boss (or the client) at ALL TIMES

When the drinks are flowing it can be easy to lose track of how many you’ve had. However, to avoid any reputational headaches, know your limits and don’t try to keep up. Always be in control and if you start to feel this slipping, drink water and fast – everyone’s tolerances are different so don’t feel the pressure to match others drink for drink. Alcohol causes a loss of inhibitions and affects our decision-making process, which is most likely to trigger something you’ll regret the next day. So, if you’re drinking alcohol, keep to a steady pace and know when to stop.

Don’t get loose lipped

We all like a gossip, especially after a mulled wine or 3. However, remember that while you may be getting on with colleagues famously in that moment in time, it doesn’t mean a throwaway comment won’t come back to bite you. You never know about other relationships within a business or where loyalties lie. Keep to safe topics – after all, the Christmas party is meant to be fun, so don’t add any unnecessary drama into the mix.

Dress appropriately

There’s nothing worse than turning up to a room full of people and feeling out of place. A way to avoid this is to read the invite and sense check any wardrobe decisions beforehand with colleagues. While the odd comedy outfit will add extra merriment, make sure it’s not going to fall flat with senior management.

Put your phone away

Of course, you want to document your fantastic night with your colleagues. However, don’t get too Instagram happy when you’ve had a few. It’s likely colleagues and acquaintances will have a cheeky profile stalk if they’re tagged in photos, so don’t let them see a steady stream of photos showing you enjoying the night a little too much. Take a few choice shots and then put your phone away. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Make sure you’re still on form the next day

The morning after the night before can end up being the moment when you regret not booking annual leave like some of your colleagues. But if you’re in work the next day it’s important to plan your day. Whilst employers might be more lenient, they’ll still expect you to work professionally and productively. Plan for meetings, making sure that anything important is scheduled for the afternoon when you’re likely to be more switched on.

The future of FS – 2020 predictions from Software AG

Laura Crozier, Senior Director, Industry Solutions, Financial Services at Software AG, has put together some of her thoughts, exploring the role of integration and automation projects, the drive to the cloud, smart banks and commercial risk prevention.

Clouds on the horizon & lipstick on a pig

Banks have always over-hired and then overfired as the economy rolls through its cycles. Again, today we read of layoffs taking place in all corners of the world – but this time it will be different. The majority of the positions that are being cut will not come back.

A potent combination of flattening yield curves and negative interest rates, trade wars, the election year in the US, Brexit, and fear of economic slowdown, will propel integration and automation projects across the mid- and back-office to reduce costs and increase accuracy permanently. Companies of all sizes have come to the realisation that a good CX needs end-to-end digitalisation, otherwise it’s just “lipstick on a pig.”

Be afraid, be very afraid

Banks will accelerate moving to the cloud and taking on value-add partnerships in response to the Asian titans Alibaba and Tencent. The world’s largest retailer Alibaba owns Ant Financial and Alipay with one billion clients, and Tencent, the world’s largest gaming companies, owns WeChat. They are leading the world in financial services and payments products and have discovered the secret sauce for creating value out of data: Cloud for scalability and AI for perishable insights.

Separately, neither big tech nor banks have this capability. But together, they do – and the West is taking note. Witness the recent announcement of the Citi and Google partnership. And Facebook’s faceplant with virtual currency Libra, saw big tech get a painful lesson in jumping through banking regulatory hoops.

Your bank account will have a brain

With the firehose speed of 5g data transmission, and the ever-increasing sophistication and effectiveness of AI, banks will cease to interact with their retail or commercial clients in a reactive fashion. By analysing cash flows, behaviours and trends, banks will step forward as partners in financial management. They will proactively assess if, for example, your utility bill that will be automatically paid is appropriate given your historical consumption and the weather patterns, and either pay it or flag it accordingly. For commercial clients, banks will proactively offer up credit lines given an analysis of their working capital history versus current requirements.

Banks will also have to sacrifice overdraft fees (forfeiting around $2 billion annual revenue globally) because it will promote stickiness, and because technology will never allow overdrafts to happen.

Better to prevent an accident than pay for one

Rather than shell out for risk events after the fact, insurers will double down as partners in risk prevention and control, particularly with business clients. Commercial customers are much more willing than retail clients to share data, knowing that it can help improve risk control and prevention.

For instance, while an individual might be reluctant to use a wearable to share biometric information with a health insurer, companies will have less qualms insisting that their fishery, construction, or steel workers wear wearables to prevent injuries in high-risk situations.

The FLA’s Priorities for 2020 – an agenda for the incoming Government

The Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) has identified three improvements that the incoming Government must adopt to transform customer protection in the consumer credit market, and strengthen the growth of a sustainable and productive economy.

