Local government and the EU

Guidance to help local councils adapt to new rules now that the UK has left the EU and the transition period has ended.

Applies to England

This page brings together key guidance and information to help local government adapt to new rules now that the UK has left the EU and the transition period has ended.

If you have any feedback on this page or would like to get in touch about the work you are doing locally on transition and new rules, please contact

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Draft Target Operating Model published

On the 5 April 2023, the Cabinet Office published the draft Border Target Operating Model, setting out a new approach to importing into Great Britain that will be progressively introduced from the end of October 2023.

The draft Border Target Operating Model proposes a new approach to security controls (applying to all imports), and sanitary and phytosanitary controls (applying to imports of live animals, animal products, plants and plants products) at the border. It sets out how controls will be simplified, digitised and, over time, delivered through the UK’s new Single Trade Window. The Model has been developed through engagement with stakeholders, collaboration across the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments, and engagement with officials from the devolved administration in Northern Ireland.

Stakeholders can provide feedback on the proposals before a final version is published in June, and can access the survey here.

Timeline for implementation

The government are proposing a phased approach to introduction of the new model driven by several factors: the need for effective management of biosecurity, public health, food safety and security risks; the need to give businesses sufficient time to prepare; the need to ensure supply chains have time to adapt and are not disrupted; and the speed at which we can work with stakeholders to build the systems and infrastructure required under the new model, including the roll-out of the UK Single Trade Window. The government will make any required changes to legislation to support delivery of the Target Operating Model when parliamentary time allows.

The government propose to implement the model through 3 major milestones:

  • 31 October 2023 - The introduction of health certification on imports of medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU.

  • 31 January 2024 - The introduction of documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU. At this point, imports of Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods from the rest of the world will begin to benefit from the Target Operating Model. Existing inspections of high-risk plants/plant products from the EU will move from destination to Border Control Points (BCPs).

  • 31 October 2024 - Safety and Security declarations for EU imports will come into force from 31 October 2024. Alongside this, we will introduce a reduced dataset for imports and use of the UK Single Trade Window will remove duplication where possible across different pre-arrival datasets – such as Safety and Security, Sanitary and Phytosanitary, and pre-lodged customs declarations.

A press release from the Cabinet Office provides further details following this publication.

Overview - local government and the EU

The government has published an overarching explainer which gives an overview of what the UK-EU free trade deal means in practice now the UK has left the EU.

The explainer also includes a broader guide to ‘life after Brexit’ with links to guidance on the range of actions businesses and citizens may need to take.

There is Brexit guidance for citizens and businesses to find out how Brexit rules apply to things like travelling, working, studying and doing business with Europe in or with EU countries.

UK exporters can also be directed to the Check How to Export Goods (CHEG) tool and a 60-second step-by-step explainer video on how to use the CHEG tool.

How to export goods from the UK: check how to export goods

A suite of webinars and videos for organisations that trade with the EU is also available. Topics include importing and exporting goods, moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and details of the government’s cross-border trade forum.

A toolkit for small and medium-sized enterprises (PDF, 788KB) trading with the EU and Northern Ireland to help them identify the decisions and actions they need to make to continue trading with the EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is also available.

New business support helplines have been set up to assist UK businesses with enquiries related to the new rules after Brexit. Businesses in need of support can call the Business Support Helpline, send an email, or get in touch by webchat.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has established an industry forum for all businesses within the agri-food supply chain and which move goods between Great Britain (GB) and Northern Ireland (NI). A registration of interest form is available, and those with any questions about the forum can email Defra:

A local communications toolkit which can support you with communicating with citizens and businesses now that the transition period is over and new rules are here is also available.

Access to public services

Children’s services, schools and education

The EU Settlement Scheme

The local authority introduction to the EU Settlement Scheme includes a number of useful resources for councils, including:

There are also specific resources on looked-after children and care leavers:

For EU citizens, children and their families:

Other resources are also available for applicants, including late applicants and vulnerable citizens:

A range of social media material including in different languages is also available to encourage those who are yet to apply.

Points based immigration system

A transcript of a podcast is available with information for employers to prepare for the UK’s points-based immigration system. This includes an explanation from a panel of experts in business and immigration about what the immigration system is and how employers can prepare.

Regulatory services

Food Standards Agency (FSA) updates for local authorities on the new rules can be found on FSA Smarter Communications.

Statutory instruments which have been laid and identified as having impacts on local authorities are listed on a separate page: EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 secondary legislation laid with impacts on local government. A full list of related secondary legislation can be found on the government legislation site.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a collection of digital assets for food and drink businesses working with the EU covering actions they may need to take now the UK has left the EU.

