EU transition period

The UK has left the EU. There is now a transition period until the end of 2020. Find out the actions you can take now to prepare.

Last updated 15 September 2020.

The UK is leaving the EU single market and customs union. There is now a transition period until the end of 2020, and the end of this period will affect citizens, businesses. The current rules on trade, travel and business for the UK and EU will continue to apply during the transition period.

Use a transition checker to find out how to get ready for new rules in 2021. See gov.uk/transition for more information.

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Information for businesses that trade with the EU

A guide to how the border with the European Union will work after the transition period

Recognising the impact of coronavirus on businesses’ ability to prepare, and following the announcement in February that the UK Government will implement full border controls on imports coming into GB from the EU, the UK Government has taken the decision to introduce the new border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021. This approach will give industry extra time to make necessary arrangements. The stages are:

  • From January 2021 

    Traders importing standard goods, covering everything from clothes to electronics, will need to prepare for basic customs requirements, such as keeping sufficient records of imported goods, and will have up to six months to complete customs declarations. While tariffs will need to be paid on all imports, payments can be deferred until the customs declaration has been made. There will be checks on controlled goods like alcohol and tobacco. Businesses will also need to consider how they account for VAT on imported goods. There will also be physical checks at the point of destination on all high-risk live animals and a proportion of low-risk live animals.
  • From April 2021

    All products of animal origin (POAO) – for example meat, pet food, honey, milk or egg products – and all regulated plants and plant products will also require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation.
  • From July 2021 

    Traders moving all goods will have to make declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant tariffs. Full Safety and Security declarations will be required, while for SPS commodities there will be an increase in physical checks and the taking of samples: checks for animals, plants and their products will now take place at GB Border Control Posts.

Further details can be found in the Border Operating Model. 

Prepare for new processes for moving goods between Great Britain and the EU

  • Make sure you have a GB EORI
    You should already have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. You will need this to complete customs declarations. If you do not yet have one, you can register for free.
  • Decide how you’re going to make customs declarations
    Customs agents, freight forwarders and express operators can help you with declarations and ensure you’re providing the necessary information. Learn more.
  • See if your imported goods are eligible for staged controls
    Most traders with a good compliance record will be able to defer import declarations on most goods for up to six months after 1 January 2021. Learn more.
  • Decide how you will account for import VAT when you make a customs declaration
    From 1 January 2021, businesses will be able to use postponed VAT accounting to account for import VAT on their VAT Return for goods imported from anywhere in the world. Learn more.
  • Check if Import VAT is due at the border
    Import VAT will not be due at the border if goods in a consignment do not exceed £135 in value. The only exceptions will be excise goods and gifts. Learn more.
  • Check the Controlled goods list to see if you need to complete declarations from January. If your goods are not on the list, you can choose to delay import declarations until July 2021
    Check if your imported goods are on the Controlled goods list.
  • Check the government’s tariff tables and consider how your trade will be affected
    From 1 January 2021, there will be new rates of Customs Duty for imports - called the UK Global Tariff. Check the tariffs that will apply to goods you import
  • Sign up for the new Trader Support Service, if you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland or bring goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK
    The free Trader Support Service (TSS) will handle the new processes arising under the Northern Ireland Protocol for you from 1 January 2021. Register your interest in using this service. Further information about the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be available soon. Please note TSS is not available for goods moved between Great Britain and the EU.

EU transition guidance

EU (Withdrawal) Act and Common Frameworks report

The seventh European Union (Withdrawal) Act and Common Frameworks statutory report details the progress on the development of common frameworks. These frameworks will help facilitate the flow of trade between different parts of the UK whilst allowing the UK to fulfil its international obligations; they will help the UK to safeguard our common resources and enable the functioning of the UK’s internal market.

Existing UK trade agreements with non-EU countries

Information on the trade agreements the UK has already signed and our discussions with countries the EU has a trade agreement with has been updated.

Employing EU citizens in the UK

Information for employers on employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in the UK, covering: the right to work checks, the EU Settlement Scheme and the UK’s new immigration system has been updated with information on temporary changes to the way you can check right to work documents because of Coronavirus.

List of customs agents and fast parcel operators

Updated with additional customs agents and fast parcel operators who can help submit customs declarations from 1 January 2021.

Financial services legislation under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018

Updated with Trade Repository Registration Arrangements under the UK Securities Financing Transactions Regulation document. HM Treasury’s programme of secondary legislation to ensure that the UK continues to have a functioning financial services regulatory regime in all scenarios when the UK leaves the EU.

£50 million to support businesses

To support businesses with the new processes taking effect next year, the UK Government has developed a new £50 million package to boost the capacity of customs intermediaries – including customs brokers, freight forwarders and express parcel operators – providing businesses with further support. This funding will support intermediaries with recruitment, training and supplying IT equipment to help handle customs declarations. Applications for the new funding will be open from July and HMRC will unveil more details in due course. Rules will also be changed to remove barriers for intermediaries taking on new clients.

Additionally, the UK Government have committed to building new border facilities in Great Britain for carrying out required checks, such as customs compliance, transit, and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks, as well as providing targeted support to ports to build new infrastructure. We are consulting with ports across the UK to agree on what infrastructure is required. Find out more.

Does your business move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

At the end of the transition period when the Northern Ireland Protocol comes into force there will be changes to the way goods move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. For businesses to keep up to date with changes, they will need to fill in the Northern Ireland Protocol questionnaire.

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