UK-EU trade deal: What businesses must do now to get prepared for 2021


As the UK and EU reach a Brexit deal, companies can now rest assured that there will be some political framework for future trade as well as economic cooperation. However, while the deal is good news for firms, Business West is urging companies to act now to get prepared for 1st January 2021.

One of the most crucial steps companies can take is to ensure they understand how to complete and submit customs declarations correctly.

Commenting on the announcement, Catherine Stephens, Head of International Trade Services at Business West said:

“Businesses have faced a great deal of uncertainty over the last four years, so the announcement of a deal will provide firms with much needed security.

“However, the new deal does not mean companies do not need to take action to get prepared for the new year. 

“It is imperative that companies are prepared for the completion of custom declarations when trading with the EU. Completing them can be complicated and if they include any errors, this can cause avoidable delays and costs at the border.

“With years of experience in international trade and as an accredited Chamber of Commerce, we are ready to support companies through this challenging period.”

Business West is offering Customs Declarations Training to educate companies on the processes involved when completing the documents. 

The following are the crucial steps businesses need to take to prepare for 1st January:

• Apply for postponed VAT accounting – this allows you to defer paying VAT upon importation of goods. Instead your import VAT will be paid on your usual VAT return:

•Apply for a Duty Deferment Account – this will allow you to defer paying your import duty and duty can be paid once a month rather than every time you import your goods. Currently HMRC has waived the need to put up a Customs Comprehensive Guarantee and, if you qualify, will give you a £10,000 credit limit per month. More information can be found here:

•Check your commodity codes. You need to ensure you are using the correct Commodity Code for your goods. There are many implications such as financial or criminal penalties if you are using the wrong codes. Businesses can check here: 

• Check whether import duty may be payable on your goods after 1st January 2021 if importing goods from the EU:  

• If trading with Northern Ireland – register on the TSS Trader Support Service: 

• Check you have a GB EORI number – you cannot trade with the EU if you do not have an EORI number: 

• If trading with Northern Ireland – ensure you have an XI EORI number. You cannot trade with NI without one.

•Check current trade agreements – you need to check the detail of each trade agreement with each country to ensure your goods can be imported using the correct procedures (for example – using the correct document to claim preferential origin): 

•Ensure you have a Customs broker in place to process your import/export declarations from 1st January. 

Firms can also visit Business West’s award winning web-advice platform, Trading Through Brexit, to get up to date information on how to prepare for the post-Brexit changes to international trade.