The Brexit transition period is coming to an end on 31 December. This means that all UK businesses, as well as EU companies that do business with the UK need to take action to prepare. From 1 January 2021, there will be a series of guaranteed changes for businesses, many of which will be required regardless of the agreement reached with the EU. You need to check what will change for your business and take action now, to ensure you are not at risk.
The UK government has put together a list of actions that are relevant to your sector to help you identify what your business needs to do. In order to have access to all the information relevant to your business, visit gov.uk/transition and use the simple checker tool to find out if your business needs to take any further actions.
Importing and Exporting
The process for importing and exporting goods from the EU will change. Businesses in Great Britain need to complete the following actions to continue importing and exporting with EU countries from 1 January 2021.
Make sure you have a GB EORI number
You will need a unique trader reference number, called an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, to complete customs declarations from 1 January 2021.
If you don't have one, you can register for free at www.gov.uk/eori.
See if your imported goods are eligible for staged controls
If you import non-controlled goods into Great Britain from the EU, you may be able to defer import declarations until 1 July 2021. Most traders with a good compliance record will be eligible.
More information is available here.
Check the Controlled goods list to see if you need to complete declarations from January
If you’re importing and exporting goods that are categorised as ‘controlled’ you’ll need to submit declarations from 1 January 2021.
You can check if your imported goods are on the Controlled goods list here.
Decide how you’re going to make customs declarations
Most businesses choose to hire a person or business to help with importing and exporting, such as a customs agent, freight forwarder or express operator. They can help you with declarations and ensure you’re providing the necessary information.
Check if Import VAT is due at the border
If you import any goods from the EU into Great Britain, you may need to pay Import VAT from 1 January 2021. Import VAT will not be due at the border if goods in a consignment are worth less than £135. The only exception to this is consignments containing excise goods, where Import VAT (along with Excise and Customs duties where applicable) will be due at the border.
More information can be found here.
Decide how you will account for import VAT when you make a customs declaration
If your business is VAT-registered, from 1 January 2021 you’ll be able to use postponed VAT accounting to account for Import VAT, for goods imported into the UK from anywhere in the world. This means you can account for VAT on goods imported through your VAT Return.
Guidance on how to import and export goods between Great Britain and the EU from 1 January 2021 can be found here.
Selling your goods
Use gov.uk to identify how to get your business ready to sell certain goods in the UK and EU.
From the 1 January 2021 the essential requirements and standards that can be used to demonstrate compliance will be the same as they are now. However, there may be other changes you need to make, such as:
Check which EU regulations apply to your product and make the necessary changes
Check if you need a new product approval and begin the process as soon as possible – if your product requires third-party approval, you may need a new approval especially if you sell in both UK and EU. Subject to negotiations, from 1 January 2021 the EU will stop recognising UK approvals.
Check if you need to appoint a new authorised representative to act on your behalf – you may need to appoint someone to undertake certain tasks in the EU or UK.
Speak to your supply chains / distributors and understand new legal duties – make sure your suppliers/distributors/customers understand the actions they need to take. If you distribute EU goods, or have your goods distributed by someone in the EU, you may acquire new legal duties.
Consider what marking / labelling changes apply to your product – you may need to make changes to the information or regulatory markings that appear on your product.
Fo more information, go to gov.uk/transition.
After 31 December 2020, EU trade agreements will not apply to the UK. The UK is aiming to reproduce the effects of existing EU agreements for when they no longer apply to the UK to ensure continuity of trading arrangements for UK businesses. This means businesses will have to take measures, such as:
Apply for an export licence to export dual-use items to the EU and Channel Islands - register now for an Open General Export Licence through SPIRE, the online export licensing system.
Use the ‘Check How to Export Goods’ tool on gov.uk to look up information on overseas tariffs, rules and border formalities for trading your goods worldwide.
Use the ‘Check How to Export Goods’ service on gov.uk to check duties and customs procedures for exporting your goods worldwide. Failure to complete the proper documentation or follow the correct procedures may result in delays getting goods through customs as well as unexpected taxes on goods upon entry to the destination and country.
Use the new UK Global Tariff schedule to check what tariff will be payable on goods entering the UK from 1 January 2021.
If you import goods into the UK, you should check the new UK Global Tariff schedule. From 1 January 2021, the UK Global Tariff schedule will apply to all goods imported into the UK unless an exception applies. Exceptions include goods you import from a country that has a trade agreement with the UK or from a developing country that pays less or no duty because it’s part of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences. You can check the tariffs that will apply to goods you import here.
Check changes to trading with developing countries currently benefitting from the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences.
From January 2021, the UK will have its own Generalised Scheme of Preferences. Businesses importing goods from eligible developing countries will be able to get trade preferences through the UK’s new scheme. This means that you may be able to benefit from a reduction or removal of duty (tariffs) on imports from developing countries into the UK.
Use GOV.UK guidance to understand changes to trading with non-EU countries from 1 January 2021.
Check if the UK has negotiated a trade agreement with the country you will be trading with. Trading with countries outside the EU may change from January 2021. Find out about trade continuity agreements the UK has signed and agreements that are still under discussion here.
Businesses will be able to submit applications via the UK's new independent trade remedies system if they believe they are being injured by the effects of unfair trade practices or surges in imports.
Hiring from the EU
From 31 December 2020 the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system which will change the way you hire from the EU, so make sure you take the necessary steps to prepare. Anyone you want to recruit from outside the UK, excluding Irish citizens, will need to apply for permission first, and you will need to be registered as a licensed sponsor. The new system will not apply to EU citizens already living in the UK by 31 December 2020, who can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
You can find more information regarding the new points-based immigration system here.
If you’re a UK business or professional providing services in the EU or EFTA region, you will need to check the national regulations of the country you’re doing business in to understand how best to operate. You will also need to have your UK professional qualification officially recognised if you want to work in a profession that is regulated in the EU or EFTA. In the same way, if you are an EU professional providing services in the UK, you need to check the new regulations.
- Get your qualifications recognised now by EU regulators to be able to practise or service clients in the EU.
- If UK-adopted international accounting standards are not determined as equivalent to EU-adopted international accounting standards, UK businesses listed on EU markets may need to produce accounts that comply with EUadopted international accounting standards (or an equivalent) and UK-adopted international accounting standards.
- Businesses should check if there are any changes to who can own, manage or direct companies in the sector(s) and country(ies) they operate in.
- Businesses should check if there are any changes to the regulations for providing services remotely from the UK to the EEA. They should do this both for the sector they operate in, and the EEA country they wish to provide services to.
- Legal professionals should understand the changes to the legal framework (including changes to civil judicial cooperation) and rights to practice after 31 December.
Replace .eu top level domain names
If you hold a .eu domain, check if you need to replace it. From 1 January 2021, you’ll no longer be able to register or renew .eu domain names if your organisation, business or undertaking is established in the UK but not in the EU/European Economic Area (EEA), or if you live outside of the EU/EEA and are not an EU/EEA citizen.
The documentation the Government made available on gov.uk also provides information on the following topics, among others:
• Northern Ireland Protocol
• Intellectual property
• Data protection
• Compliance with UK emission levels
• Access to research and development funding
• Chemicals regulations
• Animal, plant, food, and drink regulations
• Timber regulations
• Waste movement