finance

Ready for take-off from the EU


It’s not as difficult as it may seem for small and medium businesses to “check, change and go”. So if you’re still waiting to get started, head online now to the Brexit Checker Tool for a personalised list of actions.

Peter Gunson is the managing director at the PPA Group, a small business that carries out refurbishment work on aircraft interior parts for service centres in Germany, France and Spain, as well as the UK. Based just outside Chester in North Wales, the company – which employs 17 people – has been busy preparing for the new rules.

 Ready for ‘an abundance of work’: Peter Gunson, managing director at the PPA Group

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Ready for ‘an abundance of work’: Peter Gunson, managing director at the PPA Group

“I’m like a sponge at the moment, and have been trying to gather as much information and advice as I can from the Government, as well as forum members and colleagues – people who are at the coalface, if you like,” says Gunson.

“We’ve been getting weekly emails from Business Wales and had meetings with Aerospace Wales, so we’re fairly well informed.”

Like many SMEs in the aerospace industry, PPA Group imports and exports materials to and from the EU. Getting prepared for changes to the paperwork, such as customs declarations, is one of the key steps Gunson has taken so far.

“We’ve been working with the Civil Aviation Authority and European Union Aviation Safety Agency to make sure we have the correct quality approvals when we export to the EU, and have fulfilled the new certification requirements,” he says.

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“Our compliance manager has been filling out the necessary forms and going through an audit process, which means we’re still able to supply goods to Europe.

“We’re booking items exported from the UK to the EU with customs before sending them out, which requires additional time and resources.
“Plus we’ve been checking that our own suppliers have the correct certification for their products and that their specifications are up to date – for example, our chemical suppliers need to comply with UK Reach and EU Reach rules.”

As part of the preparation process PPA Group has received guidance from aerospace company Airbus, which has been offering advice to smaller companies in the industry.

The Federation of Small Businesses is also available to help advise SMEs on next steps, and urges businesses to take action.

“We welcome Government efforts to encourage and enable small firms to prepare for the changes,” says James Sibley, head of international affairs for the Federation of Small Businesses.

“Small business owners should be consulting the Government’s site, as well as our own dedicated hub.”

Although PPA Group doesn’t currently employ any EU citizens, Gunson is keen to expand his firm’s reach in the future – businesses now need a sponsor licence to hire most workers from outside the UK.

Becoming a sponsor can take around eight weeks and fees apply. This does not apply when hiring Irish nationals, or EU citizens eligible for status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Gunson will also travel to the EU on business once Covid-19 travel restrictions have eased, and will be checking the new entry requirements for business travel.

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 Back on its feet: the aviation industry is grounded, but it won’t be for long

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Back on its feet: the aviation industry is grounded, but it won’t be for long

Like most aerospace companies, PPA Group has been impacted by the effects of the pandemic. But although it has been a challenging time all round, Gunson is ready for “an abundance of work” once the aviation industry gets back on its feet – which is why he’s continued to address the crucial preparations that are needed.

“We’ve been organising new paperwork, speaking with our couriers to get them up to speed with what’s required, training up staff, and double-checking everything,” Gunson says.

“If other SMEs haven’t started preparing yet, I’d advise them not to sit back and hope things happen – you need to be on the front foot.”

Keep your business moving

  • If you haven’t started to “check, change and go”, head to uk/transition and check the Brexit Checker Tool for personalised information on what your business needs to do.
  • If you currently import and export to and from the EU, make sure you have the required paperwork.
  • Check if a visa or work permit is required to travel to an EU country for work and business purposes and apply if necessary.
  • Businesses that recruit from outside the UK will need to apply for a sponsor licence.
  • If you move goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland, you will need to find out how your business will be affected by the Northern Ireland Protocol.
  • Any business that manufactures, imports or exports chemicals will need to follow UK Reach and EU Reach
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Check below to find out the most urgent actions in your industry sector





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