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Get ready for the UK & EU Transition on 1st January 2021

Updated: Nov 4

Is your business ready to leave the EU in January 2021?


If your business deals with the EU, then you will have to follow new rules as of January 2021.

Whether you are importing or exporting goods from the UK this will apply to your business and getting ready for the changes may take longer that you expect.

With reminders coming thick and fast from the government to get ready we have outlined everything that you need to know so your business can be ready for the new year and new changes ahead.


First of all you can use the following link to the government website and fill out a questionnaire that will provide your business with a personalised list of actions: https://www.gov.uk/transition.


The questions don’t take long to answer, and this is a great way to identify actions that you need to take in order to prepare.



If you are importing from the EU, then you will need to consider the following points:

Find out how to declare goods from 1st January 2021 and check the new rules for your type of goods.

You will need to make customs declarations when you import goods from the EU. These rules currently apply to importing goods from the rest of the word, including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

Most businesses use an agent to do this for them, but you can make the declarations yourself. When it comes to checking the new rules for your type of goods this will include checking import licences and certificates, marking, labelling and marketing standards for food, plants seeds and manufactured goods and the rules for importing alcohol, tobacco and certain oils.

Make sure you have an EORI number starting with GB.

You can do this on the government website here.

Check the rate of tax & duty.

From 1st January 2021 a UK Global Tariff will apply to the goods that you import. You can check this as well the difference between what you pay now and what you will pay as of Jan 2021 by using this link.

Check if you can make the importing process any quicker.

You may be able to do this by delaying your customs declaration for up to 6 months after you imported goods. This is possible if you import goods that were in EU free circulation into Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) free circulation between 1 January and 30 June 2021 and the goods are not controlled.

If you are exporting to the EU, then you will need to follow these actions:

Find out how to declare goods from 1st January 2021 and check the new rules for your type of goods.

You will need to make customs declarations when you export goods from the EU. These rules currently apply to exporting goods to the rest of the word, including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

Most businesses use an agent to do this for them, but you can make the declarations yourself. When it comes to checking the new rules for your type of goods this will include checking licences and certificates, marking, labelling and marketing standards for food, plants seeds and manufactured goods and new rules for importing alcohol, tobacco and certain oils.

Find out if you can charge 0% VAT.

From 1 January 2021, you can charge customers VAT at 0% (known as 'zero rate') on most goods you export to the EU. To find out if you can do this use the link here.

Check if the EU business you are exporting to is ready.

The EU business importing your goods will also need to prepare for 1 January 2021, so before sending the business your goods, check they can make the necessary import customs declarations. They will also need a licence or certificate to import some types of goods.

We would also recommend considering the following points in the next couple of months to make sure you are ready:

Perform a supply chain audit.

The first step for this is to make sure you speak to all of your suppliers and service providers about their plans for Brexit. Are they stockpiling to cover any delays at the borders?

Familiarise yourself with all your contracts. Do you know what will happen if certain clauses get activated, and will they work in your favour?

Find out if anyone in your supply chain will be putting their prices up to cover additional Brexit costs and where any links in the supply chain are found to be ill-prepared, consider looking for alternate suppliers.

Make sure your employees are secure in the new Brexit rules.

Any UK-based employees who are citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, must register for settled status to continue living and working in the UK six months after the end of the transition period on June 31 2021. A new points-based system for sponsored workers will be coming into effect from January 1 2021. This will cover EU and non-EU migrants alike.

It is critical that you check to see if all your staff can continue to live and work legally in Europe post-Brexit. We will be covering this topic in our next blog so please do keep an eye for our next post.


Consider how you will safeguard your cash flow and finances.

Additional stockpiling and storage costs to cover potential delays at the borders as the UK gets to grips with life after Brexit, new tariffs, price increases and currency fluctuations could all make a big dent in your finances so try to take this into consideration now for your 2021 financial forecast.

Data protection.

Currently most UK regulations are recognised within the EU and vice versa. The UK is now creating a new set of regulations to operate in parallel with the EU, but there is no guarantee that they will all be ready in time or that the EU will accept them all. These regulations cover every industry, even down to the classification of organic foods.


Even if you don’t transfer data to and from the EU, review where your data is stored. You may discover that your third-party cloud computing supplier hosts your data in the EEA.

If this is the case, move your data to the UK during the transition period. You don’t want your data to be stuck in a data no-man’s land in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Assess which regulations impacting your business could change: industry bodies are a good starting point.

Contracts and other paperwork may need to be revised post-Brexit. Assess whether your privacy rules, terms and conditions, contracts and other documentation need revising to reflect post-Brexit data protection laws and other regulations.

Look to new marketing opportunities.

With everything that has happened throughout 2020 it is highly likely that this is already something you have considered in a lot of detail.

Brexit may cause some businesses to shift their focus from EU business. If your trade could be negatively impacted by Brexit, investigate expanding into new markets outside of the EU.

With all that said, it is extremely important that you safeguard and future proof your business and employees as soon as possible in preparation for 1st January 2021.


Please keep an eye out for our next blog in November where we will cover what you need to do to if employing EU workers.


In the meantime, if you would like any help or guidance in relation to your HR then please don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing help@whitcombehr.co.uk.

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