The UK has left the EU. Following the signing of the UK – EU Free Trade Agreement, new rules for businesses came into force on 1 January 2021 which require immediate action. Your business needs to act now to comply with these new rules to ensure a continued flow of people, data, goods and services between the UK and the EU.
There are 6 key actions that many businesses need to take:
- Goods - if you import or export goods to the EU, you must get an EORI number, make customs declarations or employ an agent to do them for you, check if your goods require extra papers (like plant or animal products) and speak to the EU business you’re trading with to make sure they’re completing the right EU paperwork. There are also special rules that apply to Northern Ireland. Hauliers must obtain a Kent Access Permit and have a negative COVID test before they head to port in Kent.
- Services - if you deliver services to the EU, you must check whether your professional qualification is recognised by the appropriate EU regulator
- People - if you need to hire skilled staff from the EU, you must apply to become a licensed sponsor
- Travel - if you need to travel to the EU for business, you must check whether you need a visa or work permit
- Data - if your goods are protected by Intellectual Property (IP), you will need to check the new rules for parallel exporting IP protected goods from the UK to the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. You risk infringing on IP rights if you do not follow the new rules
- Accounting and reporting - if your business has a presence in the EU you may need to change how you undertake accounting and reporting to ensure compliance with the relevant requirements
These 6 key actions should act as a guide for every business affected by the new rules, with more detailed, personalised advice available through the checker tool on gov.uk/transition.
HM Government has issued documents listing the actions businesses must take to ensure they are compliant with the new rules.
Part A gives an overview of key actions for businesses as well as supporting guidance, helpline numbers and FAQs.
Part B lists the top five actions for businesses in each of the following sectors: Aerospace, automotive, chemicals, construction, consumer goods, electronics and machinery, life sciences, metals and materials, professional business services and retail.
Government advice and guidance
How business employers can take action to prepare for new rules from 1 January 2021
You can use the straightforward transition checker tool to identify the specific steps you need to take after 1 January 2021. You can also sign up to receive a regular Business Readiness Transition Bulletin providing information on major announcements and recently published guidance.
HMRC have posted a series of videos online that explain what businesses need to do to be ready for 1 January 2021.
Advice is also available in a number of specific areas including: food and drink, creative, cultural and sports, fisheries, veterinary services, exporting of horses and ponies, food standards, data protection, health and safety, intellectual property and meeting climate change requirements.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has also published advice on several key areas affecting businesses. Follow these links for support on: food labelling, exporting animals, animal products, fish and fishery products, importing animals, animal products, high-risk food and feed to the UK, exporting and importing fish, transporting endangered species, pesticides, importing and exporting plants and trading timber. Defra has also published a series of digital guides for food and drink businesses on preparing for the end of the transition period.
If you receive personal data from the EU/EEA, act now to ensure you can continue to lawfully receive data from your clients in the EU after 1 January 2021.
Employing and managing staff
Useful resources to help businesses understand the implications of leaving the EU on employing and managing staff include:
- The EU Settlement Scheme allows your employees and their close family members to continue to live and work in the UK after Brexit.
- Home Office guidance for EU, EEA and Swiss frontier workers who want to continue working in the UK.
You can use the Employer Toolkit to explain the scheme to your employees. It contains a range of ready to use leaflets and posters.
After 1 January 2021, you need to register as a licensed sponsor to hire eligible people from outside the UK. The Government has updated guidance, including a podcast, to explain how the way you hire employees from the EU is changing.
Exporting and Importing goods and services
- get an EORI number if you do not already have one, and
- decide how you want to make customs declarations and whether you need to get someone to deal with customs for you.
In preparation for the UK leaving the EU, if your business completes customs declarations, you could apply for grants to fund training, recruitment or IT improvements.
A range of information on selling services to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein from 1 January 2021 can be found on the gov.uk website.
If you're a haulier and move goods through a UK port that uses the Goods Vehicle Movement Service, you'll need to register for the service to get your goods through customs.
Advice and support available from other agencies
The Federation of Small Businesses' (FSB) Brexit Hub provides information and advice on how small businesses can prepare for Brexit.
The Institute of Directors’ (IoD) Navigating Brexit hub has news, fact sheets and blogs providing updates and expert analysis.
Make UK’s Leaving the EU Hub has information for manufacturing businesses including details of the Brexit courses that they are running across the UK.
You can go to the ICAEW’s Brexit Hub, to view their Brexit checklist as well as a range of information and advice.
The NFU have a Brexit Toolbox and Newsletter for members as well as a range of news and information for non-members.
The Agriculture and Development Food Board (ADHB) also has information and advice for farmers including a Brexit impact calculator, a resilience checklist and a Brexit toolkit.
CIPD has a Brexit HR Hub which provides news and updated resources to support employers to plan for Brexit.
Brexit support events
The Department for International Trade (DIT) has a range of webinars where businesses can:
- receive help and advice to sell overseas with confidence
- gain new skills and knowledge
- discover solutions to specific challenges to exporting
- get your exporting questions answered by the experts
You can also find out about DIT opportunities to attend 121 advice sessions, trade missions, training and workshops.
Sources of help and information
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