An easy-to-follow checklist to help ensure your business is prepared for Brexit

Whilst there is still some uncertainty as to whether the UK or EU will agree a tariff free trade agreement, either way, UK business will need to produce additional documentation for importing and exporting goods to the EU from 1 January 2021.

At LWA we aim to support businesses through the necessities of compliance, so that you can focus on growing your business – planning for the new requirements would be sensible right now, but with the current economic pressures, we hope that our simple checklist with some of the key planning questions and resources for businesses will help you to plan for trading with the EU post Brexit.

LWA November Blog 2 - our checklist for businesses to prepare for Brexit - Image by Elionas2 from Pixabay eu
Transition period

Even though the intricacies of the Brexit deal have not been finalised, the UK will be leaving the EU on 1st January 2021, with the Government confirming that “The transition period ends in December” – the document linked here outlines actions to take now if you are:

  • importing goods into the UK
  • exporting goods from the UK
  • travelling to the EU
  • living and working in the EU
  • staying in the UK if you're an EU citizen


Top 20 checklist pointers

Below we detail some of the areas you should consider, particularly if you import or export goods to the EU and haven’t had the need to complete the various forms before. Each of the points links to the relevant Gov.uk website page.

  1. If you move goods to or from the EU register ensure you apply (unless you already have) for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

  1. Consider an agent to help with completing import/export forms – export.org.uk or check which forms apply to you (see below) and start the completion process yourself as soon as possible.

  1. If you export goods see the step by step guide here.

  1. Export rules are specific by sector so review “The transition period ends in December” Government website. There you can get a personalised list of actions and can subscribe for email updates.

  1. The VAT reporting rules for EU sales can be found by clicking here.

  1. If you import goods then see the guidance “Starting to import”.

  1. There is a step by step guide on importing here.

  1. Click here for Guidance on paying VAT on imports.

  1. You may want to review HMRC YouTube videos on international trade.

  1. You may choose to register for “Authorised Economic Operator” (AEO) status which enables “Trusted” businesses simplified customs procedures. Application does take time and is complex, so please see advice.

  1. In the event of the EU and UK not agreeing a free trade agreement, from 1 January 2021 all exports and imports to the EU will be subject to tariffs. You will need to identify where “inputs” come from and which categories of product they fall into so you can work out the tariffs that will apply. Here is the UK Government’s published trade tariffs duty and VAT rates by commodity.

  1. If you currently have business agreements with EU companies these may need to be redrafted to cover off areas such as customs arrangements, import duties, how VAT is accounted for, definitions such as “Territory”, dispute resolution and unanticipated administration as a result of Brexit. Consult your lawyer for advice to avoid any potential issues sooner rather than later.

  1. Review all EU employees currently working in your business and ascertain whether they are applying for “Settled status” by 31 December 2020. Your UK employees working in the EU may need to apply for similar status.

  1. If your business has a “.EU” domain name you should check the eligibility to hold such a domain.

  1. If you are involved in eCommerce then read the Government’s EU guidance.

    There are also other business matters to consider such as data protection, intellectual property and replacing existing agreements with EU suppliers and customers.

  1. Data Protection – you may need to comply with new license requirements and changes in regulation. The Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) will update its guidance once the outcome of the negotiations is known. In the meantime, you can click here for the latest data protection information.

  1. Copyrights - A substantial part of UK copyright law is derived from the EU copyright framework. Because of this, there are references in UK law to the EU, the EEA, and member states. Some of these references occur in the UK’s implementation of EU cross-border copyright arrangements. These arrangements apply only within the EU and EEA and provide reciprocal protections and benefits between member states. If there is no future reciprocal UK EU deal, contact your lawyer to discuss.

  1. For Intellectual Property see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/intellectual-property-and-the-transition-period

  1. For Trademarks see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eu-trademark-protection-and-comparable-uk-trademarks

  1. Consider forming a company in the EU. Talk to a us about how we can help you to do this.

We hope the above covers all the areas that your business may need to review ahead of Brexit, however, if you’d like any support on your transition towards becoming compliant in specific areas, please contact a member of our team in Warrington on 01925 830 830 or in South Manchester on 0161 905 1801, who will be happy to help.

Steve Collings

Written by Steve Collings

Steve Collings FMAAT, FCCA is the audit and technical partner at Leavitt Walmsley Associates Ltd and a member of the UK GAAP Technical Advisory Group at the Financial Reporting Council. He regularly lectures on small company reporting issues and the book benefits from his wide range of experience in dealing with clients in this area. He is also the author of Accounts and Audit of Limited Liability Partnerships, Fifth Edition and Financial Reporting for Unlisted Companies in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Second Edition (both published by Bloomsbury Professional).

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