18 Jul 2019

Policy area: Brexit

Getting Ready for Brexit

General Advice for Businesses

When the UK leaves the EU, there may be changes that affect businesses. The Government has produced a short leaflet that contains some actions that businesses should take, if not already taken.

And there is a tool that provides headline guidance based on the answers to a very short questionnaire (we would recommend most businesses begin here as it is a very useful starting point).

Further advice on continuing to operate in the EU after Brexit that applies in common scenarios such as if you are planning a merger, have nominated persons or need to be mindful of consumer rights in the course of your business, and accounting implications are available here (although the issues are covered in greater detail under relevant headings under the questionnaire linked in the paragraph above).

No Deal Preparations

While we have no reason to think No Deal is the most probable outcome of negotiations, fewer than 100 days lie between now and 31 October. We are therefore circulating this refresher on useful guidance that is pertinent to development and real estate.

Importing or Exporting Goods

There may be changes to UK and EU trade at the UK border including on customs, tariffs and VAT. Headline steps include applying for a UK Economic Operator Registration Number to enable continued trade with the EU and check on importing and exporting responsibilities via guidance here.

More specific guidance concerning construction products is available, given the implications for testing and CE marking. MHCLG’s guidance includes an explanation of the details of a statutory instrument laid last December detailing arrangements that would apply.

Providing Services to EEA and EFTA Countries

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK businesses will no longer operate under European Economic Area Regulations for the cross-border trade in services. This means that rights and protections provided by the EU Directives and EU Treaty rights of Freedom of Movement and Establishment will cease to apply to the UK. In effect, whereas UK businesses are treated as local businesses currently, thereafter, UK firms will be regarded as ‘third country’ and may face additional hurdles as a result whether from a legal, regulatory or administrative point of view.

Helpful guides have been assembled by the Government to help companies navigate local rules here.

Employing Non-UK EU Citizens

You will still be able to employ EU citizens as you do now and be required to continue to conduct the same right to work checks. There is an employer toolkit available, including materials for briefing employees and information for non-UK EU citizens, here.

Intellectual Property

If you hold intellectual property, there may be changes which affect copyright, patents, designs and trade-marks. The Intellectual Property Office has produced a briefing here.

Transferral of Personal Data

If you send or receive personal data from international partners, including in the European Economic Area, there may be implications post-Brexit. You can find out more under using personal data after Brexit or follow the Information Commissioner’s six-step guide.

Receiving European Funding

The Government has guaranteed any funding secured through existing EU programmes through until the end of 2020. Further details on the plans for specific programs are available here, including specific actions to take if you are in receipt of Horizon 2020 or Direct Bid funding. 

Public Sector Procurement after Brexit

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, the public procurement regulations will remain unchanged during any implementation period. Notices for UK contract opportunities will still be accessed on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) Tenders Electronic Daily (TED). 

If there is No Deal, a new specific e-notification service will replace OJEU TED and will be ready for when the UK leaves the EU. The following page contains the latest information and will be updated as we get closer to the UK’s departure.

VAT on Imports

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, from 11pm UK time on 31 October 2019, businesses registered for VAT in the UK will be able to account for import VAT on their VAT return rather than pay when, or soon after, the goods arrive at the UK border.

This will apply to goods from both EU and non-EU countries and will help businesses currently moving goods into the UK from other EU member states to reduce any cash flow impacts after the UK leave the EU.

Businesses or individuals who are not VAT registered in the UK will not be able to account for import VAT in this way. They’ll need to pay import VAT up front at the time of import.  Further guidance is available here.

For further information, please contact Patrick Brown, Head of Insights and EU Engagement.