Importing and exporting goods: The UK’s new relationship with the EU

As a consequence of the UK leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, the way businesses in Great Britain trade goods with the EU has changed.

To export goods to the EU your business now needs to comply with new customs procedures, including UK export declarations and import requirements on entry to EU Member States. For importing goods into the UK, border controls are being introduced in stages to give businesses time to adapt, with full customs checks applying from January 2022.

You can continue to import and export goods tariff and quota free, provided that those goods meet the ‘Rules of Origin’ requirements set out in the agreement. These rules relate to the amount of UK or EU content in a particular good and the amount of processing which goods undergo in the UK or EU before export. Together these determine whether goods qualify as UK or EU originating and therefore qualify for zero tariffs and quotas. Goods that have not been sufficiently produced or processed in the UK or EU cannot be re-exported tariff free under the agreement’s preferential tariff rate. The VAT and excise rules that apply to goods coming into or leaving the UK from or to EU countries and non-EU countries are now the same.

If you move, buy or sell animals or plants, or their products from or to the EU, you now need to comply with rules for protecting human, plant and animal health to ensure that you can continue to trade freely, such as health certification, new biosecurity requirements and border checks. Certain animal products such as chilled meats (e.g. sausages and mincemeat) and some plant species can no longer be exported to the EU. The agreement commits the UK and EU to hold regular reviews of their respective SPS border controls with the aim of reducing the burden of such controls to facilitate trade without compromising biosecurity.

The UK now has autonomy over the technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures required to place products on the UK market. To place goods on the UK market, you will need to meet UK regulatory requirements, and to place goods on the EU market you will need to meet EU regulatory requirements. Where conformity assessment procedures require approval from a third party conformity assessment body, you will need to obtain certification in both the UK and the EU if your products are to be sold in both. The UK Conformity Assessment (UKCA) mark will be used to demonstrate compliance of products in the UK, whilst the CE mark will continue to be used to demonstrate compliance of products in the EU. To support business in adjusting to this change, the UK is allowing most CE marked goods to continue to be placed on the GB market until 1 January 2022.

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