How businesses have adapted to new trading rules with Europe – About Your Online Magazine

Companies that have not yet prepared themselves for the new trade rules with Europe, which took effect from January 1, are being urged to act now to help ensure that they can continue to trade smoothly.

Although the United Kingdom has secured a zero tariff and zero quota agreement, doing business and traveling to Europe has changed.

Now that the UK has left the EU customs union and the single market, there are new rules and processes that companies will have to follow.

Companies need to follow new rules on exports, imports, tariffs, qualifications, hiring and travel and can face disruptions unless they have verified what the changes mean for them.

The government said it will continue to work closely with companies to ensure that they are able to negotiate effectively under the new rules and it is essential that those who have not yet taken action check whether they need to.

Companies must now make customs declarations when exporting goods to the EU


Kevin Stevens said his Essex-based logistics company was prepared for the trade changes that took place on January 1.

His company, Woodland Group, which manages a global supply chain in Europe, the United States and Asia, immediately implemented a series of measures to ensure that the business would continue to operate once the UK left the EU.

This included creating more storage capacity to facilitate longer delivery times and preparing to move cargo along alternative routes where delays occurred.

“We knew there would be significant challenges, especially during the first weeks of 2021 and we gave our customers informed and honest opinions about where we thought the main issues would arise so they could plan accordingly,” said Mr. Stevens.

He said one way for his company to stay ahead of supply chain blockages was to hold regular meetings with industry bodies that understood the new rules.

“We wanted to make sure that we had the most up-to-date and accurate information available and we were able to do that thanks to the various trade and customs groups of which we are members,” said Stevens.

The company transports up to 8,000 shipments per month to and from Europe and has had to ensure that the processes are in place to handle the extra paperwork that is now needed.

Asked about the advice he would give to other companies, Mr. Stevens said: “Everyone needs to adjust to these changes and, understanding that they are here to stay, implement relevant processes.

“For other logistics companies: it is necessary to invest in systems and people to effectively guide importers / exporters. These were certainly unprecedented difficult times.

“For importers and exporters who wish to negotiate with the EU, it is important to create a two-way flow of information to educate one another about changes and to take time to prepare.

“Consider getting in touch with logistics experts who have dedicated processes and administrative support to work with the new changes and take over the administrative work.”

Companies should use the Brexit verification tool in for a personalized list of actions.

To give traders more time to prepare, new border controls are being introduced in three phases. Companies that import from the EU should check the requirements that will start in April and July and make sure they are prepared.

Boris Johnson signing the EU-UK Cooperation and Trade Agreement on December 30


Alison Wood, founder of Scottish sustainable hygiene brand Lilypads, made changes to her business to avoid disruptions when the UK’s new business relationship with the rest of the EU began.

She said the fact that the business is used to shipping to Africa means that they are prepared for a similar process with countries in Europe – although they are much closer to home.

“We export to Kenya, so importing from Lithuania didn’t seem like such a big leap,” she said.

“I used the Brexit checker on the website and that was very good at pointing out some of the things we hadn’t thought of.

“We exported British materials and brought them back from Lithuania, so we had to prepare to be able to declare the amount of material we sent and how many blocks are coming back.”

Companies should use the government’s Brexit scan tool for more details


Anthony Pickering, president of Control Techniques of Powys, Wales, which designs and manufactures electric motor control technology, exports to 77 countries around the world.

He said: “Planning has been the root cause of our success since January 1, because we depend on our supply chain.

“We had to tighten our supply chain, which meant going to our suppliers and making sure they were ready, and we had contingency plans in place – for example, if the port of Dover was blocked.

“They had to prove that their suppliers also had a plan, covering all the way back to the supply chain.”

  • To continue negotiating with the EU, companies need to follow new rules for import and export, including changes to customs and licensing processes.
  • Most companies use a specialist, such as a customs broker, freight forwarder or quick order operator, to handle import and export declarations.

Avoiding border delays

  • Carriers can use the ‘Check HGV is ready’ service to make sure they have the right paperwork and must obtain a negative Covid-19 test and Kent access permit if they plan to travel via Dover or Eurotunnel.

Help with paperwork is available

  • Most companies use a specialist, such as a customs broker, freight forwarder or quick order operator, to handle import and export declarations.
  • The government has made more than £ 80 million available to expand the capacity of the customs broker market.
  • The government also recently announced an additional £ 20 million to help SMEs adjust to new customs, rules of origin and VAT rules in trade with the EU.

Purchase of EU goods or gifts

  • The UK has left the EU customs union and the single market, which means that there are new rules and processes that companies need to follow.
  • Depending on the value of the goods sent as a gift, import VAT will be applied to gifts from the EU, just as they do from the rest of the world.
  • It is a business issue for companies and parcel operators as they handle any costs associated with trade in goods between the GB and the EU, but there is no import VAT on goods below £ 135 (unless products with special taxes) therefore, customers should not be charged.

Moving goods to Northern Ireland

  • The free Trader Support Service is ready to support companies that transport goods. There are grace periods in effect for certain products and there are schemes such as the Movement Assistance Scheme to support companies in the agri-food industry.

More help is available

  • Broad support remains available to help companies negotiate safely between the UK and the EU and manage new processes.
  • This includes dedicated helplines, webinars with policy experts, step-by-step guides, video explainers and the Brexit Checker tool for customized actions to suit individual circumstances.

Paula Fonseca