More than two months after the UK left the European Union, the impact of Brexit on small businesses is still coming out in the wash. But while it hasn’t been the catastrophe that was predicted and Kent hasn’t become a republic, new layers of unexpected red tape and regulation for export are already swallowing up companies.

For optical practices, most of the questions have revolved around receiving additional charges from logistics firms when purchasing products – frames especially. Many believe the charges relate to new duties, additional VAT or miscellaneous handling fees, and sadly seem to be pointing the finger at the European eyewear manufacturers, which seems a bit arrogant to me, given it was the UK that elected to leave the EU.

Surely it’s up to us to have done our due diligence on what leaving the EU meant for importing goods? Sadly, it seems that for many, the solution is to simply stop dealing with European eyewear brands and companies directly. Possibly good news for any large company with a UK subsidiary or indeed eyewear suppliers based in the UK, but it does seem needlessly self-destructive.

The ‘smoothing out’ process isn’t easy, but nor is it complex (though possibly too complex for the remaining word count in this column). To stop receiving VAT demands, PVA (Postponed VAT Accounting) should be established with each logistics firm the practice uses, which will stop the firm paying the VAT in advance – as well as an admin fee for doing so. Any additional duty charges will require a Duty Deferment Account (DDA), which can be set up directly with HMRC. More details will appear in a forthcoming issue of Optician.