New post-Brexit rules for businesses explained

Saleha Riaz
·3-min read
Firms will need to comply with new customs procedures, otherwise they could face delays, disruption or administrative costs. Photo: Getty Images
Firms will need to comply with new customs procedures, otherwise they could face delays, disruption or administrative costs. Photo: Getty Images

The UK officially left the EU after the transition period ended on 31 December, and for companies this means doing business with Europe has drastically changed, particularly in terms of exporting and importing, tariffs, and hiring.

So, what do businesses need to do differently now?

1. Importing and exporting goods

Firms will need to comply with new customs procedures, otherwise they could face delays, disruption or administrative costs.

Businesses will need an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI) number that starts with GB to import and export goods into England, Wales or Scotland.

If they move goods to or from Northern Ireland they may need one that starts with XI.

Most businesses that import goods use a transporter or customs agent, the government advised.

If the UK has a trade agreement with the country a firm is importing from, they may be able to pay less duty or no duty on the goods, known as a 'preferential rate'.

Firms may also be able to delay or reduce the amount of duty they pay based on what the goods are from and what they plan to do with them.

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If firms are VAT registered, they can claim back any VAT they paid on the goods imported. For this they will need an Import VAT Certificate (C79).

Companies must check to see if the business they are importing from or exporting to need to make a export/import declaration in their country and if they require licences or certificates to send/receive to or from the UK.

There are processes that can make clearing customs quicker and easier to manage if companies export goods regularly, the government has said.

Firms need to find the right commodity code to classify the goods they are exporting. A customs agent or transporter might be able to help with this.

In some cases, exporters might be able to zero rate the goods for VAT. This means they can charge customers VAT at 0%.

2. Business travel

As well as the actions all travellers need to take, such as getting travel insurance, there are extra actions for travelling to the EU for business.

Employees may need a visa, work permit or other documentation if they are planning to stay for longer than 90 days in a 180-day period, or if they will be doing any of the following:

  • transferring from the UK branch of a company to a branch in a different country (‘intra-corporate transfer’), even for a short period of time

  • carrying out contracts to provide a service to a client in another country in which your employer has no presence

  • providing services in another country as a self-employed person

3. Hiring

If firms are planning to recruit from overseas they will need to register as a licensed visa sponsor, otherwise they can’t legally hire people from outside the UK.

New employees from outside the UK will also need to meet new job, salary and language requirements. Irish citizens and those eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme are not affected.

Firms will also need to look at changes affecting manufactured goods, such as new marking requirements or approvals needed, to ensure they are ready to sell them in the UK and EU.

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