Time is running out: FAQs about the UK Transition for businesses

There are a number of actions that businesses and individuals must take to be prepared ahead of the UK Transition on 1 January 2021. HM Government has published a series of FAQs to help businesses prepare.

What is the Transition Period?

  • After the UK left the EU on 31st January, the UK entered into a Transition Period until 31st December 2020.
  • This is a period of time in which the UK is no longer a member of the EU but continues to be subject to EU rules and a member of the single market and customs union while the negotiations on its future relationship with the EU were taking place.
  • As the UK transitions to a new relationship, its new start will involve a series of changes and opportunities for businesses.

When does it end?

  • The Transition Period ends on 31 December 2020. This date will not change or be extended – this is written into the UK’s laws.
  • Changes will therefore come into force on 1 January 2021, our new start.

Do I need to do anything?

  • Yes, you do. The end of the Transition Period will bring about a series of changes and opportunities for which we all need to prepare.
  • The UK will be leaving the single market and customs union at the end of the year.
  • The best way to find out what you need to do is to visit GOV.UK/transition. You can answer a few short questions and receive a personalised list of actions for you, your family and your business. You can also sign up to emails to get updates when things change.

I already did some of the actions when you asked me to prepare in the past. Do I have to do them again?

  • Yes – HM Government updates its guidance on a regular basis, so to ensure you know what is changing, go to GOV.UK/transition, use the Transition checker tool and make sure you are registered for updates.

What are the key actions I might need to take to prepare for the end of the Transition Period?

  • The actions the public and business owners need to take vary based on their circumstances. Some of the key actions include:
    • Making sure you are ready to travel to the EU and EFTA states from 1 January 2021, for example by getting comprehensive travel insurance, ensuring your passport is valid, and checking your roaming policy with your mobile phone provider.
    • If you want to travel to the EU and EFTA states with your pet from 1 January 2021, contact your vet at least 4 months before you travel.
    • Making sure your business is ready to export or import from/to the EU, for example by getting an EU EORI number or registering with the relevant Customs Authority.
    • Key actions that businesses and individuals need to take before the end of the Transition Period can be found on GOV.UK/transition.

Are all the actions that businesses and individuals need to take online on GOV.UK?

  • Yes, HM Government has added the key actions you can take now into one place on GOV.UK/transition.
  • Here, you can complete the ‘Transition Checker tool’, find out actions to take and register for updates. Additional guidance may be provided later in the year.

I’m a business. Do I need to do anything specific?

  • Your business will have to make a number of changes to ensure continued flow of people, data, goods and services between the UK and the EU. These actions are required for businesses:
    • If you sell goods to the EU you must prepare for new customs procedures.
    • If you travel to the EU for work purposes you will need to check if you need a visa or work permit and apply if necessary.
    • If you employ overseas nationals you will need to prepare your business for the implementation of the new immigration system.
    • If you are a UK business or organisation that receives personal data from contacts in the EEA, you may need to take extra steps to ensure that the data can continue to flow at the end of the Transition Period.
    • If you provide services in the EU, you must ensure that your qualifications are now recognised by EU regulations to be able to practice or service clients in the EU. Many of the changes and opportunities that are coming at the end of the year relate to business.

Will I be able to hire EU nationals in the future, and under what conditions?

  • Yes – but the way you hire from the EU is changing. Free movement is ending and the UK is introducing a new points-based immigration system.
  • From 1 January 2021, if you want to hire anyone from outside the UK you must be a Home Office licenced sponsor. This includes recruiting people from the EU.
  • Anyone coming to the UK to work will need a job offer from a licenced sponsor in advance, and will need to meet certain skills and salary criteria.
  • Find out more information on GOV.UK.

How can my company continue to trade cross-border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain?

  • As HM Government set out in the Command Paper on 20 May, they are committed to working closely with businesses as we implement the Northern Ireland Protocol – they are at the heart of our approach.
  • That is reflected in the commitments they have made: to unfettered access to the whole UK market; to no tariffs on goods remaining in the UK’s customs territory; to NI benefiting in full from the UK’s FTAs with third countries; and to streamlining the processes under the Protocol to the maximum extent – to ensure there is no new customs infrastructure.
  • HM Government has set up a new Trader Support Service, providing an end-to-end service, which will guide traders through all import processes at no additional cost. This is a unique intervention, backed by £200m in Government funding, ensuring that businesses of all sizes can draw on the support it provides.

My business is primarily based in the EU – what do I need to do?

  • If you run an EU-based business, you need to check the new rules and prepare for the changes so that you can continue trading with the UK from January 2021.
  • Rules are changing and there will be border requirements placed on the movement of goods between the EU and UK.
  • Check the guidance and find help and support at GOV.UK/eubusiness

Exemplas Trade Services Ltd (ETSL) has delivered the contract for the Department for International Trade (formerly UK Trade and Investment) in the East of England for almost a decade.

For more information on how we can support your business in exporting overseas, get in touch.