The UK has left the EU and new rules for business with the EU came into force on 1 January 2021. Even though a deal has been secured, doing business with Europe has changed. You need to follow new rules on exports, imports, tariffs, data and hiring.
Unless you have ensured that you are ready, your business may face disruption. You can find out which rules affect you and get personalised and prioritised actions for your business by using the Brexit Checker Tool at gov.uk/transition. EU companies that do business with the UK can also find personalised guidance by using the Brexit checker tool.
Here's what actions you need to take in order to keep your business moving:
Businesses that import and export goods
Check the new rules on importing and exporting goods between the EU and Great Britain. Different rules apply in Northern Ireland. To continue trading with the EU, you will need to follow new rules for importing and exporting, including changes to customs processes and licensing.
Before you attempt to move your goods, you will need to:
- Get ready to make customs declarations - these are now needed for all exports from the UK and if you’re importing controlled goods. If you import goods that are not controlled, you may be able to delay making your declarations for up to six months. There is a step-by-step guide to help with exports and a step-by-step guide to help with imports.
- Get expert help – it is recommended you get a contract in place as soon as you can with a customs intermediary like a freight forwarder or customs broker. This is especially important if you’re exporting or importing controlled goods, as you will not be able to delay your declarations.
- Make sure that you know how to classify your goods and how you will evidence their origin, your customs intermediary will also be able to help you ensure your goods are classified correctly. If you do not classify your goods correctly or if you do not accurately record the origin of the goods in your customs declaration, you may be charged the wrong amount of tax or duty.
If you choose not to hire an intermediary, you will need to do this yourself.
Businesses that move goods into, out of or through Northern Ireland
On 1st January the Northern Ireland Protocol came into force. There will be special provisions which only apply in Northern Ireland so if you move goods into, out of or through Northern Ireland make sure you check the latest Northern Ireland Protocol guidance available here.
If you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the free-to-use Trader Support Service will guide you through any changes linked to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Businesses that employ staff from the EU
The way you hire from the EU has changed. Freedom of movement between the EU and UK has ended and the UK has introduced a new points-based immigration system.
If you want to hire anyone from outside the UK’s resident labour market, you must be a Home Office licenced sponsor. This includes recruiting people from the EU. Anyone coming to the UK to work will need a job offer from a licenced sponsor in advance and will need to meet certain skills and salary criteria.
The new system doesn’t apply when hiring Irish citizens, or EU citizens eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Find out more at gov.uk/hiringfromtheEU.
Businesses that already employ EU citizens living in the UK
There are new requirements for EU citizens living and working in the UK.
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK before 31 December 2020 can apply with their family to the EU Settlement Scheme until 30 June 2021 to be able to continue living and working in the UK. There is an online tool that will let you know what you need to do and when.
Businesses that transfer data between the UK and the EU
Be prepared on data protection and data transfers. If your business or organisation receives personal data from the EU/EEA, you must check the current guidance on lawfully continuing to receive personal data such as names, addresses or payroll details from organisations in the EU or EEA. More information can be found here.
Business travellers may need to apply for a visa, work permit or other documentation before travelling to the EU / EEA / Switzerland. If you plan to stay longer than 90 days in a 180 day period or are carrying out activities not covered by a country’s visa-waiver list, you may need a visa, work permit or other documentation.
Whatever you are doing, we advise you to check the rules of the relevant Member State to find out if you need to apply. Business travel includes activities such as travelling for meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity), and touring art or music. Find out more here. There are also new rules on travel to Europe. Other things you may need to do before you travel include:
• Check the validity of your passport - you may need to renew it even if it is still in date. Use the passport checker tool.
• Check where your Global or European Health Insurance Card is valid and get travel insurance that covers your needs.
• Check you have the right driving documents - UK motorists are required to obtain a Green Card from their insurer and display a GB sticker on their vehicle.
• Check roaming policies with your mobile provider before travelling. For more information on travel to Europe, click here.
Businesses that deliver services between the UK and the EU
Make sure your EU-qualified staff can continue to provide professional services to clients in the UK by ensuring their professional qualification(s) are recognised by the relevant regulatory or professional body in the UK. Find out more here.
To continue to practise or service clients in the EU, you will need to ensure your UK qualifications are recognised by the relevant EU regulatory or professional body. You will need to do this even if you are providing short-term or occasional professional services. Where a qualification has already been recognised by the relevant regulator in the EEA or Switzerland, you should make sure you understand the terms of the recognition decision by checking with that regulator. Find out more here.
This list of actions is not comprehensive, so please make sure you check what actions are necessary in your specific case by using the checker tool at gov.uk/transition.