Trading with the EU

November 23rd 2020

(from January 1 2021)

There are a number of changes for a business that wishes to trade with the EU after the 1st of January 2021, and failure to comply with these procedures will result in the disability to import or export goods.

These changes will mainly affect 5 areas: trade, goods, services, people and data.

If you wish to export and import with the EU then the first thing businesses should do is make sure that they have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number (EORI) that starts with the letters GB. All businesses that wish to move goods in or out of the UK are required to have this. A business should receive their EORI number within one week of application and it only takes 10 minutes to apply.

(N.B If you are already a VAT registered business then you were already automatically enrolled and given an EORI so check whether you already have one before applying! Businesses can find out more information at )

From 1 January 2021, businesses wishing to trade with the EU will need to make customs declarations when exporting goods. Although it is possible to make declarations yourself, most businesses use a courier, customs agent or freight forwarder.

Businesses should also check to see if any of the goods that they wish to import or export require licence, like chemicals or food, and then apply for what they need.

There will also be physical checks at the point of destination on all high-risk animals and plants; however, UK Safety and Security declarations will not be required on imports for the first 6 months.

Businesses are also going to have to consider how they account for and pay VAT on imports.

There is a lot to take in as we come to the end of the Brexit transition period, with more changes coming into force in April and July 2021. For more information and support for preparing your business for the end of the transition, see the government website. This is an online tool that asks you a series of questions before identifying what actions your business needs to take to be ready for the changes in 2021. Negotiations are still taking place between the UK and the EU, so the guidance is constantly changing, making it important that businesses stay up to date on any changes by signing up to email alerts.

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