News update: SME Brexit Support Fund
Since 01st January 2021, businesses have struggled to cope with changes to customs, rules of origin and VAT when trading with the EU.
Under the SME Brexit Support Fund, those SME’s who only trade with the EU are being encouraged to apply for grants of up to £2,000. Traders can then use this money to pay for practical support, training and advice and prepare for the implementation of import controls coming in to force from April and July.
Applications to the £20 million fund will open next month and will be administered through the Customs Grant Scheme
You can read the full announcement from the government here
You can find out which countries the UK has signed trade agreements with here.
For all other countries, trade takes place under WTO rules. MFN treatment means that the UK cannot offer more favourable trading terms to some countries at their own preference – terms must be uniform. Find out more about trading under WTO rules here.
As of 1st January 2021, the UKCA marking has come into effect but in most cases you’ll still be able to use the CE marking until 1st January 2022. The exception is if your product is for market in Great Britain, requires third-party conformity assessment or is covered by legislation which requires the UKCA marking. Goods which were fully manufactured, CE marked and ready before 1st January 2021 can still be sold in GB with the CE marking. Find out more here.
Any goods circulated before 1st January can continue on their journey until reaching their end user. Find out more about goods placed on the GB market here. You can find out about placing goods on the EU market here.
For information about export licencing post-Brexit, you can read the guidance here.
For updated information about rules of origin and tariffs, visit gov.uk here.
If you have an .eu domain name, you can read the new guidance on renewing and registering here.
News update: The New Deal for Consumers
The European Commission’ New Deal for Consumers is an overhaul of consumer law in the EU. Under the new legislation, fines will be imposed for breaches of consumer law to crack down on non-compliant businesses.
Make sure to prepare as soon as possible - the laws come into effect on 28th May 2022 and compliance will be essential.
You can read more about the New Deal for Consumers on the European Commissions website here
Importing, exporting and selling consumer goods have changed following the 1st January 2021. If you’re a business moving goods between Great Britain and the EU, you will no longer be able to import or export goods if you fail to comply with customs procedures and new regulations.
In this guide, we’ve put together key resources and information to keep you up to date with what we know so far about the changes and how businesses will be impacted. Along with our other guides on Brexit, we aim to help you be best placed to handle and prepare for the incoming changes.
What should businesses be doing now?
These first few steps and checks are essential to ensure you are best placed to handle post-Brexit business.
EORI number: apply for an EORI number starting with GB as soon as possible if you haven't done so already– ALL businesses moving goods in or out of Great Britain will need this. It only takes 5-10 minutes to apply and you should get a registration within 1 week. Visit www.gov.uk/eori for more information and to apply.
Intermediary: Using an intermediary to make declarations for you can help speed up and ensure accuracy of processes and prevent goods being held up.
Licences: you might need an import or export licence for your goods – make sure you have one if this is the case e.g. for chemicals or food.
VAT: don’t underestimate VAT. Be clear on your obligations and what you might have to pay.
Deferred declarations: can be helpful and enable you to pay duty on a direct debit basis instead of all in one go on individual consignments. This makes sense if you’re regularly moving goods in or out of Great Britain.
Top tip: if you’re regularly importing goods, you can have a duty account that makes things more efficient. A duty account will allow you to make payment via direct debit, rather than payments on each individual consignment.
Getting consumer goods in and out after Brexit
We can expect three stages of changes on controls on imported and exported goods being introduced. Compliance with these requirements is unavoidable so be sure to keep an eye on your responsibilities under them.
From 1st January 2021
Exports: full controls implemented
Controlled goods: full controls implemented for staged imports
Standard goods: Optional deferred declarations in place
From 1st April 2021
Animals and products of animal origin: full controls implemented
Plants and plant products: full controls implemented
From 1st July 2021
All goods: full controls implemented
These two guides from HMRC are a great resource and will help to get you clued up about the incoming changes and how to continue importing and exporting to and from the EU. They provide further information on how to prepare and what to do, from getting ready to import/export, to transit and everything in between.