A suite of webinars and videos for importers of food and drink products from the EU to Great Britain is also available. Topics include registering for IPAFFs, submitting import notifications for live animal imports from the EU to Great Britain and tariffs and rules of origin for agri-food goods moving between the UK and EU.

A dedicated hotline and online service for UK exporters has been launched. UK business selling goods or services to Europe can contact the UK government export support team by phone or online. They can ask any question for their business, including on:

  • exporting to new markets
  • paperwork needed to sell goods abroad
  • rules for a specific country where they want to sell services

Retained EU Law

On 16 September, the government announced new plans to improve, repeal or reform EU laws. Under the plans, EU laws kept on the statute book after Brexit – known as Retained EU Law – will be improved or repealed if they do not benefit UK citizens and businesses.

The government is also setting out a package of individual regulatory reforms to laws inherited while a member of the EU, building on recommendations recently submitted to government by the Taskforce for Regulatory Reform, Innovation and Growth.

The then Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, Lord Frost, made a statement to the House of Lords on the new plans.

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 22 September 2022.

On the 22 September 2022, the government announced that all EU legislation will be amended, repealed, or replaced under the new Brexit Freedoms Bill introduced to Parliament, which will end the special legal status of all retained EU law by 31 December 2023. Many EU laws kept on after Brexit were agreed as part of a compromise between 28 different EU member states and were duplicated into the UK’s statute books.

The Bill will apply to the entirety of the UK, enabling joint working between the UK government and devolved administrations and will maintain all commitments to the international obligations required of the UK.

The Bill will abolish this special status and will enable the government, via Parliament, to amend more easily, repeal and replace retained EU Law. The Bill will also include a sunset date by which all remaining retained EU Law will either be repealed, or assimilated into UK domestic law. The sunset may be extended for specified pieces of retained EU Law until 2026.

Information for Food Competent Certifying Officers (FCCO)

A recorded webinar is available with information for certifiers (FCCOs) including details about Export Health Certificates (EHCs) and a demonstration of EHC Online – the digital service that businesses and certifiers will use to apply for and manage EHC applications.

Webinar with information for certifiers (FCCOs)

Internal operations

Council employees


The EU formally adopted ‘adequacy decisions’ for the UK, which allow for the ongoing free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK. In doing so, the EU has formally recognised the UK’s high data protection standards.

The decisions mean that UK businesses and organisations can continue to receive personal data from the EU/EEA without having to put additional arrangements in place with European counterparts.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is consulted on how organisations can continue to protect people’s personal data when it is transferred outside of the UK. The consultation closed on 11 October 2021.

Local elections

EU citizens who have been resident in the UK since before 31 December 2020 and have lawful status will retain their voting and candidacy rights.

For EU citizens who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020, voting and candidacy rights will be granted only to citizens of those countries with which the UK has voting rights agreements. These agreements will enable UK nationals living in those countries to vote in their local elections, and citizens from those nations living here to vote in our local elections.

For citizens of EU countries where there is no reciprocal agreement in place, they will no longer be able to vote or stand in local elections in England or Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Assembly elections, or Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England or Wales from the time these measures come into effect.

See Local voting rights for EU citizens living in the UK.

See also the written ministerial statement by the Minister of State for the Constitution and Devolution, on local elections and local voting rights for EU citizens living in the UK.


Subsidy control


Published 4 March 2021
Last updated 24 April 2023 + show all updates
  1. Page updated to include the publication and announcement of the draft Border Target Operating Model.

  2. Page updated to include the Retained EU Law Bill announcement and associated bill publications and link added to the Border Operating Model page.

  3. Amended the page to reflect the updated approach to import controls to help ease the cost of living.

  4. Updated the page to reflect the introduction of full customs declarations and controls on 1 January 2022. Added links to: Overview, The EU Settlement Scheme, Ports and borders, Regulatory services, Retained EU law, Local elections.

  5. Added links to: an overview of the UK-EU free trade, Defra industry forum registration of interest, letter from the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration to Directors for Children’s services, a policy paper on Local Voting Rights for EU Citizens Living in the UK, written ministerial statement (WMS) by Minister of State for the Constitution and Devolution, on local elections, guidance on the Movement Assistance Scheme: get help with moving agrifood goods to Northern Ireland. Data section updated to reflect the EU's formal adoption of 'adequacy decisions' for UK to allow free flow of data from EU/EEA to UK.

  6. Added links to Regulatory services, and a link to The EU Settlement Scheme.

  7. Added links to: introductory section, Upcoming key milestones, The EU Settlement Scheme, Regulatory services, Information for Food Competent Certifying Officers (FCCO), Internal Operations: Data.

  8. First published.