How to Prepare for Brexit: 6 Areas for Businesses to Consider
As you’ve probably heard, Government officials will be giving 1-to-1 Brexit readiness briefings on our stand at the Advanced Engineering Show on 30 and 31 October.
Based on conversations with ALFED members, the wider business community and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the main issues of Brexit confusion for companies are around:
- Importing and exporting
- Employment and travel
- Regulation and compliance
- Personal data use
- Intellectual property
- Access to funding
Here’s some preliminary guidance to help direct your Brexit preparation to-do list and shape the agenda for your 1-to-1 briefing. (You can also use the Government’s Brexit preparation checker tool, which helps identify factors to consider.)
Importing and exporting
To trade with the EU after Brexit, you’ll need a 12-digit EORI number starting with GB. HMRC sent one to all VAT-registered businesses, but it’s worth checking to ensure it’s been received and noted by the right people in your company.
You must also have the right licences and certificates (essential if you import certain classes of goods). Decide whether you will use a customs agent to manage declarations, and plan for transport, VAT and duties.
We recommend watching this HMRC webinar, which covers key import and export topics.
Employment and travel
With freedom of movement ending, you should check staff have the right to work in the UK and travel in the EU countries you do business with. This means reminding employees who are EU nationals to look into the EU Settlement Scheme. And it means checking immigration controls in countries people travel to.
Recognition of professional qualifications will also change after Brexit, so look into the rules for the relevant role and country.
Regulation and compliance
You should consider Brexit implications if you rely on approvals, conformity assessments and quality markings, among other areas.
For example, check your product approvals will still be valid in the EU (the UK will recognise EU ones, but it won’t be mutual). For most products, CE marking will be valid in the UK for a limited time. However, you may need to comply with the new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking straightaway.
If you deal in construction products, it’s essential you ensure the EU will recognise your third-party conformity assessments. If they’re not held by an EU-recognised body, you won’t be able to sell in member states. Tests held in the UK may not be valid, so prepare now for a new form of marking.
The same goes for UK companies using chemicals, with regards to REACH registration. You may need to open an account on the new UK REACH IT system and register with the HSE to use products from the EU and EEA.
Personal data use
Now that we’ve all recovered from GDPR preparation last year, it’s time to look at personal data again. After Brexit, some companies may not have the right contractual cover to receive personal data from EEA countries.
If you sell someone else’s intellectual property in the EEA, you may require permission to continue after Brexit. (An example would be selling goods with someone else’s trade mark.)
You should also consider your short- and medium-term plans for getting unregistered protection. Before Brexit, you get protection in both the UK and EU when you disclose; after Brexit, you’ll only have protection where it’s first shown.
This video from the UK IPO summarises the situation with unregistered designs. (View videos on how Brexit affects other forms of protection here.)
Access to funding
The Government has guaranteed many different sources of EU funding in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The guarantee covers the project’s lifetime if you’ve successfully bid into EU-funded programmes before the end of 2020. However, it doesn’t automatically cover awards where you’ve bid directly to the European Commission, so check your specific programme.
If you’re a Horizon 2020 grant holder, make sure you register with UK Research & Innovate, which will manage delivery of the Government’s funding guarantee.
Get Brexit planning advice specific to your company
Have a free 1-to-1 Brexit Readiness Briefing with Government officials at the Advanced Engineering Show – and get your questions answered: