With just 90 days to go until the end of the Brexit transition period, it’s remarkable to think that we still don’t know whether Britain will be leaving the EU with a deal. The chances of a ‘No Deal Brexit’ are rising, but an agreement is still possible.
While most businesses will have been thinking about Brexit for months, some feel unable to move their planning to the next level without knowing the terms on which we’ll leave the EU. But regardless of whether a deal is reached between the UK and the EU, changes are certainly coming.
So, how ready is your business for Brexit? Here we’ve compiled a checklist of some of the key things that businesses will need to be thinking about as we hurtle towards the end of the year.
Importing and exporting goods
Does your business import or export goods to or from the EU? If so, the process for importing and exporting goods is changing. Here’s what you need to think about.
Do you have a plan in place for how you will declare your goods?
From January 1st 2021, you will need to make customs declarations when importing or exporting from or to the EU. You can make them yourself or hire someone else such as a courier, freight forwarder or customs agent. If you haven't already, you may want to check out ChamberCustoms, the only customs broker in the country to offer a 'one stop shop' with direct links to all sea, air, rail and road ports and terminals in the UK. They can make customs declarations for you or train your staff so you can do it yourselves.
Have you checked the rules for your type of goods?
The rules for importing/exporting some types of goods will change. To find out if this impacts you, follow the links below:
- Check what import and export licences or certificates you need
- Check the marking, labelling and marketing standards for food, plant seeds and manufactured goods
- Check the rules for importing and exporting alcohol, tobacco and certain oils
Have you registered for an EORI number?
You will need to obtain an EORI number that starts with GB if you want to export or import goods to or from the EU. Apply here now. It takes up to a week.
Have you checked if you can charge customers VAT at 0% when exporting?
You can charge customers VAT at 0% (known as ‘zero rate’) on most goods you export to the EU. Check if you can zero rate your goods here.
Have you checked the rate of tax and duty you’ll need to pay when importing?
Do you have staff who are EU citizens? Are you planning to travel to the EU for work next year? Here’s what you need to think about.
Do your staff know the steps to take to register as an EU citizen working in the UK?
EU citizens who have lived in the UK for at least five years by 31 December 2020 will be able to apply for UK Settled Status. Those who have been here for less than 5 years, can apply for Pre-Settled status until they meet the full criteria. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021. Irish citizens do not need to apply to the scheme.
Are you and your employees aware of changes to rules around passports and travel?
UK citizens will not need a visa to travel in the EU/EEA & Switzerland for business meetings for up to 90 days in any 180 day period. After 1 January 2021, you will need to have at least 6 months left on your passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland). You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.
Do you provide services in regulated professions in the EEA?
UK nationals seeking recognition to provide services in regulated professions in the EEA will need to check the host state’s policies. The European Commission has published guidance on professional qualifications. Where UK nationals have already been recognised by an EU country as holding valid professional qualifications this will remain valid after the UK leaves the EU. The Commission has advised holders of qualifications obtained in the UK before the UK leaves the EU to obtain recognition in a EU27 Member State before Brexit.
Are you a business that is stockpiling? If so, here’s what you need to know.
Have you checked on whether you are still fully insured?
Check with your insurer or insurance adviser to see if there are any restrictions on the amount of stock or raw material you can hold, and the way in which they are stored.
Currency, Intellectual Property & Contracts
The currency your business is paid in, your intellectual property and your contracts are all things you will need to think about before the UK leaves the EU.
What currency are you being paid in? Have you considered the possibility of currency movement?
The months following the EU referendum saw significant currency volatility. You need to consider the possibility of further currency movements after Brexit and how this might affect existing and future contracts. Your local Chamber can give recommendations for mitigating these risks. You can get in touch with the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce here, we’d be happy to help.
What do you need to know about intellectual property?
If there is no deal with the EU, while there will be no change for the importation of goods into the UK, there may be restrictions on the parallel import of goods from the UK into the EEA. Businesses undertaking such activities may need to check with right holders to see if permission is needed.
Have you reviewed your existing contracts?
Some of the terms of existing contracts may no longer be relevant post Brexit. Do any of your contracts refer to terms that should be reviewed in light of the UK leaving the EU? Do they make references to the UK being a member state? Does your contract rely on EU regulation applicable to contractual agreements?
Regulatory compliance, Data protection & Accounting
Here’s what you need to think about when it comes to regulatory compliance, using personal data and accounting after Brexit.
Which regulatory agencies do you work with? What steps might you need to take to comply with separate UK and EU regulators in the future?
In the event of a No Deal Brexit, you will need to comply with new license requirements and changes to your competent regulatory authority. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a checklist of six steps that businesses can take now to start preparing for data protection compliance in the event of no deal.
Do you know if the EU’s eCommerce Directive is relevant to your business?
Official guidance provides businesses with information about the eCommerce Directive and sets out the Government's approach to contingency planning in the event of no deal. In this case, although there would be continuity in some areas there would also be changes – such as the Directive's country of origin principle, which UK companies would cease to benefit from. Find out more here.
Do you have a branch operating in the EU?
UK businesses with a branch operating in the EU will become a third country business in the event of a no deal which means that your business will need to comply with specific accounting and reporting requirements in each country. You can find more information here.
Should you apply for European funding opportunities?
Innovative UK-based businesses can apply for a Horizon 2020 call - the biggest single opportunity for UK businesses to access European funding. It’s a gateway for accessing new expertise, infrastructure and markets and will boost your company’s competitiveness and growth. It’s open to all EU member states. Find out more and how to apply here.
For more information to help you get prepared for Brexit, the British Chamber of Commerce has put together a comprehensive checklist which also outlines how specific sectors may be affected. You can find it here.
You may also want to take a look at The UK transition website which has been set up by the government. You can get a personalised list of actions for your business by answering a few short questions.
The Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce are, as always, here to help. If you want to speak to someone for help and advice about getting ready for Brexit, please get in touch.