Guidance

The professional and business services sector and preparing for Brexit

Your business may need to make changes before the UK leaves the EU.

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A Brexit deal has been agreed but needs to be ratified. The UK could still leave with no deal on 31 October 2019 if the UK and EU do not approve and sign the withdrawal agreement.

This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit. Sign up for email alerts to get the latest information.

Visit Get ready for Brexit to find more detailed guidance on policy changes relevant to your sector.

Regulation and standards

Providing services to EEA and EFTA countries

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK will no longer operate under the European Economic Area (EEA) regulations for the cross-border trade in services.

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, and UK businesses and professionals providing services in the EEA 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.

Read the guidance on providing services to EEA and EFTA countries after Brexit.

Your employees

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.

Find out how to check an applicant’s right to work and read the guidance on employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens after Brexit.

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.

Business travel

Check the guidance for travellers visiting the EU to find out what you need to do when going abroad for work.

Personal data

Data protection

Your business will need to make sure it follows data protection law if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

If you operate across the EU or exchange personal data with organisations in the EEA, there may be changes that you need to make before the UK leaves the EU.

Read the 6 step process and the data protection guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

You can also check if you can use standard contractual clauses (SCCs) for transfers from the EEA to the UK.

Operating in the EU

Cross-border business operations

If your business operates in the EU you may want to seek professional advice or contact the government of the country in which you operate for more information.

UK companies and limited liability partnerships based in an EU member state may need to restructure to satisfy the requirements for incorporation in that EU member state.

Any UK companies that are carrying out a cross-border merger will need to make sure that they can complete the merger before the UK leaves the EU. You may want to seek legal advice on your specific case.

UK investors in EU businesses need to be aware of any restrictions within the EU country where they are operating.

Read the guidance about structuring your business if the UK leaves the EU without a deal and check the requirements of specific EU countries.

Importing and exporting

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 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.

Read the guidance on customs procedures and VAT for goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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.

Check the temporary rates of customs duty on imports after Brexit.

Trade associations

Royal Institute of British Architects
Advertising Association
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
Law Society
Bar Council
Building Engineering Services Association
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
The Recruitment & Employment Confederation

Published 13 February 2019
Last updated 14 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated with information on providing services to EEA and EFTA countries after EU Exit.
  2. First published.