The new EU trade rules – made simple

SINCE January 1, following the end of the Brexit transition period, doing business with Europe has changed, and businesses have been preparing to make the most of this new start.

Bradfords Bakers, a luxury hamper business based in East Kilbride, Scotland, has been sending its products around the world for decades.

Director James McGoldrick used his experience shipping to countries such as the US and China as a template for trading with the EU after January 1.

He says: “Because we already shipped to countries where extra documentation is needed, we had some of those systems in place. We just had to adapt our procedures.”

The company’s pre-transition planning focused on issues such as preparing to make customs declarations via a courier company, and getting an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number.

In Wales, Jem Skelding, CEO of ethical beauty business Naissance, also found his experience of worldwide exports came in handy.

He says: “We had an element of rehearsal. But while we used to do all our customs documentation ourselves, we’re now looking at employing a customs agent. We want to get it right to avoid delays.

“We also applied for Duty Deferment, and have that in place too.”

Meanwhile London-based tech company Currensea has been busy preparing for potential new rules around transferring data to and from the EU. Both the UK and EU have agreed a temporary “bridging mechanism” which will allow organisations to continue to transfer personal data. During this extension, organisations should consider putting safeguards in place.

Currensea produces fee-free debit cards that allow travellers to dodge exchange rate add-ons when they’re on holiday.

Co-founder James Lynn says: “We hold data in a cloud, and use suppliers to process that data.

“So we’ve had to ask: ‘Where is that company based? And what’s the legal position on the flow of data back and forth?’

“In future, our contracts might need to be altered, and we’ve done a full audit so we’re as prepared as we can be for that.

“Look at the resources out there and go through them in as much detail as possible. It’s worth it.”

If you haven’t finished preparing, the Brexit checker tool at gov.uk/transition guides you through the steps your business needs to take.

What do you need to do now?

  1. Prepare for trade and customs procedures

While the deal means zero tariffs and quotas, businesses need to prepare for changes to procedures. If you’re trading with countries outside the EU, check for any changes to tariffs.

  1. Check how you’ll make customs declarations

You can make these yourself when exporting goods to the EU, but most businesses find it easier to use an intermediary.

  1. Read up on Rules of Origin

The new border controls will be introduced in three stages by July 1. It has also been agreed that Rules of Origin procedures will be simplified until the end of December 2021, by implementing a 12-month waiver on supplier declarations.

  1. Take key actions now

These include making sure you have an EORI number starting with GB, checking the rules for importing and exporting, and being confident your goods meet origin rules before claiming preference.

  1. Get travel ready

If you’re due to travel to the EU for work, you may need a visa or work permit. Keep tabs

on the latest guidance.

  1. Check the rules on hiring and working abroad

If you want to hire staff from outside the UK, including from the EU, you must be a Home Office licensed sponsor. And if

you want to work in the EEA or Switzerland, you may need to get your UK professional qualification officially recognised.

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