Guidance

Selling services to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein after Brexit

Guidance for UK businesses offering services if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

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The UK will leave the EU on 31 October. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit. It will be updated if anything changes, including if a deal is agreed.

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Overview

The UK will no longer operate under the European Economic Area (EEA) regulations for the cross-border trade in services if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

This means that the rights and protections provided by the EU Directives and EU Treaty rights of freedom of movement and freedom of establishment will no longer apply to the UK.

UK businesses will no longer be treated as if they were local businesses. Services provided by UK businesses and professionals will be regarded as originating from a ‘third country’.

UK firms and service providers may face additional legal, regulatory and administrative barriers as a result.

Trade regulations

If you’re a UK business or professional providing services in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you’ll need to check the national regulations of the country you’re doing business in to understand how best to operate.

See the selling services guides to each country for more information.

VAT on sales of digital services

Businesses can use the UK’s VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) to declare sales of digital services to EU consumers made before the UK’s exit from the EU.

If you wish to continue to use MOSS after the UK leaves the EU, you will need to register for MOSS in an EU member state.

Find out more about paying VAT on sales of digital services.

Establishing and structuring your business

If you have a UK business, you might face restrictions on your ability to own, manage or direct a company registered in an EEA country or Switzerland after a no-deal Brexit.

You should be prepared for:

  • additional requirements on the nationality or residency of senior managers or directors
  • limits on the amount of equity that can be held by non-nationals

UK companies and limited liability partnerships that have their central administration or principal place of business in certain EU member states may no longer have their limited liability recognised.

Sector-specific information

If you’re a UK citizen with questions about your legal position in any sector, you should:

  • get professional advice
  • contact the government of the EEA country where you own, manage or direct a company for more information

Auditors

You may need to restructure the ownership and management of your audit firm if it is based in the European Economic Area.

After a no-deal Brexit, for audit firms established and approved in EEA states under the Audit Directive, a majority of the ownership and management bodies must be ‘qualified persons’.

After a no-deal Brexit, ‘qualified persons’ will not include UK-qualified auditors or UK-registered firms. The definition will continue to continue to include EEA-qualified auditors and EEA-registered audit firms.

Business travel and entry requirements

You can read advice about travelling to specific countries, including travel entry requirements and how to stay safe while you’re there.

To find out more about going abroad for work, check the guidance for travellers visiting the EU.

Social security payments for employees

If you’re sending employees to the EEA, they may need to make social security contributions in both the UK and the country in which they are working.

Find out when you will need to pay social security contributions in the UK, EU, EEA countries and Switzerland.

Recognition of professional qualifications

You’ll need to have your UK professional qualification officially recognised if you want to work in a profession that is regulated in the EEA or Switzerland. It will need to be recognised by the appropriate regulator for your profession in each country where you intend to work. You’ll need to do this even if you’re providing temporary or occasional professional services.

Professionals already working in an EEA country or Switzerland

You don’t have to do anything if your qualification has already been officially recognised by the relevant regulator in an EEA country or Switzerland. The regulator’s decision to recognise your qualification will remain valid after the UK leaves the EU.

Start working in an EEA country or Switzerland

Check the European Commission’s Regulated Professions Database (REGPROF) to find out if your profession is regulated. Then contact the single point of contact for each EEA country, to find out how to get your professional qualification recognised.

You can find out more information about individual countries in the selling services country guides.

Lawyers and auditors

There are different rules if you’re a lawyer or an auditor.

Find out what to do if you’re an auditor

Find out what to do if you’re a lawyer

You can find out more information about individual countries in the selling services country guides.

Data transfer and GDPR

UK businesses may need to make changes if they operate across the EEA or exchange personal data with partners in the EEA.

You do not need to take action to keep sending personal data from the UK to the EEA (or the 13 countries deemed ‘adequate’ by the EU) after Brexit.

You should read the available guidance and consider what additional GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) safeguards must be put in place if you receive personal data transfers in the UK from an EEA country.

Read guidance on using personal data after Brexit to find out if you should take action.

All companies should review privacy information and internal documentation to identify any details that will need updating when the UK leaves the EU.

Lead supervisory authority

You may need to deal with a lead supervisory authority in the EEA after Brexit. You should check which European data protection regulator will be your lead supervisory authority. Find details for each country.

Appointing a European representative

You may need to appoint a suitable person to act as your local representative with individuals and data protection authorities in the EEA after a no-deal Brexit. This is to comply with EU data protection rules.

Read guidance on European representatives on the ICO website to find out if you should take action.

Published 17 June 2019
Last updated 14 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Update to 'Business travel and entry requirements' section
  2. First published.