Trading with Northern Ireland after Brexit
Changes begun from 1st January 2021 when the Northern Ireland Protocol came into effect. The protocol has triggered changes for goods movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, including different administrative procedures for traders e.g. new digital import declaration requirements.
You can read the full guidance on gov.uk [here] (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trading-and-moving-goods-in-and-out-of-northern-ireland-from-1-january-2021).
Trader Support Service (TSS)
The HMRC has developed a new free service for traders called the Trader Support Service (TSS). The service will help you cope with changes to moving goods to/from Northern Ireland and can even complete declarations for you!
Sign up here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service
Rules of Origin
If you have goods that are manufactured in more than one country, it’s important to understand how rules of origin will work from 1st January 2021.
What are rules of origin and why do they matter?
Now that the transition period has come to a close, exports will no longer be classed as ‘EU origin’ but rather ‘UK origin’. According to the government, these rules determine a product’s economic nationality, since goods imported/exported to particular countries may be subject to lower or no customs duty, whilst others may attract full excise.
Visit www.gov.uk/guidance/rules-of-origin for more detailed information and keep an eye on theses rules, as new rules will come into force for particular countries in the near future.
You can find a list of trade continuity agreements signed successfully by the UK here on .gov.uk
And you can use this really useful tool from .gov.uk to check what you need to do for which countries you’re trading with.
UK Global Tariffs: the new scheme (UKGT)
Manufacturers should be aware of this new scheme that aims to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to import from any country where the UK does not have a free trade agreement in place.
During the transition period (up to 31st December 2020), the EU common external tariff continued to apply. However, from 1st January 2021, the UKGT now applies to goods from countries with whom the UK does NOT have a trading agreement in place.
You can check which tariffs apply using this tool from .gov.uk. You’ll need your EORI code or a description of your product to use the government’s tool. There is help on the site to help you find out the commodity code if you don’t have it to hand.
Bilateral trade agreements – for businesses currently trading with EEA countries
These are agreements which the UK is hoping to sign in order to replace existing trade agreements in the EU. They’ll be relevant if you’re currently trading with other businesses in other EU countries and if you've previously been benefitting from the EU’s free trade and common market arrangements.
All agreements already signed by the UK with other countries are listed on the gov.uk site. Once in place the agreements enable you to continue trading as you did before the end of the transition period. However, where agreements are not in place by 1st January 2021, trade will take place on WTO terms.
To best prepare, by the end of this year, ensure that you check here to see if a trade continuity agreement has been signed by the UK with any country you are currently trading with, through an EU trade agreement or otherwise.
It also might be a good idea to sign up for email alerts from the transition team at gov.uk to stay up to date.
You can also make use of the Department for International Trade tool to check tax and duty rates, exporting documents, and rules and restrictions.
Placing goods on the market
It’s important to keep in mind that the guidance does NOT apply to goods on the market in Northern Ireland or goods flowing between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Different rules apply here which you will need to check.
- You will still be able mark products placed on the GB market with CE labelling if you use an EU Notified Body or self-certify until 1st January 2022
- Where required, you’ll need to use the CE marking for produced on the EU market
- You can use both markings (CE and UKCA) on a single product if being marketed in GB and the EU
- New approach products will be assessed by a GB ‘approved body’ against GB rules and will need UKCA marking from 1st January 2021 onwards.
- You can self-certify for the UKCA mark if you already do so for the CE mark – but the UK declaration of conformity will need to be completed for you to use the UKCA mark
- The standards to demonstrate compliance to the CE marking will be the same for the UKCA marking from January 2021.
Labelling and how to ensure new approach goods are labelled correctly
'New approach goods’ refer to those not already in circulation on the market. From 1st January 2021, conformity assessments by UK bodies will no longer be recognised in the EU and manufacturers will be required to have separate EU and UK certificates. You should now start to arrange for separate certificates in time for 1st January 2022 as there may be re-assessment needed before an additional certificate is issued.
