FAQs on business regulations after the transition period

Frequently asked questions on business regulations to help your tech business prepare for the UK’s new relationship with the EU

After the transition period the UK will have left the EU Single Market, this will mean businesses will no longer have access to the frictionless trade in goods or services that the UK held as an EU member state.

Supplying both goods and services will need to consider the regulatory and legal implications relevant to their activities and operations. While the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) has reduced the potential barriers there are still significant non-tariff barriers that will need to be navigated.

Business trading between the EU and UK should seek to follow Government guidance and, where needed, independent legal advice.


Will there be changes to how services are provided between the UK and EU/EEA after the UK leaves the EU?

Once the UK leaves the EU, UK service providers will no longer have access to the relevant EEA regulations for cross-border trade in services.

The impact on UK services providers could include restrictions on movement of professionals, access to talent, lack of recognition of professional qualifications and changes to rights to establishment.

The specific impact will depend on the type of services being provided and the manner in which those services are provided e.g. remote provision of services, travel to provide the service, or establishing a commercial presence overseas.

These changes will affect UK businesses providing services in the EEA, and EEA businesses providing services in the UK. There will be changes to how services are regulated and how professional qualifications obtained in the EEA and Switzerland are recognised in the UK.

UK businesses providing services in the EEA will no longer be covered by the EU Services Directive.

UK businesses and service providers may face additional legal, regulatory and administrative barriers as a result. UK businesses will no longer be treated as if they were local (EU) businesses.

Services provided by UK businesses and professionals will be regarded as originating from a ‘third country’. You will therefore need to check the rules in each EU country into which you provide services. g

Guidance from the European Commission can be found here.

The UK Government has also provided country by country guides, as well as additional guidance for lawyers and auditors.


What is the impact of Brexit on conformity processes? Will the UK stop accepting CE marking? And will UKCA marking be accepted in the EU?

After the transition period the UK will begin a phased implementation of the UKCA mark.

The UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking is a new UK product marking that will be used for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). It covers most goods which previously required the CE marking.

CE marking will still be accepted as a valid for placing goods on the Great Britain market until 1 January 2022, after which UKCA marking must be used for all new products which have yet to be placed on the Great Britain market. 

Unless otherwise agreed in negotiations from 1 January 2021 UK conformity assessment bodies will no longer be able to carry out mandatory conformity assessment for products being placed on the EU market. UKCA marking will not be accepted on the EU market unless otherwise agreed.

If you manufacture products that currently require a CE mark please read carefully Government guidance on: 


What actions will businesses regulated by REACH need to take?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will become the UK’s chemicals regulator after the transition period. The HSE has have produced guidance for the chemicals sector which can be found here.


Have the UK and EU come to an agreement on audio and visual services?

No. The EU does not place agreemements on audio and visual services in free trade agreements with third countries. Therefore no agreement was reached in the UK-EU TCA to cover audio and visual services.

However many audio and visual services are provided across the EEA using a non-EU based framework known as the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT). This continues to apply, but does not cover all EU Member States.

Companies providing video on demand services or other audio and visual services should refer to guidance from the UK Government found here and here.


Will there be changes to the E-Commerce directive and the country of origin principal?

The  eCommerce Directive currently allows EEA online service providers to operate in any EEA country, while only following relevant rules in the country in which they are established. This framework will no longer apply to UK providers as the UK will have left the EEA

You should consider whether your services are currently in scope of the Directive, and if so, ensure that you are compliant with relevant requirements in each EEA country you operate in.

Depending on the nature of your online services you may already comply with these requirements. This could mean that there are little or no immediate changes you need to make to be compliant from 1 January 2021. You may also wish to seek legal advice.

The UK Government will fully remove the eCommerce Directive’s Country of Origin principle from UK legislation, to bring EEA online service providers in scope of UK laws, which they were previously exempt from. As this principle is found in a number of pieces of legislation it will be removed at different points, when parliamentary time allows.

The eCommerce Directive also contains provisions relating to intermediary liability and prohibitions against imposing general monitoring obligations. The Government has no current plans to change the UK’s intermediary liability regime or its approach to prohibition on general monitoring requirements.

Government guidance on changes to the e-commerce directive can be found here.


What happens if I or my company uses a .eu domain name?

From 1 January 2021, you’ll no longer be able to register or renew .eu domain names if your organisation, business or undertaking is established in the UK but not in the EU/European Economic Area (EEA) or you live outside of the EU/EEA and are not an EU/EEA citizen

Read the latest .eu domain names notice from the European Commission.

You can only register or hold .eu domain names if you are, an EU/EEA citizen, independently of where you live, not an EU/EEA citizen but resident in the EU/EEA, an organisation, business or undertaking that is established in the EU/EEA.

If you already have a .eu domain or are considering obtaining one, you should check the eligibility criteria set out in Article 4(2)(b) of Regulation (EC) No 733/2002, as amended by Regulation (EU) 2019/517, and seek legal advice if necessary.

UK Government guidance for those who hold .eu domain names can be found here.


How will EU Exit impact patents?

You can continue to apply for, and be granted, a patent by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The requirements and processes for grant will not change, nor will the rights you obtain when a patent is granted.

The UK will continue to be a participating state in the European Patent Convention. This is not an EU treaty, and does not require a country to be an EU Member State to participate.

You can therefore continue to apply to the European Patent Office (EPO) for patent protection which will cover the UK. Existing patents from the EPO are also unaffected. European Patent Attorneys based in the UK can continue to represent applicants at the EPO.

More information on patents can be found in the government guidance here.


How will EU Exit impact trademarks?

Existing trademarks: for all registered European Union Trade Marks (EUTMs), those EUTMs will continue to be effective in the EU.

They will stop being effective in the UK, but the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will automatically create comparable UK trademarks, which will be recorded on the UK register.

These comparable UK rights will retain the filing dates recorded against the corresponding EUTM and will also inherit any priority and/or seniority dates. They will be fully independent UK trade marks which can be challenged, assigned, licensed or renewed, separately from the original EUTM.

After the UK leaves the EU, business, organisations and individuals with an EU trade mark and community design applications which are ongoing at the date of exit will be able to refile with the Intellectual Property Office under the same terms for a UK equivalent right. 

Further information is available from the government on trademarks and registered design rights.


How will EU Exit impact copyright?

Copyright is largely harmonised internationally by a number of treaties. Although the UK is leaving the EU, UK and EU copyright works (e.g. books, films and music) will continue to be protected in the EU and UK respectively because of the international treaties on copyright (e.g. the Berne Convention and the TRIPS Agreement), which require all treaty countries to protect works originating in any other treaty country to a minimum standard.

Our participation in these treaties does not depend on our membership of the EU.

There will however be some changes to UK copyright law from 1 January 2021. Detailed UK Government guidance on copyright can be found here.