Brexit – Only 75% of businesses are ready. Are you?

December 29, 2020 by Christine Frith
Brexit – Only 75% of businesses are ready. Are you?

Brexit. Love it or loathe it, but when our 12 month transition period comes to an end on 31st December, 2021, you may be surprised to learn about some of the changes that come with it. If you’re an importer or exporter or sell services into the EU, you’re no doubt aware of the new paperwork and processes but even if you only offer services or sell goods within the UK, you may be surprised to learn that there are new ways of working for you too.

Only 52% UK businesses have carried out a risk assessment about how the end of transition will impact them. 

UK Chambers of Commerce September 2020

Here are just a few of the more common actions that many of us may need to take to be Brexit prepared.

A last minute deal may negate some of these, however, experts believe that even if a deal is agreed, many of the finer details will not be ironed out until well into the new year.

Importing and exporting goods

The processes and paperwork used to import and export goods will change after 31st December, 2020. If you haven’t already done so, visit the Brexit transition website to learn what you need to do. 

Providing a service to companies in the EU

If you sell services to residents of EU countries, you will face changes.

Some may be positive, such as not needing to register for and charge VAT, some may mean additional paperwork.

If you provide services such as marketing to accountancy, training or legal advice, this will impact you.

Visit the Brexit transition website to learn what you need to do. 


Add value or on-sell goods imported from the EU   

There will be delays at ports. Work out what you will do if you can’t get the goods or components you need. 

Review your contracts and ensure they stipulate who is liable for any consequences arising from late deliveries – is it you? Your carrier? Or the exporter?


Audit your workforce. 

Everyone you employ from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland needs to have settled or pre-settled status by 30th June, 2021 to legally remain and work in the UK. It’s free to them to apply for this status.

Consider updating employment contracts to state that employees must have the right to work in the UK. This will cover your business from potential issues.

Think about your talent pipeline. Will you face a skills shortage from the new UK immigration policy that comes into effect on 1st January, 2021?

Business travellers

For visiting EU countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland:

  • You need 6 months remaining on your passport on the day you travel.
  • Your passport must be less than 10 years old.

It is not relevant when visiting Ireland.

Check your travel insurance includes health cover as your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid.

You may need a visa to travel to Europe for business. Find advice here.

EU ID cards will no longer be valid for travel into the UK.

If your EU employees usually travel on this, they will now need a passport.

Taking creative, cultural or sporting goods into the EU

If you want to take your equipment into the EU and then return it to the UK, then you will need a carnet.

There’s more detail in this link but in short, without it, you need to declare and pay duties every time your goods go through customs.

This refers to goods such as camera equipment, sporting goods, musical instruments, make up etc.


GDPR is to be retained in domestic law at the end of the transition period but the UK is independent so will keep the framework under review. 

The key principles, rights and obligations will remain the same. However, there are implications for the rules on transfers of personal data between the UK and the EEA. Visit the Information Commissioner’s Office for more information.

Intellectual Property

From 1 January 2021, the UK Intellectual Property Office will create a “re-registered UK design” for every international design (EU) that is currently protected.  

The holder of an international design application in the EU has nine months to apply for the same right as a UK design.

Contact an IP solicitor for guidance on this.

There is lots to think about and only a few days to go until the end of the transition period.

If you would like bespoke guidance, in the first instance visit the Brexit transition website and answer a set of intuitive questions about you and your business. This will flag up all the areas where you may need to take action either immediately or in the near future.

If you need support – or help with any ‘business as usual’ activities – contact the Hour Hands team.