Brexit uncertainty continues - but here are ten things we do know

16.12.2020
Paul Briddon
Brexit, News

In the latest of our series of weekly Brexit Blogs, Paul Briddon of Lovewell Blake says that even though the outcome of trade talks is uncertain, there are things that we already know about business life after 1 st January.

With just two weeks to go before the end of the transition period, and at the time of writing the trade talks still rumbling on, businesses remain in the dark about whether there will be a deal or not.  Many firms may have found the government’s recent publicity campaign urging them to prepare for 1st January as frustrating as it was informative, given the level of uncertainty. 

That said whether a last-minute deal gets over the line or not, there is already much that we do know about the post-Brexit world.  So here are ten certainties which all businesses can work with while they wait for the politicians to provide final clarity.

1. Importers and exporters will have to make customs declarations, just as if they were trading with countries elsewhere in the world.HMRC estimates this will add around £7.5 billion in costs to British businesses.

2. Business importing or exporting goods to or from the EU will require an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number that starts with GB.In theory this is still possible to achieve before the end of the year, but only if you act fast.

3. To import or export certain products, including plants, live animals and some foods, businesses will require special licences and certificates.

4. For imports (but not exports), the imposition of full controls on goods entering the UK from the EU will not occur until 1st July 2021 – although there will still be checks for controlled goods.

5. For consignments with a value of less than £135, import VAT will no longer be applicable; instead, the seller must charge UK VAT, and will therefore need to be registered with HMRC and account for UK VAT.

6. Except where existing EU trade agreements have been rolled over, exports to non-EU countries which are currently covered by those existing EU trade deals will be covered by World Trade Organisation ‘Most Favoured Nation’ rules, which may mean that tariffs are payable.

7. Businesses selling goods which currently require a CE certification mark will need to replace the CE mark with the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) mark where those goods are sold in England, Scotland and Wales.However, there is a longer transition period for this change, so goods with a CE mark may still be sold until 1st January 2022, provided they meet EU requirements.

8. New rules will apply to business travel.Passports will have to have at least six months left until expiry.We don’t yet know if visas will be required for business travel, but it seems likely.

9. You may continue to employ existing staff members who are EU citizens, provided they apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30th June 2021.If you recruit EU citizens after 1st January, you will need to be an approved sponsor (application typically takes eight weeks).

10. New rules will apply for businesses which hold data on EU citizens who are customers or suppliers; however, the same GDPR protections and requirements will continue to apply after 1st January.

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