Taxation and Customs Union

BREXIT: End of the transition period

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On 31 December 2020, the transition period for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU ended. This means that the UK is now formally a third country and EU law no longer applies there.

For the purposes of customs, the UK is treated as any other non-EU country as of 1 January 2021. In particular, customs procedures and formalities now apply to trade between the UK and the EU.

However, in accordance with the agreed Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, EU customs rules and procedures generally continue to apply to goods entering and leaving Northern Ireland.

What does this mean for me and my business?

Frequently Asked Questions on the end of the transition

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU will affect your company if:

  • it sells goods or supplies services to the UK
  • it buys goods or receives services from the UK
  • it moves goods through the UK
  • it uses UK materials and goods to trade under preferential schemes with EU partner countries.

In the area of tax and customs, this means, for example:

  • You need to file customs declarations when importing or exporting any goods to/from Great Britain (the UK excluding Northern Ireland) or when moving your goods through Great Britain.
  • You may need to provide security and safety data, in addition to the customs declaration.
  • You need a special licence to import or export certain goods (e.g. waste, certain hazardous chemicals, GMOs). You need to comply with additional formalities if importing or exporting excise goods (alcohol, tobacco, or fuel) to/from Great Britain.
  • You will have to comply with different VAT rules and procedures for transactions with Great Britain than for transactions within the EU and with Northern Ireland.

To assist businesses, the Commission has published detailed guidelines on a wide range of specific topics. In the area of tax and customs, the relevant guidelines can be found below:

The full list of readiness notices is available here.

A simple guide on how businesses can adapt for the end of the transition period is available here.

All information related to the withdrawal of the UK from the EU is available on the Commission’s website.

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