Prepare for new trading rules
Businesses in the UK should take action now to start preparing for new trading rules which will be in effect from January 2021.
The UK has left the EU, and the transition period comes to an end on the 31 December 2020. Prepare your business by checking the new rules that will apply from the 1 January 2021 and take action now.
Quick online survey
The online Check how to get ready for new rules in 2021 tool will guide you through a series of questions and provide you with a list of results to support you getting ready for the new rules. At the end of the survey, make sure you subscribe to the email updates on the results page to be notified about any new announcements and developments that may affect you.
Crucial steps for importers and exporters to take now
1. Ensure your company is registered for both imports and exports
Does your UK company have an EORI number that starts with GB?
From 1 January 2021 you will need an EORI number to move goods between the UK and the EU.
Apply for an EORI number. You should apply for this number in advance as it can take up to a week to get one.
2. Make sure the classification of your goods (tariff/commodity code) are correct
Use the Trade Tariff to look up commodity codes, duty and VAT rates and find out how to contact HMRC in order to get help with a commodity code and what information you will need to send them.
Ask HMRC for help to classifying your goods, or find out how to get a legally binding decision on the commodity code to use for your goods by applying for a Binding Tariff Information decision.
3. Be ready for the new customs paperwork
Regardless of whether a deal is reached between the UK and EU, import and export customs declarations with be required for the movement of goods as of 1 January 2021.
It is estimated that the number of customs declarations will increase from 50 million to 250 million. Exporters are urged to speak with their customs broker or import-export agent who acts on their behalf. This is to secure the service an exporter needs beyond the 31 December, or to look at setting up your business to make declarations internally.
HMRC has made funding of £50 million available to enhance its Customs Grant Scheme. Since the 29 July 2020, organisations have been able to apply for funding to reimburse a number of costs associated with increasing their capacity and enhancing their ability to complete customs declarations, ahead of the new rules from January 2021.
4. Check the new UK tariff for imported goods
From 1 January 2021, the UK will apply a UK-specific tariff to imported goods.
This UK Global Tariff (UKGT) will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff, which applies until 31 December 2020.
Check UK trade tariffs from 1 January 2021 that will apply to goods you import when the UK Global Tariff takes effect on the 1 January 2021.
As we approach the end of the Transition Period it is important that businesses involved in international trade use this time to prepare for life outside the EU, including new customs arrangements.
Sign up for the Trader Support Service
On 1 January 2021, the Northern Ireland Protocol comes into force. There will be changes to the way goods move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Trader Support Service is free to use and guides businesses through any changes to the way goods move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
For businesses that trade with Northern Ireland please sign up now.
Transition period webinars for businesses
Business Secretary Alok Sharma is encouraging businesses to sign up for a second phase of webinars targeting key issues, including personal data and regulations on manufactured goods. Please register for the following webinars:
Round up of latest news for businesses
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, announced a £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) to adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU. SMEs who trade only with the EU, and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes, will be encouraged to apply for grants of up to £2,000 for each trader to pay for practical support, including training and professional advice, to ensure they can continue trading effectively with the EU. The Fund will help businesses to prepare for the implementation of import controls which come into force from April and July 2021.
DIT has produced 60-second walkthrough videos for two online tools. Check How to Export Goods provides information for UK businesses that export goods out of the UK, while Trade with the UK provides information for international businesses that exports good into the UK.
HMRC webinars: HMRC is running a series of webinars for traders in the UK. The next sessions are: Trader responsibilities when using an intermediary, Importing-what you need to know about staged controls, and exporting-what you need to do to keep your goods moving. You can register for these webinars on the HMRC website.
Full details of the United Kingdom and European Union Trade and Cooperation Agreement have now been published.
The Cabinet Office's Border and Protocol Delivery Group have published the latest documents on the Border Operating Model.
Guidance on wood packaging materials (WPM): Businesses that import or export any goods using WPM (pallets, boxes, crates etc) or supply WPM to businesses will need to meet ISPM15 international standards from 1 January 2021. Without this, businesses will not be able to move them between GB and the EU.
Update to UK Global Tariff (UKGT): DIT has updated the UKGT guidance to clarify that the existing commodity code system will continue to apply from 1 January 2021 onwards.
The joint UK-EU Specialised Committee met at the end of October 2020 to reaffirm their commitment to implementing part three of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Department for International Trade
DIT and FCDO are hosting a webinar on the UK Generalised Scheme of Preferences. The webinar is targeted at businesses with an interest in importing goods from least developed countries.
The Department for International Trade has published new information on:
- Online service to find commodity codes for products being importing into the UK
- Online service to find commodity codes for exporting
- The UK and Mexico Trade Continuity Agreement
- The UK and Egypt Association Agreement
- The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
- Exporting and importing from 1 January 2021
They have also published updated guidance on:
- Trade remedies - the EU imposed an anti-dumping measure on Steel Road Wheels
- Trading with the UK from 1 January 2021 (guidance in Dutch)
Department for Transport
Guidance on import licences and export licences for 2021 has been updated, including guidance on how to comply with REACH chemical regulations from 1 January 2021.
DEFRA has uploaded recordings of their recent webinars for exporters of animals and products of animal origin to the EU.
In addition, DEFRA has published updated guidance for:
- Trading CITES-listed specimens through UK ports and airports
- Exporting or moving fish to the EU or NI
- Exporting or moving composite food products to the EU or NI
- Importing animals, animal products and high-risk feed and food not of animal origin (guidance on documents to transport live animals)
- Exporting live animals and animal products to the EU (documents to transport live animals)
- Export groups of products of animal origin to the EU from 1 January 2021
- Importing and exporting plants and plant products from 1 January 2021(advanced notifications for all regulated consignments to the UK)
- Importing and exporting wine from 1 January 2021 (including labelling imported wine)
DEFRA has also released updated guidance on labelling and marketing standards for the following areas:
- Trading and labelling organic food from 1 January 2021 (importing organics)
- Fresh fruit and vegetable marketing (importing and exporting with the UK)
- Beef and veal marketing standards
- Poultry meat marketing standards (importing and exporting with the UK)
- Egg marketing standards (importing and exporting with the UK)
- Hops and hops products marketing standards (moving products between the UK and other countries)
HMRC has published guidance on applying for grants for recruitment, training and IT improvements if businesses complete customs declarations. In addition, the following information has been updated:
- Moving qualifying goods from NI to the rest of the UK
- Declaring goods from NI not at risk of moving to EU
- Register to make an entry summary declaration in Great Britain
- List of ports using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service
- Brexit transition communications resources including Travellers Communication Pack
- UK Trader Scheme to support businesses moving foods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland
- List of customs agents and fast parcel operators
- Draft and final notices to be made under the Customs Regulations
Other relevant guidance
- Intellectual Property Office has published guidance on supplementary protection certificates
- BEIS has issued guidance on using the UKNI marking from 1 January 2021
- The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has issued guidance on variations to Marketing Authorisations (MAs) from 2021, as well as renewing MAs
- The Veterinary Medicines Directorate has published guidance on veterinary medicinal products placed on the EU and UK markets before 1 January 2021
Please visit the GOV.UK website for the latest updates on webinars for businesses.
Resources for businesses
- Businesses can submit queries, both domestic and international via the Great Gov UK website and Great Gov UK International website
- For UK businesses visit the UK/transition page
- For EU businesses visit the UK/eubusiness
- Sign up to BEIS’ Transition Business and Employer Bulletin