In just a matter of weeks the transition period for the UK's exit from the European Union will come to an end, with a host of new rules coming into force from January 2021. Is your small business ready?
It would be fair to assume in a year that has seen the rise of a global pandemic, many small businesses have been focusing more on keeping their day to day operations on track rather than looking too far into the future.
However, with changes as a result of Brexit looming, now is the time to ensure your business is ready for what will be yet another new normal.
How can I find out what I need to do?
The first, easiest step is to take part in a quick survey on the Government’s website. You will be asked a series of tick box questions such as whether you travel to the EU for business or if you employ anyone from another European country, and at the end you will be given a personalised action plan to get you started.
What are the main areas of change for small businesses?
Requirements will be different for each individual and business but the key areas of change for most small businesses will centre around:
A recent article from Enterprise Nation explains: “Negotiations on the final deal between the UK and the EU are still taking place, but because the UK is leaving the single market and customs union, most of the actions businesses are being asked to carry out need to be completed regardless of the outcome of negotiations.”
At the centre of any discussion about data protection is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - the tough privacy and security law which came into effect in 2018 and imposes obligations on organisations that target or collect data relating to people in the EU.
The government plans to incorporate the GDPR into UK law at the end of the transition period, but the UK will have the independence to keep the framework under review.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has put together detailed guidance on what you need to do whether or not you have contacts or customers in the EU to make sure you comply with data protection requirements.
To access the guidance head over to the ICO site or the GDPR site.
From 1 January 2021 the process for exporting goods to the EU will change. Guidance around the actions businesses in Great Britain need to take to be able to continue exporting to EU countries is available on the Government site.
It includes information on finding out how to declare goods, what licenses you need, guidance on labelling requirements and advice on how to apply for an EORI number which starts with GB to move goods between the UK and non-EU countries.
Guidance on moving goods into, out of and through Northern Ireland will be added to GOV.UK in the coming weeks.
As with exporting, the process for importing goods from the EU will also change from January.
The Government’s website offers guidance on how you will be able to check the rate of tax and duty you will need to pay post January plus other areas where changes are being made such as the need for an EORI number which starts with GB when importing goods.
The site also offers information about making the importing process quicker. The website explains: “From 1 January 2021, you'll need to make customs declarations when you import goods from the EU. In some situations, you can delay making a declaration for up to 6 months after you imported the goods.”
To find out more about this and other changes relating to importing good from the EU from January 2021 take a look at this dedicated webpage.
Business travel to the EU
As well as the actions all travellers will need to take - such as checking your passport, travel insurance and driving documents - there will be extra requirements if you’re travelling to the EU for business.
Business travel is classed as activities such as travelling for meetings and conferences, and providing services.
The country you’re travelling to may have its own entry requirements, and if you are taking goods into the EU you will need to check you have the right documentation.
In certain sectors, you will need to confirm that your professional qualifications will be recognised in the EU and you will also need to check if you need indemnity insurance for you or your employees. You might also need to tell HMRC you’ll be working in the EU.
For more information about all of these requirements visit this dedicated page.
It’s good to talk
Want to find out how other small businesses are preparing for post Brexit changes? Join Small Business Geek for our free monthly online networking session to promote your business and chat to other business owners.