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The UK and EU have agreed a Trade and Cooperation Agreement governing future trade relations from 1 January 2021. As a result, businesses have to make a number of changes to ensure continued flow of people, data, goods and services between the UK and the EU.

The best place for businesses to get support and information about the changes is at GOV.UK/transition. You can also apply for grants to help your business with customs declarations.

Your workforce

If you currently employ an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, they must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021 in order to continue living and working in the UK. You can also signpost them to Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth (CAML).

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

Business travel

If you travel to the EU for work purposes, you may need a visa or work permit. Visit gov.uk/transition or Visiting the EU to find out what to do.

Trading in goods

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


From 1 January 2021, the United Kingdom started operating a full, external border with the EU, which resulted in new border customs checks. You should check how prepared your business and your supply chains are to prevent future border frictions.

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

From 1 January 2021, HGVs over 7.5 tonnes must have a Kent Access Permit (KAP) to travel through Kent to the Port of Dover or the Eurotunnel and on to the EU.


Check the government guidance on importing to see how the process for bringing goods into the UK has changed 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 find more information on exporting from the UK step by step.

As EU trade agreements no longer apply to the UK, you should check this country-by-country guide to find out how exporting goods and services to non-EU countries has changed from 1 January 2021.

Moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland

Check the government guidance to find out about the new requirements for moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The Trader Support Service is free to use and will guide you through any changes to the way goods move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It can also complete declarations on your behalf.

Check out the Movement Assistance Scheme to get help with moving 'agrifood' goods.

Trading in services

If you're a UK business or professional providing services or investing in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, you'll need to check the government guidance to continue trading in services with these countries from 1 January 2021.

Ensure you are compliant in areas such as licensing, professional qualifications and VAT with the guidelines of the country in which you are selling services.

Specific guidance is available for auditing and legal services.

Data protection

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement includes a bridging mechanism for the continued free flow of personal data for six months while the EU grants adequacy decisions to the UK. In the meantime, it is advisable to put in place alternative transfer mechanisms, such as Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs).

Consult the ICO guidance and government guidance to review your contracts to ensure your organisation can continue receiving personal data from the EU/EEA now that the Brexit transition period has ended.


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.

Public procurement

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

Other sectors

Check out the following links for sector-specific information

Governmental business support

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

Non-governmental business support organisations

  • London Chamber of Commerce and Industry – As well as an EU Trade Hub, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry is offering support with export documentation and customs declarations. Find out more about their services on their website.
  • Open to Export – Open to Export is an online forum and resource for exporters from the Institute of Export and International Trade. First time exporters may be interested to draw up an export plan using a free advice service for exporters.