Ireland’s tax authority said on Wednesday that there had been a dramatic surge in traders applying for a key registration number that will allow them to trade with the UK after Brexit.
Figures released by the authority showed that, compared to the entire month of January, there had already been a 330% increase in applications in February for the number.
It said that having the number was “the minimum requirement for businesses that wish to trade with, or through, the UK when they leave the EU on 29 March 2019.”
In a statement, the head of the authority’s Brexit unit said that it had made “direct contact” with more than 80,000 businesses that are likely to be significantly impacted by Brexit.
“Our message has been clear – you need to assess the impact of Brexit on your business and take the necessary action now, to mitigate the challenges that Brexit undoubtedly brings,” said Lynda Slattery.
The authority said that its overarching Brexit priority was to “facilitate the efficient and timely movement of legitimate trade.”
The UK is Ireland’s second-largest export market, and accounted for some 12% of total exports, or €16bn (£14bn), in 2017.
But around €100bn worth of goods that travel between Ireland and the rest of the European Union use the UK as a “land bridge.”
The Irish government has warned that this land bridge route, which sees goods use the UK’s road and ports network, may be subject to “severe delays” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Ireland’s haulage industry said on Tuesday that it would seek financial support from both the EU and Irish government if these delays adversely impact the businesses of lorry drivers and transport companies.
Outlining the steps that should be taken ahead of 29 March, the date the UK is set to leave the EU, Slattery said: “If you haven’t sorted these issues before Brexit day your business will be in serious difficulty.”