EU Exit & Transition Advice for Businesses

This page was last updated on 22/07/2020

The UK has left the EU. The EU Exit transition period continues to feature in the news as we get closer to each milestone date in the process. But what will it mean for businesses?

The UK Government has launched a new public information campaign called “The UK’s new start: let’s get going” to give everyone the facts that they will need to be ready for 1 January 2021. A straightforward checker tool at will quickly identify the specific steps any business or individual needs to take to be ready, and will allow companies to sign up for bespoke updates. Taking these steps will equip businesses for when the UK exits the transition period.

At the Berkshire Growth Hub, we want to help Berkshire businesses understand what the EU Exit means to them and keep business owners updated with the latest information, advice and support available. This page therefore includes information on:

  1. The transition period & building business resilience
  2. Trading with the EU and the World
  3. Employing EU citizens in the UK & the new Immigration System
  4. Funding
  5. Sector specific information
  6. Other important information and resources including Data Protection
  7. Events and webinars
  8. Latest news

1. The transition period & building business resilience

The UK’s future relationship with the EU

This document, published on 27 February 2020, sets out the Government’s approach to the Future Relationship with the European Union.

Business transition period helpline

A national business transition period helpline has been set-up to help businesses prepare.

Tel: 0300 2000 900 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).

Call the helpline to find out about:

  • where to find information and guidance on what your business needs to do in the transition period
  • other government helplines that are available to support your business during the transition period

You can also contact imports and exports: general enquiries for information about importing and exporting goods.

Transition period checklist for businesses

The British Chambers of Commerce has created a post-transition checklist to help businesses consider and plan for the changes to their organisation.

2. Trading with the EU and the World

Department for International Trade (DIT)

For guidance and information regarding exporting and importing, businesses can call the DIT South East enquiry line on 0330 300 012, submit a transition period enquiry form or email

DIT has also created an informative video on what is a Tariff Rate Quota?

Countries with no trade agreement with UK: If there is no trade agreement between the UK and another country after the transition period, you will have to trade with that country under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. Here is an overview to Trading under WTO rules. In addition, you should check the specific country pages on the DIT website.

Trade agreements with non-EU countries: DIT has published guidance to help you find out which trade agreements with non-EU countries are in place during and after the transition period. UK trade agreements with non-EU countries.

International agreements with third countries: The Department for Exiting the European Union has produced guidance on international agreements with third countries during the transition period.

Bidding for overseas contracts: The Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) allows UK businesses to bid for government contracts in other countries, and foreign businesses to bid for contracts in the UK. At present, the UK is signed up to the GPA through EU membership, but the UK expects to join the GPA on substantially the same terms following the transition period. Bidding for overseas contracts: what to expect from 1 January 2021.

UK/EU border: importing and exporting

On 1 January 2021 the transition period with the European Union will end, and the United Kingdom will operate a full, external border. This means that controls will be placed on the movement of goods between Great Britain and the EU. To afford industry extra time to make necessary arrangements, the UK Government has taken the decision to introduce the new border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021.

The Border Operating Model provides clarity and certainty for the border industry and businesses, including technical detail on how the border with the EU will work after the transition period and the actions that traders, hauliers, ports and carriers need to take.

To help businesses prepare for these changes and continue to trade guides on how to import and export goods are available in the form of a ‘journey’, so that businesses can see every step they need to take to ensure that goods are transported successfully.

Online tool ‘Check how to export goods’: DIT has launched a free digital tool to give businesses the information they need to export goods out of the UK market. The tool helps any business, particularly SMEs, to trade with over 160 markets by providing up to date information and guidance on what they need to know and do in order to export goods to an EU country or to the rest of the world. Check duties and customs procedures for exporting goods.

Export licensing arrangements: DIT and Export Joint Control Unit have published a notice of the current export licensing arrangements which will continue to apply until the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. Notice to exporters 2020/03: exporting and trading items subject to strategic controls during the transition period.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has published a series of short videos and leaflets to help and support traders on import, export and customs for businesses.

HMRC issues Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers: Every business needs an EORI number to move goods between the UK and non-EU countries. HMRC has sent letters to all possible VAT-registered businesses to advise them of their assigned UK EORI number. If your business is not VAT-registered, you still need to register for an EORI number here.

Getting an EORI number is only the first step that businesses need to action urgently. After getting an EORI number, businesses need to decide how to make customs declarations. Traders can also look into how they want to make declarations such as using a customs agent.

HMRC has also provided guidance if you’ve chosen to account for import VAT on your VAT Return: Paying VAT on imports, acquisitions and purchases from abroad and the following guidance:

Ireland: HMRC has produced guidance on how to export excise goods from Northern Ireland to Ireland. Exporting and doing business abroad.

Helpline for traders and hauliers trading goods with the EU: The government has set up a dedicated telephone service for traders and hauliers trading goods with the EU. The helpline provides up-to-date signposting and guidance to help businesses over the transition period. The helpline is not designed to answer technical questions but will instead transfer or signpost traders to the relevant Department and information. You can call the helpline on 0300 3301 331. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

3. Employing EU citizens in the UK & the new Immigration System

The UK Government is introducing a points-based immigration system from 2021. The new system will require those applying via the skilled worker route to accrue points by meeting a number of relevant criteria, such as having a job offer at the appropriate skill level, the ability to speak English and meeting the salary threshold. Further details on the UK’s Points-Based Immigration System have been published, providing more information to employers on the draft requirements and conditions underpinning the key immigration routes in the Points-Based System.

