Keep your business moving
New rules are here
New rules from 1 January 2021.
The UK left the EU on the 31 January 2020 and the transition period, which allowed the exisiting rules on trade, travel, and business to continue whilst the UK and EU negotiated a new relationship, ended on the 31 December 2020.
Doing business with Europe has changed and you need to follow new rules from 1 January 2021 on exports, imports, tariffs, data and hiring. To find the latest guidance and information, please go to gov.uk/transition.
You can keep your business moving by:
Unless you take action, there is a risk your business operations will be interrupted. You should also check with your suppliers and customers that they are taking action.
Six key actions to take:
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.
If you deliver services to the EU, you must check whether your professional qualification is recognised by the appropriate EU regulator
If you need to hire skilled staff from the EU, you must apply to become a licensed sponsor
If you need to travel to the EU for business, you must check whether you need a visa or work permit
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
More detailed, personalised advice is available through the Brexit checker tool on GOV.UK.
On Demand Videos
The Government has launched a series of new, on demand videos to help businesses familiarise themselves with the new rules. Topics include importing and exporting, trade, Rules of origin, tariffs, data, and audit and accounting.
Businesses can select which videos to view from the list, or can choose their sector and see videos that are recommended for them.
Many actions related to EU exit needed to have been taken regardless of the outcome of negotiations, and are therefore unaffected by the trade deal the UK has negotiated with the EU. However, in some areas, such as tariffs and audit and accounting, there is new guidance that businesses will need to familiarise themselves with.
Business Support Helpline
The Government has set up a helpline to help you identify the actions you need to take. Please call 0800 998 1098. Please see the Business Support Helpline for more information, including opening hours.
The following information is currently being reviewed, following the end of the transition period. For the latest information, see gov.uk/transition.
Make sure you're ready
Businesses need to prepare now for EU trade on the same terms as the rest of the world. There will be new rules in many areas. For example, if you have a business, travel to Europe or sell your goods abroad.
Transition Checker Tool
Use the Government's transition checker tool to answer some questions and get a personalised list of what you need to do:
Trade and Industry Forum
A new forum has also been set up to help businesses and traders find answers to questions regarding the transition period, please see:
Trading with the EU
Learn more about trading with the EU from 1 January 2021:
Register and watch sector-specific webinars about how to prepare your business for new rules from 1 January 2021:
Food and Drink Sector
Defra has launched a new digital guide (20 November) covering the key actions food and drink businesses may need to take after the end of the transition period (from 1 January 2021): Food and Drink Sector Digital Guide.
Changes for busineses and citizens
Government Letters to Businesses
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
The Business Secretary has written (18 November) to a wide range of sectors about actions they need to take from 1 January 2021:
HM Revenue and Customs
HMRC has sent letters to all VAT-registered businesses in Great Britain trading with the EU, or the EU and the rest of the world:
The letter explains what businesses need to do to prepare for new processes for moving goods between Great Britain and the EU from 1 January 2021, including:
Get Border Ready
On 12 June 2020, the government announced the approach to border controls on GB-EU trade in 2021 and it formally notified the EU that it will not accept or seek an extension to the Transition Period.
In recognition of the unprecedented impact that coronavirus has had, border controls are being introduced in stages, to give businesses more time to prepare. The stages are:
- From January 2021: Traders importing standard goods will need to prepare for basic customs requirements and will have up to six months to complete customs declarations. Tariff payments can be deferred until the customs declaration has been made. Traders moving controlled goods such as tobacco and toxic chemicals will be required to complete a customs declaration. Businesses will also need to consider how they account for VAT on imported goods. There will also be physical checks at the point of destination on all high-risk live animals and a proportion of low-risk live animals.
- From April 2021: All products of animal origin (POAO) and all regulated plants and plant products will also require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation.
- From July 2021: Traders moving all goods will have to make declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant tariffs. Full Safety and Security declarations will be required, while for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) commodities there will be an increase in physical checks and the taking of samples.
This approach does not apply to the flow of trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and GB.
Moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021
The Northern Ireland Protocol will take effect from 1 January 2021. New guidance provides support for businesses engaging in new processes under the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Apply for grants if your business completes customs declarations
Businesses can apply for three grants to help their business complete customs declarations. They can apply to get funding for:
- training that helps a business to complete customs declarations and processes;
- hiring new staff to help their business complete customs declarations;
- IT improvements to help their business complete customs declarations more efficiently.
More information on the scheme and how to apply is available from HMRC.
Find customs agents and fast parcel operators from 1 January 2021
HMRC maintains a list of customs agents and fast parcel operators who can help submit customs declarations from 1 January 2021.
The Government is opening information and advice sites across the UK to prepare hauliers for the end of the transition period. The sites will offer hauliers one-to-one training on the new procedures coming into place, with support available in 13 different languages.
A Haulier Handbook has also been published. The handbook, which will also be translated into 13 different languages, acts as a one-stop-shop to provide key information and advice on customs procedures, clearly setting out how hauliers can prepare themselves, their vehicles and their goods to continue travelling smoothly across the GB-EU border and help minimise disruption.
EU Settlement Scheme: Introduction for Employers
Learn about how you as an employer can support EU citizens and non-EU citizen family members apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS):
Further information on local support available to help apply to the scheme can be found on our EU Settlement Scheme page.
Points-Based Immigration System: Employers Information
The Home Office has updated (20 August) its guidance on the Points based Immigration System for employers. The guidance document outlines the process of becoming a licensed sponsor, explains the points system and suggests alternative routes for potential employees (e.g. Start-up and Innovator routes, Sports routes, short term Creative routes). There are also two new video explainers on Hiring people from outside the UK and Sponsoring a skilled worker.
From 1 January 2021, if a business wants to recruit anyone from outside the UK, they must be a Home Office licensed sponsor. It is recommended that business apply to be a UK visa sponsor now.
Employers can sign up to receive email updates on the new immigration system.
Podcast: Business and the Future of Immigration in 2021
The Home Office has created a podcast episode in partnership with Intelligence Squared to help you prepare for the points-based immigration system. Listen now to Business and the Future of Immigration in 2021. Also available on Spotify and Apple.
Although the UK has left the EU businesses will continue to get any EU funding they’ve already been awarded. This includes funding they are due to get after 31 December 2020. Businesses can still apply for EU funding under the current spending framework. The deadline will depend on which fund a business applied to. Some funds will still take applications under the current framework during 2021. It has not yet been decided what funding UK organisations will be able to apply for after the spending framework ends. Find out more: Getting EU Funding.
Business Readiness Bulletin
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy publishes a business readiness bulletin providing important information to help businesses prepare for the end of the transition period. You can subscribe to receive the email updates directly. After adding your email address click add subscriptions, tick the Transition bulletin box and then click next.
Health and Safety Executive
Subscribe for free email newsletters and notifications relating to Brexit, including latest updates on: chemicals, regulating explosives and regulating work equipment and machinery.