Customs, Tax & Trade

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has had an impact on customs procedures, tax and trade, both with the EU and non-EU countries. Read the BIA's post-Brexit tax guide, produced jointly with FTI Consulting and the BIA's Finance and Tax Advisory Committee.


During the transition period, the current arrangements and rules on customs, tax and trade will remain in place until 31 December 2020.  HMRC has written a letter to all VAT registered businesses with guidance on what happens from 31 January and how to prepare for the end of the transition period on 31 December.


BEIS is running a webinar targeted at the life sciences industry to help businesses prepare for the end of the transition period. The webinar takes place at 11am on Tuesday 27 October. 


Steve Oldfield, Chief Commercial Officer at DHSC, has written a letter to medicine suppliers on the continuity of the supply of medicines and medical products following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. The letter sets out already established details of contingency planning to mitigate any disruption to medical supplies.


Even if the UK agrees a trade deal with the EU there will still be an impact on customs and trading arrangements from January 2021 because the UK will no longer be part of the EU single market and customs union.


The government has published a statement confirming plans to introduce import controls on EU goods at the border after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. The Government has also published its Reasonable Worse Case Scenario for the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. 

The Government has updated its Border Operating Model. Most changes relate to other sectors, but there are some helpful clarifications on radioisotopes and further information of EORI numbers. The Port Infrastructure Fund has also been launched by Government.


Guidance on importing and exporting

From 1 January 2021 businesses will need to make customs declarations to move goods into and out of the EU

The government has published updated guidance for businesses on importing and exporting, set out in the links below.


Importing goods from the EU

How to get an EORI number which is required for importing from 1 January 2021

How to register on the new UK REACH system if you buy chemicals from the EU

Shipping radioactive sources between the UK and EU from 1 January 2021


How to transport goods out of the UK by road

Taking goods such as samples temporarily out of the UK

How to get an EORI number, which is essential for exporting from 1 January 2021

Moving goods between or through common transit countries including the EU

How you can hire a person or business to deal with customs 


Importing and exporting animals for research

For guidance on the importing and exporting of animals for research, please see our R&D/Funding section



If there is no trade agreement in place with the EU at the end of the transition period, businesses may need to pay different rates of customs duty (tariffs) on imports into the UK from the EU and the rest of the world. The government will introduce a permanent tariff regime following a public consultation.

Government has introduced customs special procedures so that businesses can pay less or no duty on goods stored, processed, repaired or temporarily used.  

Trading with non-EU countries

EU-third country trade agreements that apply to the UK until 31 December 2020

How to trade with other countries if there is no UK trade agreement in place after 31 December 2020