Priorities for 2020 and Beyond highlights the fact that the 45 year old Consumer Credit Act (CCA), which underpins every consumer credit transaction in the UK, is failing consumers because not only does it require lenders to send old fashioned and severely worded letters to those in financial difficulty, but it actually delays how quickly lenders can step in to offer those customers more time to make payments.

The CCA has also not kept up with the kind of innovation in the motor finance sector that could help to increase the uptake of low emission vehicles. As currently drafted, the Act makes it unnecessarily complex to finance a vehicle and its charging point in the same transaction.

Finding the right finance at the right time is vital for small businesses to grow and thrive, but the reality for owners is that the search for finance often starts at the end of the working day. The UK’s patchwork of information needs to be streamlined into one single, intuitive source that can diagnose the type of finance needed, signpost where to find it, and provide links to local growth hubs where the quality of business advice is consistent across the country.

Commenting on the publication of the FLA’s Priorities for 2020, Stephen Haddrill, Director General of the FLA said: said: “Government should reform the CCA urgently, rather than continuing to turn a tin ear to those in financial difficulty, or those trying to help them. Consumers need to be given a credible, firm promise of legislation early in the new Parliament; legislation that will deliver protections appropriate for the 21st century.

“Although there is no shortage of online business advice, it’s less clear whether a small business owner could find, in one sitting, all of the information needed to decide on the appropriate finance for their circumstances. Remedying this would be a great step to improving UK productivity.”

Is My Export Business Ready For Brexit?

Brexit is going to pose challenges for anyone who deals with members of the EU. Read more to find out if your export business is ready.

A lot of our clients have asked us how Brexit is going to affect their export business, and what they can do to prepare for it. So we’ve put together this handy guide. Remember, this is only for exporting goods to the EU. If your business also exports to Northern Ireland, or if you import goods from the EU, you’ll need to check out our other articles.

Step 1 – EORI Numbers

An EORI number, or Economic Operator Registration and Identification number, is required by all firms who move goods in or out of the EU. If you don’t have one, you may end up having to pay extra fees, and you may end up with delays or storage charges from HMRC.

EORI numbers are 12 digits long, and if you’re registered for VAT it will include your VAT registration number.

If you’ve already got an EORI number that starts with GB, you’re good to go: you can keep using it. If not, you’ll need to get one from the UK Government website. The process only takes 5 or 10 minutes, but you do need to make sure you have a few details before you start.

You also need to make sure your importer has an EORI number. If you’re not sure, check with the customs authority from their country.

Step 2 – The Export Process

When it comes to export compliance, you first need to decide who is going to handle the process for you. You can do it yourself, or you can hire someone else to do it on your behalf.

If you do it yourself, you’ll need to carefully follow the instructions from HMRC. The process involves a customs declaration and can be quite complicated. If you decide to go down this route, make sure you check the requirements.

If you’d rather have someone else do it for you, you can hire a customs broker or a specialist freight handler. There are specific rules as to who is allowed to act on your behalf, so make sure you read the list of customs agents before you sign a contract.

Then you need to see if you can use the Common Transit Convention (CTC) for your goods. This offers a streamlined process which removes some of the administrative burden, and can cut down on some of the export fees, but there are some restrictions. The CTC guidelines lay this out very clearly, so check if you apply.

Step 3 – Taxes, Duty, Licenses & Certificates

Different types of goods will incur different fees for the importer. They will also affect the various licenses and certificates that you need to get, especially for things like:

Alcohol & tobacco

Certain types of oils

Controlled goods like firearms

Foods, plant seeds & manufactured goods

Live animals & animal products

Chemicals, drugs & waste

Diamonds

Most of these products require extra attention, so make sure to check the specific compliance documents for your industry.

Step 4 – VAT

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, you won’t be able to use HMRC’s VAT online services to claim a VAT refund from an EU member state. You’ll have to use the individual process for the country you’re exporting to.

This also applies for unclaimed expenses you had before Brexit.

The European Commission has a good summary of EU country specific information on VAT which you should check out.

If you sell digital services to EU customers, you won’t be able to use the old system for VAT; you’ll have to register for VAT (or VAT MOSS) in the individual member state. The European Commission page has the information you need.

Step 5 – Transporting The Goods

If you decide to transport the goods to or through Europe yourself, you need to make sure you comply with the rules.

There’s quite a heavy burden in terms of what you or your driver needs to carry:

Operator licenses

Vehicle permits

Valid passports

Driver’s licences

Mixed load or restricted load permits

Export documents

Insurance documents

Further Help & Advice

Fortunately, there are lots of places you can go for help and advice on preparing your export business for Brexit.

The UK Government has a dedicated Brexit phone number – 0300 3301 331 (Monday to Friday)

Your local Growth HUB has free support, advice and sources of finance

The Business Support Helpline for England has a live chat

A good accountant will be able to offer you compliance and business advice