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Brexit advice for businesses

All businesses should take action to prepare for new rules that will come into effect from 1 January 2021, even if you do not trade with or do business in the EU.

Upcoming events

Key steps to take now

Your workforce

If you currently employ an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, they must apply for before 30 June 2021 in order to continue living and working in the UK.

If you are planning to hire people from outside the UK from 1 January 2021, regardless if they are EU or non-EU citizens, they will need to apply under the new points-based immigration system.

Business travel

As well as the actions all travellers need to take, there are extra actions you need to take if you’re travelling to the EU for business.

Cross-border trade


Using the right paperwork will be essential to trade with the EU from 1 January 2021. The Government have issued advice on which forms you will need to fill out in order to trade.

You’re advised to use the Incoterms rules if you’re not trading in services.


Tariffs may impact the costs of trading with EU from 1 January 2021. Check the following guidance to find out whether this will affect your costs for:

Contact your trade adviser to find out more about how WTO rules in case a trade agreement is not agreed by 31 December 2020.


On 1 January 2021, the United Kingdom will operate a full, external border with the EU. This will result in new border customs checks. You should check how prepared your business and your supply chains are for potential delays.

The Government’s Border Operating Model provides clarity and certainty for the border industry and businesses.

Hauliers should check that drivers have the correct documentation to drive in the EU after 1 January 2021.


Check the government guidance on importing to see how the process for bringing goods in from the EU will change from 1 January 2021.

If you import goods regularly, you can apply for a duty deferment account which allows you to make one payment a month through Direct Debit instead of paying for individual consignments.


Check the government guidance to see how the process for exporting goods to the EU will change from 1 January 2021.

You should also check this country-by-country guide to find out how exporting goods and services to each EU country and non-EU country is expected to change from 1 January 2021.

Trading in services

Services provided by UK businesses may face additional legal, regulatory and administrative barriers from 1 January 2021.

Check the government guidance on selling services to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein from 1 January 2021 to continue trading in services with EEA countries after the end of the transition period.

 It is important to understand the guidelines of the country in which you are selling services. 

Data protection

If you process the personal data of stakeholders, customers, and any other contacts, you need to take action to prepare for changes to data flows and data protection from 1 January 2021.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a range of resources to help businesses prepare for these changes.


The Government has produced guidance which lists the steps you need to take to ensure your business is compliant with the new legal requirements. The Government also recommends seeking legal advice.

Intellectual property

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.

Public procurement

From 1 January 2021, a new e-notification service called ‘Find a Tender’ will be used to post and view public sector procurement notices. For more information on this service, Check the website.

Governmental business support

If you have further questions on imports, exports and customs reliefs:

If you’re facing a trade barrier, please make contact with the Department of International Trade (DIT) to resolve it.

Three separate grants are available to help your business complete customs declarations. You can apply to get funding for:

  • training that helps your business to complete customs declarations and processes
  • hiring new staff to help your business complete customs declarations
  • IT improvements to help your business complete customs declarations more efficiently

More information on the scheme and how to apply is available on the website.

Non-governmental business support organisations