Brexit support for businesses

When the UK leaves the EU on 1 January 2021, whether a deal has been signed or not, there will be a lot of important changes that businesses need to prepare for.

As part of our commitment as one of the first lenders to sign the UK Government’s SME Finance Charter, we want to help you and your customers get ready for the transition and the opportunities that lie ahead. The Government has also created a platform to guide you through the transition.

Whatever your industry - manufacturing, transport, agriculture, services - you’ll need to tailor your actions to get through the transition successfully. You can get a bespoke checklist based on your business circumstances by completing the survey on the government website:

Gov.uk - Government - Transition questions

Getting prepared for the transition:

Trade, customs and tax

Your Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number

If you already trade with the EU, you’ll automatically be issued with an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number starting with GB. You’ll need to apply for a new one if it doesn’t start with GB. You can do this easily on the government website.

Gov.uk -  Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI)

New customs procedures

In order to import or export, you’ll need to make customs declarations – you may already do so if you currently trade outside the EU. However, if you’re new to this, you might want the help of a specialist such as a freight forwarder or a customs agent/broker who can act on your behalf, with your written instruction.

A specialist representative will arrange for the clearing of your goods through customs. Use the gov.uk link below to find out the level of services direct or indirect representatives can offer.

Gov.uk - Appoint someone to deal with customs on your behalf

Alternatively, you can complete customs declarations yourself, through the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system. You can apply for access to the system on the gov.uk site.

Gov.uk - Import and export request for chief access

Tax

You’ll need to check the level of tax that applies to your goods. If you’re an exporter, a ‘zero rate’ or VAT at 0% can be applied on most goods. If you’re an importer, the rate of customs duty and VAT vary depending on the type of goods being imported. In addition, you may want to familiarise yourself with the rules for importing and exporting your types of goods, including certificates, licences, labelling and packaging.

Check the government guides to all these key questions via the links below.

Gov.uk - Perpare to Import to Great Britain from January 2021

Gov.uk - Prepare to export from Great Britain from January 2021

Data Protection and Transfers

The EU is currently assessing the UK’s ability to transfer data across borders so the free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK can carry on after the exit date. Find more information on the gov.uk site.

Gov.uk - Using personal data after brexit

If no decision has been made before 1 January 2021, businesses should make sure they have the relevant data processing measures and policies in place so they can continue to lawfully receive data from the EU and the EEA.

Useful information on data transfer and data flow is provided by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). 

ico.org - Data protection for SMEs 

They oversee the enforcement of data and information legislation and promote data rights across the UK.

Employment

Support EU-national employees already in the UK

EU citizens have the right to work in the UK, but they are required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to stay. The deadline to apply for the scheme is 30 June 2021.

This will give them a settled or pre-settled status (depending on how long they’ve been in the UK).  They’ll keep their right to work in the UK as well as access to the NHS and public funds (such as benefits and pension - if they’re eligible for them).

Support EU nationals in your business with their application to the scheme with the Employer Toolkit on the government website.

Gov.uk - EU Settlement Scheme: Employer Toolkit

Employing EU nationals from 1 January 2021

A new immigration system will apply to people arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021. EU citizens moving to the UK for work will need to get a visa in advance.

EU citizens applying for a skilled worker visa will need to show they have a job offer from an approved sponsor to be able to apply. If you’re an employer planning to sponsor skilled migrants from 2021, and are not currently an approved sponsor, you should consider getting approved now. Read more on the government website:

Gov.uk - UK visa sponsorship for employers

You can find more information on the new points-based immigration system on the government site.

Gov.uk - New immigration system - what you need to know.

Sources:
1. Gov.uk /transition - https://www.gov.uk/transition
2. ICO : Information Commissioner’s office - https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-at-the-end-of-the-transition-period/data-protection-at-the-end-of-the-transition-period-for-small-businesses/ 

This information was last updated on 11 November 2020.  It’s not intended to be comprehensive and many details, which may be relevant to particular circumstances have been omitted. We take no responsibility for the consequences of errors or oversights. This information is and should be treated as a helpful guidance, offered on non-reliance basis and does not constitute legal or other advice. Please seek independent advice from your preferred providers for any matters mentioned in this document if you are considering them for your business.