Be Prepared for the UK’s Full Departure from the European Union - 31st December 2020

16th June 2020

Following a meeting with the Withdrawal Joint Committee (WJC), the UK has formally notified the EU that it will neither accept nor seek any extension to the transition period.

Nick Patrick, Head of International Trade at Sheffield International Trade Centre (SITC) discusses how businesses need to prepare for the UK’s full departure from the European Union, confirmed to take place on the 31st December 2020:

Following a meeting with the Withdrawal Joint Committee (WJC), the UK has formally notified the EU that it will neither accept nor seek any extension to the transition period.

Efforts to prepare the UK’s infrastructure and detail how the ‘control’ systems will work is only one aspect of the full equation. My biggest concern is that evidently many businesses do not understand how the end of the transition period on 31st December will affect their business in the UK, and crucially, how it will affect their EU customers/suppliers and their commercial relationships with them.

WJC Meeting Summary

Coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on all aspects of life and because of this border controls will be introduced in stages for EU goods imported into GB, in order to give businesses more time to prepare.

The stages are:

  • From January 2021: Traders importing standard goods, covering everything from clothes to electronics, will need to prepare for basic customs requirements, such as keeping sufficient records of imported goods, and will have up to six months to complete customs declarations. While tariffs will need to be paid on all imports, payments can be deferred until the customs declaration has been made. There will be checks on controlled goods like alcohol and tobacco. Businesses will also need to consider how they account for VAT on imported goods. There will also be physical checks at the point of destination on all high-risk live animals and a proportion of low-risk live animals.
  • From April 2021: All products of animal origin (POAO) – for example meat, pet food, honey, milk or egg products – and all regulated plants and plant products will also require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation.
  • From July 2021: Traders moving all goods will have to make declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant tariffs. Full Safety and Security declarations will be required,

New border facilities in the UK will be for carrying out required checks, such as customs compliance, transit, and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks. Today's announcement is another important step towards getting the country ready for the end of the transition period.

What impact will the end of the transition period mean for individual businesses?

Businesses need to be proactive in ensuring they are setting their company up to change from free trade to full customs procedures, duties and VAT.

The Sheffield International Trade Centre (SITC) is at the forefront of how the end of transition will affect your business from day 1 exiting the EU.

  • We can advise you on the specific areas you need to consider to reduce the effect, both to your business and that of your customers in Europe.
  • We can explain the implications of customs procedures and calculate the cost to your balance sheet on a month by month and annual basis. We will go through the list of actions that can be introduced to mitigate compliance risk and cost.
  • Help you apply for customs systems to ensure you are using the most efficient practises available.
  • Discuss the management of the change, your compliance responsibilities and the consequences of not being ready.

How we can help: Online Brexit compliance audits

During the compliance audit we will get a thorough understanding of your business. We will cover each and every aspect of the business which will be affected by the UK’s full departure from the EU and calculate the costs associated with the introduction of full customs controls including admin costs, duties and VAT.

We will look at customs systems that will mitigate cost, sometimes significantly.

We will consider how the new arrangements will affect your European customers and suppliers and to broach the subject of your changing relationship. Please remember many EU suppliers and customers for UK businesses only trade within the European Union. They may not have any knowledge of customs procedures and unless you can explain their default position may be simply to switch their suppliers to another company within the EU.

We will be looking at compliance; routing of your imports and exports and advising on customs systems that you can apply for so as to limit cost and exposure.

If you feel that an ‘are you prepared’ compliance audit for your business is required, please email me, Nick Patrick at

We are currently offering remote audits through the Zoom platform and will involve at least one director, finance, your export/import admin teams and anyone you feel would be able to contribute or had a vested interest to be involved.

We will get a good insight into the company activities and enables us to:

  • Assess your colleague’s knowledge about what they are doing and why.
  • Identify short falls in your practices which will allow us to plug the gaps from a compliance perspective.
  • Look at how you or your usual logistics service providers will be able to cope with the import and export declarations and ensure you understand how crucial the legally binding INCOTERM will become key to negotiations.
  • Consider how your EU customers and suppliers are going to be affected and if necessary, help them to understand their responsibilities
  • Open up discussions about other customs systems we could implement to your activity type, such as IPR, Customs Warehousing, Trusted trader suitability etc.
  • We will always be considering how the end of Brexit transition will affect your company and offer mitigating systems and the longer term of trusted trader which considers how your business is set up for full global customs digital control and advanced cargo reporting.

We will write and present the reports within a couple of days which will include a compliance risk assessment on your current practices which mirrors the HMRC risk register, a corrective report and gap analysis which will also include suggestion for additional systems to be considered.

Please also consider our online ‘bite sized’ webinars specifically designed to help with the end of transition. They are aimed at a wide audience, from directors, buyers, international sales and administration staff.

These are 90 minute sessions designed and delivered by our professional trainer Becky Stark. Click on the below links for details:

Further details can be found here:

We are limited in the number of delegates we can host online so if you are interested in attending, please register as soon as possible. We will be arranging more dates if they are oversubscribed.

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