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The UK has left the European Union. Whatever the outcome of ongoing talks, the way we trade with EU countries will change from 1 January 2021.


To help businesses prepare to trade with the EU from 2021 onwards the government has created a checker tool. It is accessible via gov.uk/transition.

New relationship to trade with the EU

Essentially, the tool aims to help businesses prepare for a new relationship to trade with the EU. The main focus is on life outside of the Single Market and Customs Union.


Declaration, new rules, duties and VAT

Along with guidance on how to declare goods, the tool highlights new rules for importing and exporting. It explains why it’s vital to have a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. There is information on customs duties on imports and the VAT rules concerning imports and exports. You will also find advice on how to make the importing process quicker.


Transition period

The transition period ends on 31 December 2020, when the UK leaves the Single Market and Customs Union. There will be no extension.


Import processes and customs declarations for non-controlled goods can be delayed until 30 June 2021. However, from 1 January 2021 the UK will operate a full external border with the EU for importing and exporting goods categorised as ‘controlled’.

Other changes

Trade with the EU is not the only area of business life that will change. From 1 January 2021 employers face a different process for hiring workers from the EU. The provision of services in EU markets is also affected.


Recommended actions

To be ready in time, the government is advising businesses to:

  • access the checker tool at uk/transition
  • plan what actions to take
  • sign up with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for updates
  • sign upto attend free BEIS webinars for additional support


VAT registered businesses

In a further show of support HM Revenue & Customs is writing to VAT registered businesses in Great Britain which trade with the EU and/or the rest of the world.


These businesses are being advised to:


  • make sure they have a UK EORI number
  • decide how they will make their customs declarations
  • check if their imported goods are eligible for staged import controls
  • check if import VAT is due at the border
  • decide how they will account for import VAT when making a customs declaration
  • check the UK global tariff list
  • sign up for the new Trader Support Service – if you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland or bring goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK


Details are available on HMRC site.

Business interruption

The way UK firms do business with the EU will alter. That’s why you need to act now.

Otherwise, there is a real risk your business operation will be disrupted. It’s also a good idea to check in with suppliers and customers to see how they are tackling the challenge.


For advice on making sure your business is ready to trade with the EU from 1 January 2021, call us on 01785 243276.