A BUSINESS network which supports companies around the region warned that firms are struggling to prepare for Brexit due to uncertainty.

Business West responded to the launch of the government's 'time is running out campaign' which is urging business leaders to get ready for a so-called Australia-style exit from the European Union.

Director of commercial services James Monk said: “Businesses in the south west and beyond are facing a myriad of challenges including the threat of a second wave of coronavirus and a lack of clarity about the rules which will apply at the end of the transition period.

“It is not surprising in these extraordinary circumstances that businesses are struggling to prepare.

“While firms will be stepping up preparations, many are still facing unanswered questions that are making it hard to plan sufficiently for the end of the transition period.

“A deal between the UK and EU would give companies more security and clarity over the changes in the coming months and this is still possible, but no matter what happens, we will support firms to negotiate the changes coming at the start of next year.”

To help firms cope with the changes, Business West set up a Trading Through Brexit hub which addresses some of the biggest issues most likely to affect businesses.

From January 1, businesses will need an EORI number that starts with GB to move goods to or from the UK. Most businesses should have now received this, but if they haven’t there is information on the HMRC website.

Businesses will also need a customs declaration even when trading with the EU after this date.

Business West will be delivering training for companies to highlight what firms need to know to complete them correctly.

Companies can register their interest for the ChamberCustoms service, which aims to take the hassle away from importers and exporters and ensure that customs clearance is accurate, timely and avoids costs through delays or errors.

Firms must consider whether they need to register for VAT for countries they want to trade with and know how other legislation may change.

Business West can provide information on the types of documents available, how they’re used and where to get them, but businesses must check what they need with their importing agent or customer.

The hub will be sending regular updates to companies as the discussions continue and by signing up to the Trading Through Brexit hub, companies can expect to stay up to date on developments.