Key Steps to Take Now
- Visit gov.uk/transition for a list of steps to get your business ready.
- Review your staff and hiring needs to ensure you’re ready for the UK’s new immigration system and new requirements for travelling to EEA countries.
- Review your supply chain. If you are a buyer or seller, it is important to understand how logistical and financial changes for businesses across your supply chain will affect you.
- Review your contracts to check for any terms that refer to the EU, rely on EU regulation or might need to be reviewed in light of the UK’s exit from the EU.
- Plan for Customs Declarations and ensure you obtain a Service Level Agreement as demand will be high.
Check this country-by-country guide to find out how exporting goods and services to each EU and non-EU country is expected to change from 1 January 2021.
Certificates of origin may be required for exported goods. Suppliers should consider whether customers need proof of where content is sourced, and businesses buying from suppliers should also review where materials are sourced.
Businesses should also check if permission is required to export intellectual property protected products from the UK to the EU after the transition period ends.
Since 1st January 2021, all UK businesses are required to complete a Customs Declaration for all goods imported and exported from/to the UK. Our ChamberCustoms service ensures your goods will be cleared for onward transportation smoothly, without incurring excess costs.
Contact our international team to get set-up and ready for Custom Declarations
From 1 January 2021, there will be standard rules for bringing goods into the UK from EU and non-EU countries.
In addition to acquiring an EORI number (see below), businesses will need to declare imports to customs and pay VAT and duty as appropriate. An import license or other form of authorisation may be required for goods such as medicines and animal products. Check this Government guidance for more details.
Businesses that import goods regularly may benefit from a duty deferment account. This allows for a single monthly payment to be made through Direct Debit, instead of paying for individual consignments. To find out how to set up a duty deferment account, check this Government advice.
- Declaring goods brought into Great Britain from the EU from 1 January 2021
- Import licences and certificates from 1 January 2021
- Labelling and marketing standards from 1 January 2021
- Importing and exporting plants and plant products from 1 January 2021
- Importing animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from 1 January 2021
- How to import and export goods between Great Britain and the EU from 1 January 2021
- Moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021
As of 1st January 2021, Scottish businesses must now comply with new regulation and procedures when trading with European partners, including new paperwork, costs and formalities.
It's vital that you understand and follow these rules when trading with the EU.
If you do not have a UK EORI number, you should apply for one here. Costs and delays are likely without this, and it is advisable to apply as soon as possible.
The right paperwork will be essential for importing and exporting goods from 1 January 2021. For detailed guidance on the international trade paperwork you will need, including contracts, licences and declarations, check this Government advice page.
Businesses should familiarise themselves with Incoterms (international commercial terms). This is important for ensuring the right contract terms are set between importers and exporters, and to clarify responsibilities, risks and costs. Check International Chambers of Commerce guidance for more information.
Tariffs may impact the costs of trading with EU and non-EU countries from 1 January 2021. Check the following guidance to find out whether this will affect your costs:
This Government information explains the impacts of trading under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and provides information on UK trade agreements. Note however that tariffs in UK-EU trade may not apply depending on whether a trade agreement has been successfully negotiated.
If you are a buyer or seller, you should check whether tariffs might impact businesses in your supply chain and therefore affect your own costs.
New border customs checks could cause delays. Businesses should check how prepared their supply chains are for potential delays, the costs that could result from these delays and whether changes to inventory and storage are necessary.
Hauliers should check that drivers have the correct documentation to drive in the EU after 1 January 2021. An international driving permit (IDP) or an additional licence may be required. Insurance and registration requirements may also apply.
Detailed advice on the transportation of goods is available on this Government portal.
EEA regulations will no longer apply to UK cross-border services trade from 1 January 2021.
As a result, any services sold by UK businesses to parties in the EU will be considered to originate from a ‘third country’ and you may face new regulatory, administrative and legal barriers.
It is important to understand the guidelines of the country in which you are selling services. Check this country-by-country guide for advice.
For further information, including on owning or managing businesses registered in the EU and VAT on digital sales, check this Government guidance.
Businesses are advised to start preparing immediately for the impacts of potential changes to rules governing online activity in EEA countries. The eCommerce Directive, which is the EU’s legal framework for online services, will not apply to the UK after the transition period ends. This step-by-step guidance will help you ensure your business is compliant.
The Government also recommends seeking legal advice.
While rules governing data protection from 1 January 2021 are not yet set, it is critical for businesses that process the personal data of stakeholders, customers, and any other contacts, to be prepared for changes.
To understand how you can best prepare, please check the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance below:
Employers with UK-based staff who regularly travel to EU nations for work, and vice versa, should consider whether visas are needed or whether the trip qualifies for a visa-exempt business visit.
As well as business travel, businesses now need to consider work visas when employing EU nationals.
It is advisable to start considering your skills and hiring needs, and preparing for the steps you will need to take to hire people from outside the UK if necessary.
A new UK immigration system will be introduced from 1 January 2021. All EU and non-EU citizens who wish to work in the UK from this date will need to apply under the new points-based system. Check this Government information for further details.
If you currently employ an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, they must apply before 30 June 2021 for settled status in order to continue living in the UK. Application details are available here.
Travelling to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein will be affected after the transition period ends. The UK Government’s business travel guidance page outlines key factors to consider ahead of travel scheduled on or after 1 January 2021.
It is also advisable to check the following guidance to prepare for expected changes:
Accounting and Auditing
It is important to be aware of changes to the UK’s reporting regime from 1 January 2021.
Businesses should check whether it will be necessary to make changes to how accounting and reporting is undertaken to avoid potential breaches of reporting requirements in EEA countries.
The following Government guidance sets out how you might be affected:
- Accounting for UK companies
- Accounting for EEA organisations with UK presence
- UK auditors and auditing companies operating in the EEA
Payments of interest, royalties and dividends between UK and EU businesses could change. Check this Government advice to find out how you might be affected.
If you will be earning money while carrying out any work in the EU, you might need to inform HMRC. Find out more information here.
The VAT treatment of goods arriving from outside of the UK will change from 1 January 2021. Check this Government guidance for full details.
Businesses that wish to hold trading stock in an EU country must register for VAT in that country. You may also be required to appoint a Fiscal Representative who is jointly liable for any VAT owed.