FAQs on importing and exporting goods after the transition period

Frequently asked questions on importing and exporting goods to help your tech business prepare for the UK’s new relationship with the EU


The UK and EU have reached a tariff and quota free deal for the trade in goods between the UK and EU. 

The UK Government has released a detailed border operating model that confirms the arrangements for the UK border. New importing and exporting arrangements will be phased in at the UK border in three stages, with stage 1 taking place in January 2021, stage 2 in April 2021 and stage 3 on July 2021.

Full details of the UK border operating model can be found here.

Guidance for importing goods from the EU into the UK can be found here, while guidance for exporting goods from the UK to the EU can be found here.

You can also find here information on rules of origin. Demonstrating the origin of your good is vital to determining whether you can take advantage of the tariff and quota free trade agreed between the UK and the EU.

Detailed informantion on what has been agreed between the UK and EU on rules of origin can be found here

UK Government guidance for meeting rules of origin requirements can be found here.


What are the key considerations for businesses making supplies of goods between the UK and the EU?

Shipments of physical goods between the EU and UK become imports and exports and will no longer be intra EU movements after the transition period.

There are therefore a number of changes to importing and exporting goods that businesses will need to address after the end of the transition period.

  • Consider the contractual terms of sale, and the obligations you are prepared to take on when selecting an Incoterm.
  • Ensure that you have a UK EORI number for importing to and exporting from the UK and if relevant an EU EORI number for importing to and exporting from the EU.
  • Familiarise yourself with the relevant customs declaration forms and ensure that your ERP systems, internal records and data sources can provide the required data elements to complete these forms or to instruct how it is to be made out.
  • Determine whether you are able to do these declarations yourself or appoint a customs broker.
  • Review your supply chain to identify any potential duty pinch points. If there are various UK to EU movements, or vice-versa, consider whether there are opportunities to simplify, rationalise or consolidate these movements and reduce the number of declarations and mitigate any additional customs duties or other costs.
  • Consider whether there are any Customs Special Procedures, such as Inward Processing Relief or a Customs Warehouse that could assist in mitigating the increased costs if your products do not attract a zero rate of duty.
  • Check the regulations that apply to your products and whether there will be changes to your legal obligations.
  • After the transition period goods entering the UK from the EU will become UK imports and EU exports for VAT purposes (as opposed to the intra-EU movement of goods) – and vice versa.
  • Import VAT will be due on these goods, and sales will become exports rather than dispatches. Check for other changes to VAT accounting, particularly if you currently use EU VAT simplifications.
  • Check if Transit applies. The UK will remain part of the Common Transit Convention (CTC) after Brexit. This allows for goods to move between signatory countries whilst transiting through another country (e.g. France to Ireland via the UK) without the need to make a customs declaration until the goods arrive at the country of destination. Transit therefore helps to avoid additional customs declarations and also allows the goods to travel without payments of duty until the goods arrive at their destination.
  • Review Government guidance on importing goods.
  • Review Government guidance on exporting goods.


I move goods to and from Northern Ireland, what impact will the end of the transition period have on my business?

At the end of the transition period, the Northern Ireland Protocol will take effect.

The Protocol is a practical solution to avoid a hard border with Ireland whilst ensuring the UK, including Northern Ireland, leaves the EU as a whole, enabling the entire UK to agree future free trade agreements.

There will be special provisions which apply only in Northern Ireland while the Protocol is in force. The UK Government has provided guidance and support for businesses engaging in new processes under the Northern Ireland protocol.

See here detailed guidance on moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021. This also includes guidance on VAT.