57k firms still do not have revenue number for post-Brexit trade with Britain

Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Around 57,000 firms still do not have a Revenue-issued company number needed to do business in Britain after Brexit.Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe, said that of 96,000 businesses that traded with Britain in 2019, some 57,000 do not currently have an EORI number. 

An Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number is described as essential if business is to continue trading in Britain post-Brexit, and must be registered with Revenue. 

Of the larger businesses with annual UK import or export trade in excess of €50,000, and therefore with a potential significant supply chain exposure to trade with Britain, the number without an EORI number is approximately 3,000, Minister Donohoe said.

The pandemic and its negative effects on businesses is "unfortunately significantly impeding their ability to carry out many operational tasks," he said.

There are currently 65,946 businesses registered for a Customs EORI number, the Department of Finance said. 

Revenue said that 92.7% of imports from Britain in 2019 and 95.8% of the value of exports to Britain in 2019 was carried out by businesses which now have an EORI number.

Minister Donohoe was responding to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil TD, Sean Haughey, who said it is imperative that firms "do not lose sight of Brexit and that preparations continue apace" for the event.

Businesses and SMEs have been focusing all of their time, energies and resources on trying to address the challenges arising from the Covid-19 Pandemic.

"However, Brexit is still a very real threat and I am concerned that thousands of businesses are ill-prepared for the UK exiting the transition period in seven months’ time," he said.

Deputy Haughey added: “Whilst I understand that some businesses may have reoriented their supply chains which may negate the need for an EORI number, these figures are nevertheless concerning and underscore that work still needs to be done to ensure that our businesses and SMEs are prepared in as much as feasibly possible for Brexit."

Mr Haughey said applying for an EORI number is a "simple and free online process": "I would urge all businesses that have or are planning to trade with the UK to apply for one as soon as possible. Ireland is potentially facing a hard Brexit in approximately seven months’ time and a concerted effort is required to ensure our businesses and SMEs are prepared in as much as feasibly possible for what lies ahead."