With just 35 days to Brexit, a new survey from Enterprise Ireland reveals a worrying lack of customs preparedness by Irish companies.
A survey by IHS Markit of 600 companies in Ireland, along with analysis of companies which have completed Enterprise Ireland's Brexit Readiness Checker, shows that 52% of companies view customs and logistics as a priority.
But only 42% feel they are significantly or fully ready for the new regime on January 1.
Of the 600 companies surveyed, 22% said they were still figuring out what they need to do in relation to top priority issues.
The survey also found that 50% of participants said they have yet to decide who will manage all documentation and procedures when their goods arrive in the UK, while more than 30% yet to decide if customs procedures will be managed in-house or through a broker/intermediary.
Enterprise Ireland said that 44% of companies surveyed have not decided how they will pay customs charges, while more than 50% have yet to determine the potential tariff of their goods.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said that 2020 has been devastating for many business owners and it would be understandable if Brexit was the last thing on their minds.
But Leo Varadkar said Britain leaving the customs union and single market at the end of this year will bring major changes for Irish companies.
"There is a real risk of delays and loss of income, which would be really damaging for any business," he warned.
He appealed to businesses to get ready now, adding that there is a lot of help available.
"A good first step is to use our Brexit Readiness Checker, which will show you exactly what you need to do for your own business," he said.
"I know there has been a huge amount to contend with this year already, but I really urge businesses to prioritise getting ready now and use the help that is there. There are 35 days left until the end of the year and time is of the essence," he added.
Giles O'Neill, Manager of Enterprise Ireland's Brexit Unit, emphasised the degree of urgency about customs readiness.
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"The results of this analysis are concerning. Irrespective of the result of EU/UK negotiations, customs procedures will be a reality for Irish exporters from January 1," Mr O'Neill said.
"This means that any Irish company moving goods to, from or through the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) will have to complete customs procedures. Even if they use a customs intermediary there are important aspects of the customs process they will be responsible for and need to have trained staff in place," he said.
"Time is fast running out for business to get ready," he cautioned.
He said that companies urgently need to secure their EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number and determine the commodity code for their products.
They should also identify who will manage their customs procedures and paperwork as well as decide who will have responsibility for all the documentation and processing of their goods moving to, from or through Britain.