As the UK has left the EU and the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, we are bringing together the information you and your business need to prepare for the changes ahead. The situation is dynamic as negotiations on our future trading agreements have not yet concluded, but there are steps you can take now to prepare for 1 January 2021.
Importing goods from the EU
Regardless of the trade deal struck by the government, the process for importing goods from the EU will change. To continue to import goods, other than by post, current government guidance indicates that you will need to:
- Make customs declarations when you import goods, yourself or hire a courier, freight forwarder or customs agent to do it for you
- Check what import licences or certificates you need, check the marking, labelling and marketing standards and check the rules for importing alcohol, tobacco and certain oils
- Make sure you have a GB EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number. It must start with GB. If you have one already and it doesn’t start with GB, you will need to get a new one
- Check the rate of customs duty and VAT you will need to pay
- Check if you can make the importing process quicker. Instead of making customs declarations when you import goods from the EU, in some situations you can delay making a declaration for up to 6 months after you import the goods. More details here
Exporting goods to the EU
Again, regardless of the trade deal struck by the government, the process for exporting goods to the EU will change. To continue to import goods, other than by post, current government guidance indicates that you will need to:
- Make customs declarations when you export goods, yourself or hire a courier, freight forwarder or customs agent to do it for you
- Check what export licences or certificates you need, check the marking, labelling and marketing standards and check the rules for exporting alcohol, tobacco and certain oils
Make sure you have a GB EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number. It must start with GB. If you have one already and it doesn’t start with GB, you will need to get a new one
- Find out if you can charge VAT at 0%. From 1 January 2021 you can charge customers VAT at 0% on most goods you export to the EU, but you will need to check government guidance for details. See guidance on VAT notice 703
Travel to the EU (excluding Ireland), Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein from 1 January 2021:
- Your passport must have at least 6 months before it expires and be less than 10 years old
- You will need appropriate travel insurance including healthcare cover as your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid after 31 December 2020
- Border control may require you to show return or onward ticket, that you have funds for your stay and use separate queueing lanes
- Visa’s should not be necessary for short tourist trips but may be needed for longer trips, if you work, study or travel for business
- Extra documents may be needed to drive from 1 January 2021 – possibly an International Driving Permit (IDP), and if you are taking your own vehicle you may need a green card, proof of insurance and a GB sticker
Update 8 October 2020:
The government has published an update on how the GB-EU border will work and actions to be taken to prepare for the end of the transition period.
The Border Operating Model (BOM) affects traders, hauliers and passengers and will be in place regardless of whether the UK reaches a trading agreement with the EU.
The GB-EU Border Operating Model:
- Maps out the intended sites required to carry out checks on freight
- Announces that passports will be required for entry into the UK from October 2021, as EU, EEA and Swiss national ID cards will not be acceptable for travel to the UK, including for drivers from October 2021
- Confirms that HGV’s will require a mandatory Kent Access Permit to use the short strait channel crossings in Kent. The “Check an HGV” service will allow hauliers to check if they have the correct customs documentation and obtain a Kent Access Permit
Update 22 October 2020:
Negotiations continue regarding the shape of our trading agreement with the EU post 31 Dec 2020. The government is clear that “it is entirely possible that negotiations will not succeed. If so the UK will end the transition period on Australia terms.” Regardless of the outcome, businesses will need to make sure they are prepared for the changes in procedures at our borders on the 1 Jan 2021.
Update 5 November 2020:
HMRC stresses the key actions that businesses must take to continue trading with Europe from 1 Jan 2021 are :
- Appoint a specialist to deal with import and export declarations. This is important regardless of the amount or value of trade your business does with Europe. Most businesses use a third party such as a freight forwarder or fast parcel operator to deal with this, and do not do their customs declarations themselves.
- Check to see if you will be able to delay your declarations or duty payments.
- Register for the free-to-use Trader Support Service if you plan on moving goods into Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.
More help and advice on preparing for the end of the transition period is available from the Government’s Transition website. Please visit www.gov.uk/transition.
Please note that as the UK has yet to conclude its trade agreement negotiations with the EU post 31 December 2020, the information given is subject to change. Please check current government guidance before taking any action based upon the content of this page.