Guidance

The retail sector and preparing for Brexit

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

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The UK is leaving the EU. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit and will be updated if anything changes.

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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

  1. 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.

  2. Decide if you want to hire an import-export agent, or make the declarations yourself.

  3. 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.

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

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.

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

Regulations 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.

Read the guidance on placing manufactured goods on the EU internal market if there’s no deal and placing manufactured goods on the UK internal market if there’s no deal.

Further information is available in the guidance on UK product safety and metrology if there’s no deal.

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 on 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 guidance on sharing personal data across borders 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.

Trade associations

British Independent Retailers Association
British Retail Consortium

Published 1 February 2019
Last updated 14 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated with information on the temporary tariff regime.
  2. First published.