The main change here relates to CE mark goods. From January 2022, you’ll need to use the UK’s new product mark – the new UKCA mark.
UK declaration of conformity will need to be completed for you to put UKCA mark on your goods, but compliance for the UKCA is essentially the same steps and standards as the current CE mark. Nothing will change if you presently self-certify for the CE mark – you can do the same for UKCA.
If you plan to continue to place products on the EU market, you’ll still need to use the CE mark. However, you should mark products both CE and UKCA if you intend to market goods in Great Britain and the EU (but be sure to check that the rules are met for both markets!).
Find out more about using the UKCA mark from 1 January 2021 here.
If you use a conformity assessment body:
All existing UK bodies currently accredited will automatically transfer over. If you use any conformity assessment body, make sure you know your options for these assessments going forward. Be sure to arrange for separate certificates for both CE and UKCA marks for those goods that will require both – delays may be expected so start the process now.
It is important to know that importers have a higher burden in terms of labelling and standards compliance obligations.
A conformity assessment is an important part of GB quality assurance, providing confidence in goods, services, management systems and people and helping to keep us safe, as well as economically and ecologically responsible. These assessments are also considered by the government and other national policy-makers to keep businesses competitive, to facilitate trade, create market advantage and encourage healthy market dynamics.
The assessment itself, which may be carried out by a range of different approved bodies on behalf of the government, aims to demonstrate that particular products/services do in fact meet the standards required of them and are as described on any label or in any particulars, and that they are compliant. Typically, conformity assessments will include testing (including, as relevant, the taking of samples), inspection and certification.
A conformity assessment body is an organisation authorised by government to carry out these assessments. UKAS is the UK’s solely appointed accreditation provider for conformity assessment bodies. All assessment bodies must meet UKAS’ requirements and standards. There are a number of accredited bodies in the UK. You can find out more about them here.
You’ll need to comply with each EEA country’s e-commerce rules you operate in. Previously, the directive harmonised it for UK traders, but it will no longer be of any benefit. The directive does not apply to all online services (check on the gov.uk website) but make sure you know whether your services were in scope and therefore require new compliance obligations.
These regulations affect online shopping, contracting and a variety of other services and goods. Search ‘ecommerce directive after the transition period’ on gov.uk. Compliance was needed by the 1st January 2020 otherwise so you now risk non-compliance if you don’t follow the key rules for online services in EEA countries.
What to do if you have a .eu domain name
If you’re not an EU/EEA citizen, resident or business that is established in the EU/EEA, you should consider using another domain. You should migrate services and functions that your EU domain is linked to as soon as possible.
IP rights and trademarks
Action will be needed on IP rights, so you may want to consider taking advice. You can find out more about Intellectual property after Brexit here.
Failure to take action might infringe intellectual property rights. From January 1st 2021 onwards, goods protected by intellectual property rights, which are placed on the UK market first, might be prevented from export to the EEA. You may need permission of the IP rights holder to continue with your involvement in the parallel export of IP-protected goods from the UK to the EEA.
Ultimately, parallel trading will be more arduous – permission will need to be sought from rights-holder for entry of IP-protected UK goods into each EEA member state. This means goods travelling between the EEA and UK may need IP licences for every country they’re being sold in. You’ll no longer benefit from the pre-Brexit umbrella assurance that if goods enter one EEA country with brand owner permission, then all other EEA countries are treated the same (parallel trading rules).
Following the end of the transition period, the IPO has created a UK right automatically for all registered EU trade marks and designs, but these are independent UK rights that will retain the renewal and filing dates of the EU right. You will therefore need to renew your ‘new’ UK right independently at the IPO. UK business still continue to have access to the Hague system. There will be very little impact on patents.
NB: the IPO is NOT an EEA agency.
See the following guidance from .gov.uk for more information: