Preparing for the UK leaving the EU
The UK has now left the EU. On 31st December 2020 the Transition Period ended and the UK left the single market and the customs union. There will be guaranteed changes for which we all - Government, business, and individuals - must adapt to.
You can check which changes apply to you on the official Government Transition website (Opens in a New Window)
The relevant advice for exiting the EU and actions that require immediate action differ depending on whether you are a business or individual. Click on the headers below to navigate to the right information for you.
I want to know more about
- Actions For Individuals To Take Now
- FAQs for Citizens
- Actions For Businesses To Take Now
- FAQs for Businesses
Travelling to the EU
From 1st January 2021 there will be new rules to travel to Europe. Things you may need to do before you go include:
• Check the validity of your passport.
• Get travel insurance that covers your healthcare.
• Check you have the right driving documents.
• Organise pet travel - contact your vet at least 4 months before you go.
• Check roaming policies with your mobile provider before travelling.
Staying in the UK if you're an EU citizen
Check if you need to apply to the EU settlement scheme (EUSS) if you or your family are from the EU, or from Switzerland, Norway,
Iceland or Liechtenstein.
Continue living and working in the EU
Living and working in EU, EEA EFTA, Switzerland and Ireland depends on the rules in that country:
• You may need to register or apply for residency.
• You should check that you’re covered for healthcare.
• You may also need to exchange your UK driving licence for a licence issued by the EU country where you live.
Do I need to do anything differently when visiting the EU?
• Register / apply for residency in the country you currently live.
• Make sure your passport is valid when applying for residency in the EU member state where you live.
• Register for healthcare in the country you currently live.
• Exchange your UK driving licence for a local one.
• You can check what you specifically need to do at GOV.UK/transition (Opens in a New Window).
• You can also sign up for ‘Living in Guide’ alerts.
I'm an EU citizen living in the UK. What do I need to do?
• If you are a European Economic Area or Swiss citizen living in the UK you can apply for Settled Status from now until 30th June 2021.
• The EU Settlement Scheme means you can continue to live and work in the UK. Apply now at GOV.UK/eusettledstatus (Opens in a New Window)
• You can check what you specifically need to do at GOV.UK/transition (Opens in a New Window).
I'm a British citizen/Irish citizen. Will my Common Travel Area right continue after the Transition Period?
• The Common Travel Area (CTA) pre-dates the UK and Ireland’s membership of the European Union and will continue after the end of the Transition Period.
• The UK Government and the Irish Government are firmly committed to the continuity of the CTA.
• Under the CTA British and Irish nationals have a unique status and can enjoy a range of reciprocal rights in each other’s countries.
• The CTA arrangements allow both British and Irish nationals to travel freely within this special area; this will not change
• Irish citizens in the UK and British citizens in Ireland have the right to work, study, and access social security and public services in each other’s countries. These rights will be maintained under the CTA.
What is the Withdrawal Agreement?
• The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and provides for a deal on citizens’ rights.
• You will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement if you are a UK national lawfully residing in another EU country by the end of the Transition Period, on 31st December 2020.
• The Withdrawal Agreement secures your rights and allows you to stay in the EU country where you live after 31st January 2020. You will continue to have broadly the same entitlements to work, study and access public services and benefits as before the UK left the EU.
• You and your family may need to apply for a residence status to confirm that you were already resident in the EU country you live in before 31st December 2020. You will have until at least 30th June 2021 to do this.
Check. Change. Go
All businesses should access the 'Brexit Checker Tool' to ensure they have done all they can to adapt to the changes that came into force from 1st January 2021. Some businesses may not be aware to the full extent, what effects the UK leaving the EU will have on trading arrangements. By consulting the Brexit Checker Tool now, businesses can ensure they are signposted to the correct information from government, to ensure legal compliance. Access the Brexit Checker Tool here (Opens in a New Window).
Businesses that have staff working between the UK and EU
If you travel to the EU for work purposes after 31st December 2020, you may need a visa or work permit. Further information can be found in the official guidance on visiting Europe from 1st January 2021 (Opens in a New Window).
Businesses that employ staff from the EU
Free movement is ending and the UK is introducing a new points-based immigration system. The way you hire from the EU is changing. From 1st January 2021, if you want to hire anyone from outside the UK you must be a Home Office licenced sponsor. This includes recruiting people from the EU. Anyone coming to the UK to work will need a job offer from a licenced sponsor in advance and will need to meet certain skills and salary criteria.
Find out more on the Government's guidance for employers webpage (Opens in a New Window).
Businesses that transfer data between the UK and the EU
Prepare for new rules around personal data. If you receive personal data from the EU for business use, you may need to take action on data protection. Find out more at the Government's transition website (Opens in a New Window)
Businesses that import and export goods
To continue to trade with the EU after 31st December 2020, you will need to follow new rules for exporting, including changes to
processes and licensing. Visit GOV.UK/transition (Opens in a New Window) to find out what you need to do.
• Get an EORI number if you do not already have one.
• Decide how you want to make customs declarations and
whether you need to get someone to deal with customs for
Businesses that deliver services between the UK and the EU
Ensure your staff are able to continue to practice and provide services to clients in the UK after 31st December 2020 by ensuring
their professional qualification(s) are recognised by their professional body in the UK. Further information can be found in the Government guidance for qualifications recognised in the UK (Opens in a New Window).
Businesses that label products and/or package goods - Product Safety and Standards guidance
The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), has produced a range of updated guidance and advice to help ensure businesses understand what is expected of them, including on issues such as the use of the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking. The guidance now includes a ‘What’s changed?’ summary guide to key changes. It also provides a clear indication of what rules and regulations have come into effect now that the Transition Period has come to an end.
View further guidance on UK product safety and metrology (Opens in a New Window).
Trading with the EU and Northern Ireland - SME Toolkit
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has produced a toolkit for small and medium-sized enterprises to help them identify the decisions and actions they need to make to continue trading with the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
The document provides an overview of actions to take outlines support, helplines and resources that may be useful for SMEs and signposts to more detailed guidance on government websites. The Council has been asked by Government to publish the toolkit on it's website.
New timeline for border control processes on import of goods
The Government has set out a new timetable for introducing import border control processes. It will now introduce full border control processes on the 1st January 2022, six months later than originally planned. This will provide businesses with further time to prepare for changes at the border and minimise disruption.
The revised timetable includes:
- Pre-notification requirements for Products of Animal Origin (POAO), certain animal by-products (ABP), and High Risk Food Not Of Animal Origin (HRFNAO) will not be required until 1 October 2021. Export Health Certificate requirements for POAO and certain ABP will come into force on the same date;
- Customs import declarations will still be required, but the option to use the deferred declaration scheme, including submitting supplementary declarations up to six months after the goods have been imported, has been extended to 1st January 2022;
- Safety and Security Declarations for imports will not be required until 1st January 2022;
- Physical Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks for POAO, certain ABP, and HRFNAO will not be required until 1st January 2022. At that point they will take place at Border Control Posts;
- Physical SPS checks on high risk plants will take place at Border Control Posts, rather than at the place of destination as now, from 1st January 2022;
- Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks, including phytosanitary certificates will be required for low risk plants and plant products, and will be introduced from 1st January 2022;
- From March 2022, checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low risk plants and plant products.
I'm a business. Do I need to do anything specific?
• Your business will have to make a number of changes to ensure continued flow of people, data, goods and services between the UK and the EU. These actions are required for businesses:
• If you sell goods to the EU you must prepare for new customs procedures.
• If you travel to the EU for work purposes you will need to check if you need a visa or work permit and apply if necessary.
• If you employ overseas nationals you will need to prepare your business for the implementation of the new immigration system.
• If you are a UK business or organisation that receives personal data from contacts in the EEA, you may need to take extra steps to ensure that the data can continue to flow at the end of the Transition Period.
• If you provide services in the EU, you must ensure that your qualifications are now recognised by EU regulations to be able to
practice or service clients in the EU. Yes. Many of the changes and opportunities that are coming at the end of the year relate to
Will I be able to hire EU nationals in the future, under what conditions?
• Yes - but the way you hire from the EU is changing. Free movement is ending and the UK is introducing a new points-based immigration system.
• From 1st January 2021, if you want to hire anyone from outside the UK you must be a Home Office licenced sponsor. This includes recruiting people from the EU.
• Anyone coming to the UK to work will need a job offer from a licenced sponsor in advance, and will need to meet certain skills and salary criteria.
How can my company continue to trade cross-border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain?
• As set out in the Command Paper on 20th May 2020, the government is committed to working closely with businesses as we implement the Northern Ireland Protocol - they are at the heart of our approach.
• That is reflected in the commitments the government has made: to unfettered access to the whole UK market; to no tariffs on goods remaining in the UK’s customs territory; to NI benefiting in full from the UK’s FTAs with third countries; and
to streamlining the processes under the Protocol to the maximum extent - to ensure there is no new customs infrastructure.
• Businesses have access to the Trader Support Service, providing an end-to-end service, which will guide traders through all import processes at no additional cost. This is a unique intervention, backed by £200m in government funding, ensuring that businesses of all sizes can draw on the support it provides.
• Check the guidance and find help and support here.
My business is primarily based in the EU - what do I need to do?
• If you run an EU-based business, you need to check the new rules and prepare for the changes so that you can continue trading with the UK from January 2021.
• Rules are changing and there will be border requirements placed on the movement of goods between the EU and UK.
• Check the guidance and find help and support at GOV.UK/eubusiness (Opens in a New Window).
Where can I find out more?
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have created a Business Support Helpline (0800 998 1098), for helping businesses in England identify the actions they need to take. Businesses can also call HMRC’s Customs and International Trade Helpline and speak to an adviser on 0300 322 9434 or get in touch by webchat or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.