Business West Director of Commercial Services James Monk has advice for companies on preparing for Brexit deal or no deal.
The organsation works to safegard the interests of companies throughout Swindon and the rest of the region.
Mr Monk said: "I think Brexit is all rather tricky for companies at the moment because they are confused.
"They just don’t know what to do. They have seen negotiations in full flow, they have seen them stop and now start again this week.
"Companies have been marched up the proverbial hill and told that they must get things ready for Brexit and EU transition but had a number of false dawns.
"So, I am not surprised that firms are confused and don’t know what to do.
"However, they can’t sit back and wait. There are certain things that are going to come in on 1st January whether we have a deal or whether we don’t have a deal.
"That’s a given and every company in the UK that is VAT registered will have now received a letter from HMRC.
"I know that opening those brown envelopes from HMRC isn’t the most exciting thing to do normally but my plea to companies is just open this one and read it carefully.
"It sets out what you need to definitely do on 1st January. One of the keys parts is relating to customs declarations.
"If you are exporting to or importing from the EU, you will have to complete a customs declaration. A lot of companies have been doing this for years.
"But for companies who have only been trading with Europe - putting goods in a box and sending it off to Rotterdam (and finding it got there quicker than to Rotherham!) - they didn’t have to do them.
"From 1st January they will have to complete these customs declarations. In the current chaos and uncertainty, training for this is one of the few things that companies can crack on and do.
"So, companies need to find a customs entry provider now and sign up with them. Business West can help companies with this, but firms must get it in place quickly.
"Customs declaration training is needed to give people doing this within a company a basic understanding of how to go about it."
Mr Monk explained that HMRC grants were available which allowed many firms to recoup the associated costs - about £280 plus VAT - and that Business West could help.
He added: "Here at Business West, we have one of the largest teams in the UK doing the export documentation for companies throughout the country.
"Yes, time is running out for companies.
"But this is politics - it is about striking a deal. It is not necessarily helping companies at the moment.
"I believe we must think positive because free trade agreements are being signed.
"We had the Japanese trade agreement signed last Friday - that’s going to help UK companies. Buyers just love British products in Japan.
"The Brexit news is confusing for companies. Just talk to us at Business West and we can help you sort out the reality from the conjecture. Avoid the fake news!"
Further information can be found at https://www.businesswest.co.uk/export/export-documentation/chambercustoms