The UK is currently in its transition period until 31st December 2020. During this time, businesses have had to keep complying with EU rules and laws. However, as the transition period comes to an end, it is time to get your business prepared. 

At present, trade between the UK and the EU is entirely tariff-free. However, it is likely that British businesses will face additional administration and EU tariffs. In terms of exporting and importing goods, your business will encounter a new process and will need to consider the following: consumer declarations, an EORI number (should start with GB) as well as tax rates and duties which apply. 

As a consequence of these additional trade and tariff requirements, your business’ supply chain (flow of goods/services) may be disrupted. It will be essential for your business to anticipate that it may be harder to fulfil your customer’s orders and prices may increase and we recommend reviewing your terms and conditions accordingly.    

Free trade across the EU is not the only major transition that will impact your business as the free movement of employees is also set to change. Both EU citizens working in the UK (who will need to apply to remain) and UK citizens working abroad face additional requirements for work, travel and residence. In order to hire from the EU, a new points-based system will be in place which will introduce job, salary and language requirements. In addition, your business will need to register as a licensed sponsor in order to hire these eligible employees from outside the UK. 

If your business plans on placing manufactured goods on the market from January 2021 there will be new regulations that you will need to comply with. Whilst manufacturers’ legal obligations will largely remain the same, your company will need to confirm whether you or your supplier will become an ‘importer’. You will also need to ensure that your goods meet the correct conformity markings. If your goods are currently subject to the EC marking, this will need to be replaced with the UKCA mark to indicate that the products comply with UK legislation. Any EU based representatives/responsible persons will also no longer be recognised in the UK. If required, your business will need to an appoint a UK based representative or responsible person. 

Furthermore, if your business has intellectual property this is another important factor to take into consideration. Your business will still want to protect brand names and designs, but the existing coverage is set to change. Therefore, as a right holder, your business will need to apply for separate UK and EU trademarks/designs/patents etc. 

Behind the scenes, the government and parliament will be untangling the web of legal and regulatory uncertainty. Therefore, one of the most important and immediate adjustments that your business will need to be prepared for, is the change in the approach to the law. As the UK is likely to bring into force their own regulations which will replace the EU’s, a period of uncertainty will most likely follow. 

As the UK is yet to strike a deal, nothing can be said for certain. For many this next period is simply about understanding the changes that business will be exposed to in the coming months.  But it is important for businesses to understand what happens next, particularly if you import goods to or export goods from the EU.

If you need any help get in touch with us on info@2020businesslaw.co.uk or 01980 676875.