Importing after the Brexit transition period: 2-minute guide for startups

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The key information and guidance you need to know if your startup imports from the EU and elsewhere.

Read time: 2 minutes

  • Changes to tariffs for imports explained

  • A Brexit import checklist that covers taxes, product regulations, and more

  • What a “light-touch” border regime from the EU means

What we know

The Brexit transition period will end on 31 December 2020, bringing in a new set of rules around importing goods to the EU for businesses of all sizes. This will include customs, tariffs, VAT, safety and security, documentation, vehicle standards, and controlled products. There is currently no trade deal agreed between the UK and EU.

As it stands, from 1 January 2021, UK businesses trading with EU countries will need to follow processes they currently use when trading with non-EU countries that have no existing trade agreement in place. In addition, UK businesses that trade abroad may be affected from 1 January 2021 even if they do not trade with the EU. This is because any trading agreements between the EU and non-EU countries will no longer apply to UK businesses from 1 January.


If there is no trade deal agreed, World Trade Organisation tariffs will apply to all imports into the UK from 1 January 2020 both for EU and non-EU goods. At the moment all EU imports into the UK are duty-free but under the new tariffs duty will be payable on some EU imports.

“Light touch” border regime

The UK government has proposed a “light-touch” border regime for goods from the EU, to help ease disruption. In practice this means that the government does not require importers into the UK to produce post-Brexit customs declarations or pay any tariffs between 1 January and 30 June 2021. This approach will be known as the Customs Freight Simplified Procedure Entry in Declarants Records (CFSP EIDR).

If  no trade agreement is agreed, the EU will have to enforce full customs and regulatory checks on goods being imported from the UK as it is bound by Single Market rules  not to offer special terms to a country without a trade agreement.

Post-transition import checklist for your startup

  • Check your contracts to determine whether you are obliged to arrange the import as a declarant

  • Research the details on product regulation that may apply to your goods

  • Examine the new rules set to change on marking, labelling and marketing standards – you can find out more here.

  • Check the changes to licences, certificates and special rules for bringing goods into the UK that may apply to you. You might need to pay an inspection fee for some goods before they’re allowed into the UK

  • Get your Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. You need an EORI number to move goods between the UK and non-EU countries. If you do not have one, you may have increased costs and delays. You can find out how to get an EORI number here.

  • Check whether the goods you are importing are classified as standard, controlled or high-risk

  • Stay alert to new tariffs and how they may apply, implications for VAT on imports, and what new customs checks will impact the supply chain. More information on import VAT can be found here.

  • Alert customers and suppliers that delivery dates could be delayed. Disruption at the borders is predicted, especially in a no-deal scenario.


For more guidance on how to prepare for the end of the transition, visit our Brexit Hub.

The information contained in this article is correct at the time of publishing. We recommend that you carry out your own independent research to understand how exporting after the end of the transition period will affect you and your business.

We have pulled the resources on this page together for you to help with your independent research and business decisions. This page contains [link(s) to third party websites and resources that we (Barclays) are not providing or recommending to you.

Barclays (including its employees, Directors and agents) accepts no responsibility and shall have no liability in contract, tort or otherwise to any person in connection with this content or the use of or reliance on any information or data set out in this email unless it expressly agrees otherwise in writing. It does not constitute an offer to sell or buy any security, investment, financial product or service and does not constitute investment, professional, legal or tax advice, or a recommendation with respect to any securities or financial instruments.

The information, statements and opinions contained in this content are of a general nature only and do not take into account your individual circumstances including any laws, policies, procedures or practices you, or your employer or businesses may have or be subject to. Although the statements of fact on this page have been obtained from and are based upon sources that Barclays believes to be reliable, Barclays does not guarantee their accuracy or completeness.


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