Less than half of the 84,000 Irish firms that trade with the United Kingdom have applied for a customs number to continue doing so even after Brexit, prompting the tax authority to release a warning that they could be cut off if London leaves the European Union without a deal.
Given close trading connections to its nearest neighbour, the customs officials of Ireland are making some preparations for a 12-fold increase in the number of import and export declarations that are made by local firms if the United Kingdom leaves the customs union of the European Union.
With the United Kindom at risk of crashing out of the European Union as soon as next week, Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the government of Ireland urged companies to apply for an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number, which will be required in order to continue to move goods to, from or through the United Kingdom.
One of a number of ministers to push the message on social media, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, said on Twitter today: “IMPORTANT: Businesses trading with UK will need an EORI customs number in a no deal #Brexit.”
He added: “Half of those who need it haven’t yet applied. The Government cannot do it for you.”
The Irish government said that it would take the firms just a few minutes to register online. However, Lynda Slattery, the head of the Revenue Commissioners’ Brexit policy unit, said that some companies feel that a non-negotiated Brexit is not going to happen.
Slattery said that the manufacturing and construction sectors did not seem to be engaging with customs officials. She also warned that they will be turned away at ports if the United Kingdom leaves by the 12th of April, then the current deadline, and they do not have the right papers.
In an interview with RTE, an Irish national broadcaster, Slattery stated: “If they are not engaging and they have made this decision, consciously because of the uncertainty, come the 12th or 13th, can their business survive that decision?”
She added: “They need to understand the consequences now of making that decision. If this happens on the 12th, if their goods can’t move, if they haven’t made any preparations, what does that situation look like for them?”
However, the United Kingdom may ask the European Union for a long Brexit delay next week if the crisis negotiations between the government of Prime Minister Theresa May and the opposition Labour Party is not able to find a way out of the impasse.