Your business may need to make changes before the UK leaves the EU.
Visit Get ready for Brexit to find more detailed guidance on policy changes relevant to your sector.
Importing and exporting
Preparing for disruption to trade at the UK-EU border
Get a UK EORI number (this starts with GB) so you can continue to import or export goods and apply for authorisations that will make customs processes easier for you.
Decide if you want to hire an import-export agent, or make the declarations yourself.
Contact the organisation that moves your goods (for example, a haulage firm) to find out what information they need to make the declarations for your goods, or if you will need to make them yourself.
Read the guidance on simplified customs procedures for trading with the EU if we leave without a deal.
Further information is provided in HMRC’s advice for businesses trading with the EU.
Preparing to move goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland will face different procedures compared to other UK-EU trade. This approach will apply until longer-term arrangements are made.
Exporting controlled goods
You will need a new export licence if you are exporting dual-use items from the UK to the EU or the Channel Islands.
- Register on the online export licensing system (SPIRE).
- Check how to apply to use the Open General Export Licence.
This new export licence will remove the need for you to apply for individual licences. You can use it immediately after the UK leaves the EU.
Preparing for changes to existing trade agreements
Check the way you currently trade with non-EU countries. When the UK leaves the EU the way you access existing favourable arrangements with these countries may change. Changes may be different for each country.
Read the guidance on changes to trading with non-EU countries that have a free trade agreement with the EU.
Preparing for changes to import tariffs
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK would implement a temporary tariff regime. This would apply for up to 12 months while a full consultation, and review on a permanent approach, is undertaken.
Under the temporary tariff regime the majority of UK imports would be tariff-free.
In certain sectors, tariffs would be maintained to support the most sensitive agricultural industries, the automotive sector, vulnerable industries exposed to unfair global competition, and to maintain the UK government’s commitment to developing countries.
Regulation and standards
Recognising harmonised goods
After the UK leaves the EU the results of conformity assessment carried out by UK conformity assessment bodies will no longer be recognised in the EU.
This means you must get your products assessed and marked by an EU recognised conformity assessment body if you want to sell them in the EU. You could also arrange for assessments to be transferred to an EU-recognised body before the UK leaves the EU.
You will still be able to use CE marking based on self-declaration of conformity, including when exporting to the EU.
If your business manufactures goods that fall under the Machinery Directive, you will need to identify a person in the EU who is authorised to compile the technical file. Their name and address should appear on the product’s declaration of conformity when you are exporting to the EU.
Further information is available in the guidance on UK product safety and metrology if there’s no deal.
Importing or using chemicals
If you use or import chemicals then you will need to check whether you have new obligations under UK REACH (the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation).
For example, if you currently purchase a chemical substance directly from an EU/EEA supplier, you must make sure any substances you purchase are covered by a valid UK REACH registration by someone within your supply chain. Otherwise, in order to remain compliant you will need to register as an ‘importer’. To do so, you must:
- open an account on REACH IT once it is established and provide initial information on your registration within 180 days of the UK leaving the EU
- provide full technical information on your registration within 2 years of the UK leaving the EU.
Ensure you can continue to manufacture and export chemical products
There may also be new actions you need to take if you manufacture or export chemicals. Further information is provided on the HSE website.
Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens
Right to work checks
You should continue to carry out the same right to work checks on all EU/EEA and Swiss citizens, by using their passport or national identity card, until January 2021.
You will not need to distinguish between EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who were resident in the UK before or after the UK leaves the EU.
EU/EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK before the UK leaves the EU
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who are resident in the UK before the UK leaves the EU will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to get settled or pre-settled status. This will mean they can continue to live, work and study in the UK.
EU/EEA and Swiss citizens must apply by 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
You can use the EU Settlement Scheme guidance for employers to give further information to your employees.
EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who arrive in the UK after the UK leaves the EU
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving in the UK from Exit Day to 31 December 2020 can continue to come to the UK, to live, work and study without applying for a visa in advance.
After free movement ends, if they want to stay for longer than 3 months, they can read the guidance on staying in the UK to find out what they’ll need to do.
Irish citizens can continue to live, work and study in the UK, just as before.
From 1 January 2021, a new skills-based immigration system will launch.
For non-EU nationals, Brexit will not affect the application process for work visas.
Check the guidance for travellers visiting the EU to find out what you need to do when going abroad for work.