EU citizens resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 can apply to settle in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme until 30 June 2021.

Information for employers on employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in the UK, covering:

4. Funding

HMRC has provided guidance to help you find out what grants you can apply for to get funding for recruitment, training and IT improvements if your business completes customs declarations. You can now apply for grants if your business completes customs declarations.

EU funding

BEIS together with UK Research and Innovation have published guidance on Horizon 2020 funding:

5. Sector specific information

Guidance for the agriculture & food industry

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

DEFRA has published guidance on several key areas affecting businesses. Follow these links for support on:

Details on finding an approved UK border inspection post (BIP) to check the animals or animal products in a consignment can be found here: UK border control posts: contact details

DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency have created IPAFFS as the UK’s new notification system for importing animals and animal products: Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS).

The following sector guidance is also available:

The Food Standards Agency (FSA)

The FSA has published a range of food and animal feed guidance.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency

The Animal and Plant Health Agency has provided a list of organisations that inspect and certify animals and animal products for export: Find a professional to certify export health certificates.

Guidance for the Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Industry

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has provided information on the ‘Written Confirmation’ process for: Good manufacturing practice and good distribution practice.

The Department for Health and Social Care has also produced guidance for:

Guidance from the Department for Transport (DfT)

DfT has updated what bus, coach, truck and lorry drivers as well as tour operators from the UK may need to do to drive in the EU and EEA:

Guidance from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)     

DCMS has issued new guidance for DCMS sectors bringing together guidance to help during the transition period and after 1 January 2021.

Guidance for the Chemicals sector

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the government have issued updated guidance for the chemicals sector:

Information for Professional & Business Services

BEIS has provided advice for businesses on consumer rights: consumer rights and business.

Ministry of Justice has provided the following guidance for the legal sector:

HM Treasury has provided information about financial services such as banking and insurance for UK residents, businesses based in the UK, EEA residents, and financial services institutions: Banking, insurance and other financial services.

Accounting, reporting & auditing compliance

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published how companies can comply with UK accounting and reporting requirements and what audit firms, auditors, and those with an audit qualification should do: auditing for UK auditors and audit firms operating in the EEA and accounting for EEA organisations.

Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

ESFA guidance on further education and apprenticeship providers:

Further sector specific information on EU Exit

The government has produced the following sector specific guidance:

6. Other important information and resources

Data Protection

Although the UK’s own data protection standards will remain the same (the GDPR will come into domestic law), there will be changes to how personal data is transferred from the EU/EEA to the UK. If your business or organisation receives personal data from partners or suppliers in EU or EEA countries you must act now to ensure you can still legally do so. Personal data is any information that can be used to identify someone, this could include a customer’s name, physical or IP addresses, or HR data such as staff working hours and payroll details. To continue receiving personal data legally, review your supplier contracts and read the government and the ICO guidance:

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)

The CMA has published guidance on its functions under the Withdrawal Agreement. The guidance is intended for businesses and their legal advisers but may also be of interest to other enforcers. UK Exit from the EU: Guidance on the functions of the CMA under the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO)

IPO has produced intellectual property and the transition period information on trademarks, designs, patents, copyright, and exhaustion of IP rights with specific information covering:

Small business guidance pack

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has published a guidance pack for small businesses, which includes resources and podcasts.

Company registration changes

Companies House has produced guidance to help you find out whether your business will need to change its company registration from 1 January 2021, and how to do this. Changing your company registration from 1 January 2021.

Online activities and the eCommerce Directive

At the end of the transition period, the eCommerce Directive will no longer apply to the UK. Rules relating to online activities in European Economic Area (EEA) countries may newly apply to UK online service providers who operate in the EEA from 1 January 2021. You should begin to prepare for these changes now.

The eCommerce Directive applies to ‘information society services’. This covers the vast majority of online service providers, for example online retailers, video sharing sites, search tools, social media platforms and internet service providers. The Directive currently allows EEA online service providers to operate in any EEA country, while only following relevant rules in the country in which they are established. This framework will no longer apply to UK providers as the UK will have left the EEA.

Find out what you need to do if you hold a .eu domain

From 1 January 2021, you’ll no longer be able to register or renew a “.eu” domain name if your organisation, business or undertaking is established in the UK but not in the EU/European Economic Area (EEA), or you live outside of the EU/EEA and are not an EU/EEA citizen. If you hold a “.eu” domain name you should check your eligibility and, if necessary, discuss with your local domain name registrar whether to transfer your internet presence to another top-level domain. Find out more here.

Changes to international trademark registrations after 1 January 2021

International trademark registrations protected in the EU under the Madrid Protocol will no longer enjoy protection in the UK after 1 January 2021. To address this, on 1 January 2021 UK Government will create a comparable trade mark (IR) in relation to each international (EU) trade mark designation which has protected status immediately before 1 January 2021. Find out more here.

7. Events and webinars

You can also check out our events section for details of business support events on a range of issues, from marketing and export to HR and finance.

8. Latest news

Visit our news section for the latest announcements regarding the EU Exit transition period.

Provide your feedback to the government

The Berkshire Growth Hub and Thames Valley Berkshire LEP have been asked by government to gather intelligence on the impact of the EU Exit transition period. We need your help in completing an online survey.

Click here to complete the short survey and provide your views on the readiness and resilience of your business.


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