The space sector and preparing for Brexit

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

This guidance was withdrawn on

This page is out of date. It told you how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

After 31 January 2020 there will be a transition period until the end of 2020, while the UK and EU negotiate additional arrangements.

In most cases the current rules will continue to apply during the transition period.

Read about the transition period.

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

Public procurement

UK space sector bids for future EU contracts

The UK will no longer be able to participate in EU space programmes if there’s a no-deal Brexit. UK-based businesses, academics and researchers will not be able to bid for future work on these programmes.

Read the guidance on Satellites and space programmes after Brexit.

Membership of the European Space Agency

UK membership of the European Space Agency (ESA) is not affected by Brexit because it is not an EU organisation.

EU Global Navigation Satellite System (Galileo and EGNOS) programmes

UK businesses, academics and researchers that are contracted, or expecting to carry out contracts on these programmes, should contact the relevant contracting authority. You should make sure arrangements are in place to comply with the conditions of the contract and avoid possible penalties.

Businesses, academics and researchers in the UK and UK overseas territories which hold ground infrastructure hosting contracts may wish to contact their contracting authority to confirm the future position.


UK-based businesses, academics and researchers will be unable to bid for future Copernicus contracts tendered through the EU, or through any other process using EU procurement rules. This includes the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).

UK-based Copernicus data users should consider the impact that losing access to any Copernicus data or information not sourced under the free and open data policy will have on their operations.

Space surveillance and tracking

A small number of UK providers may still have programme delivery contracts in place when the UK leaves the EU.

Any companies currently involved in the programme should contact their relevant contracting authority if they have concerns about their contractual status.

EU organisations may be carrying out, or expecting to carry out, contracts which involve partnership arrangements with UK businesses, academics and researchers. They may wish to contact the relevant contracting authority to make sure arrangements are in place to ensure continued partnership complies with the conditions of the contract after Brexit and to avoid possible penalties.

Digital and data

Accessing Earth Observation Data

Copernicus has a free and open data policy. This means that the data produced by its satellites (Sentinels) and the Land, Marine Environment, Climate Change and Atmosphere services will continue to be freely available to UK users.

UK users could lose the right to high-bandwidth access to the standard data from Copernicus Sentinels and the UK will lose access to data sourced by Copernicus from contributing missions.

Read the guidance on satellites and space programmes if there’s no Brexit deal.

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.

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.

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.

Read the guidance on exporting controlled goods after Brexit.

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.

Regulation and standards

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.

Read the guidance on regulating chemicals if the UK leaves the EU without a deal and the chemical regulation guidance from HSE.

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.

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.

Trade associations

UK Space

Published 13 February 2019
Last updated 14 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated with information for users/importers of chemicals and details of the temporary tariff regime.

  2. First published.

Transition period

Find out what it means for you