A survey of businesses trading with the UK has found a widespread lack of knowledge and understanding of customs regulations and practices, which could prove costly. 

Chartered Accountants Ireland, which carried out the survey, says Brexit will force the European Union to impose customs controls on the UK, and the bulk of that obligation will fall on Ireland, as the only state with a land border with the UK.

The survey of firms trading with Britain found there was a lack of practical customs knowledge in the firms, but also among consultancies and advisers, who have run down their customs expertise due to lack of demand after the creation of the single market a quarter of a century ago.

Firms, especially in the food processing sector, most fear the impact of delays in moving goods due to the return of a customs regime after Brexit.

It also found businesses do not want to have to pay extra to engage customs agents, or hire additional staff to deal with unproductive customs paperwork for the British market.

Smaller firms are particularly perplexed by the complexity of customs codes applicable to their product range, and a number of businesses doubt the Revenue authorities will be able to put effective border controls and customs checking systems in place in a short period of time.

Chartered Accountants Ireland says the survey points to a need for a customs regime with the UK that minimises delays at border controls. 

It says small businesses need education and resourcing to get them ready for the customs challenge of Brexit, and it says the EU should help Irish small firms with the cash flow implications of customs and VAT compliance on imports from the UK.