Brexit: Actions businesses need to take to continue trading with EU

Brexit: Actions businesses need to take to continue trading with EU
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Tue 15th Sep 2020

HM Revenue & Customs has sent letters to VAT-registered businesses in Great Britain trading with the EU highlighting actions they need to take to continue trading with the EU from 1 January 2021. We've published the letter below.

Dear customer,

Get your business ready to trade with the EU from 1 January 2021

We're writing to you because you're a VAT registered business that trades with the EU. We would like to make you aware of changes you need to know about to continue trading with the EU from next year.

We recognise the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic may have affected your preparations.

That's why on 12 June 2020, the government announced that new border controls on imports from the EU to Great Britain will be introduced in stages, and customs declarations for goods which are not controlled can be delayed until 30 June 2021.

What's changing?

The UK will leave the EU's Single Market and Customs Union when the transition period ends.

From 1 January 2021, the UK will operate a full, external border with the EU.

This means that there will be controls placed on the movement of goods between Great Britain and the EU.

From 1 January you'll need to submit declarations when importing and exporting goods that are categorised as 'controlled'.

Import processes for non-controlled goods will be introduced in 3 stages: January, April and July. The section below titled 'How the UK's Import Processes will be introduced in 2021' shows how this will work in more detail.

What you need to do now

Make sure you have a GB EORI
You should already have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. You will need this to complete customs declarations. If you do not yet have one, you can register for free by going to

Decide how you're going to make customs declarations
Customs agents, freight forwarders and express operators can help you with declarations and ensure you're providing the necessary information. For more information, go to

See if your imported goods are eligible for staged controls
Most traders with a good compliance record will be able to defer import declarations on most goods for up to six months after 1 January 2021. For more information, go to

Decide how you will account for import VAT when you make a customs declaration
From 1 January 2021, businesses will be able to use postponed VAT accounting to account for import VAT on their VAT Return for goods imported from anywhere in the world. For more information, go to

Check if import VAT is due at the border
Import VAT will not be due at the border if goods in a consignment do not exceed £135 in value. The only exceptions will be excise goods and gifts. For more information, go to

Check the controlled goods list to see if you need to complete declarations from January. If your goods are not on the list you can choose to delay import declarations until July 2021
To check if your imported goods are on the controlled goods list, go to

Check the government's tariff tables and consider how your trade will be affected
From 1 January 2021, there will be new rates of Customs Duty for imports - called the UK Global Tariff. To check the tariffs that will apply to goods you import, go to

Sign up for the new Trader Support Service, if you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland or bring goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK
The free Trader Support Service (TSS) will handle the new processes arising under the Northern Ireland Protocol for you from 1 January 2021. To register your interest for using this service, go to

Further information about movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be available soon. Please note TSS is not available for goods moved between Great Britain and the EU.

Keep up to date
To keep up to date with the latest EU Transition information, please register for our free email update service. Go to and select 'Sign up to help and support emails from HMRC'.

We'll provide more guidance on changes to trade with the EU over the coming months, as the negotiations progress.

Brexit: How the UK's Import Processes will be introduced in 2021

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance content creator and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I have 18 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from billionaires like Sir Richard Branson to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community and have strong connections to major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 50 events; from intimate meet-ups to conferences with an audience of hundreds including events for international brands like Facebook and Xero. I'm also a big fan of podcasts having hosted Enterprise Nation's Small Business Sessions as well as lots of online events including Facebook Live interviews, webinars and three live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography. I'm here to help. I'm volunteering free advice calls of up to an hour as part of the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, over the next 6 months. Please get in touch to see how I can help your business. 

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