The UK has left the EU.

The new UK–EU Trade Co-operation Agreement

The transition period has now ended, with the conclusion of the new UK-EU Trade Co-operation Agreement.

Businesses should note the changes to trading arrangements, including:

  • Changes to UK-EU trade at the UK border including on customs, tariffs and VAT.
  • Companies will need a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number to continue to trade with the EU.
  • Companies selling manufactured goods will need to check regulatory requirements and comply with new rules on labelling, approvals and testing.
  • New rules including visa regulations if providing services or operating in the EU around branches/subsidiaries, planning a merger with an EU company, have employees who travel to EU/EEA countries or Switzerland for business or providing services in a regulated profession. 
  • The changes on how to send and receive personal data from international partners, including in the EEA.
  • Bedford Borough companies will still be able to employ EU citizens as they currently do and are required to conduct the same right to work, checks.
  • EU, EEA and Swiss citizens should apply to continue to work in the UK under the EU settlement scheme.
  • The regulations regarding intellectual property, affecting copyright, patents, designs and trademarks. 

Companies are advised to consult the UK EU New rules page. It provides the links to guidance for these and other issues and topics of importance to best to prepare, be informed and receive updates regarding the new regulations.

SEMLEP’s Growth Hub also provides resources to help local business prepare for EU exit. It is hosting a series of webinars over the next few months to help businesses through the early days of the new system.

Please check the schedule to see what is available.

Advice and support from Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

In addition to providing comprehensive information and guidance on the GOV.UK transition webpages, the Government has launched a number of tools to help businesses understand what is required of them following our exit from Europe:


  • You must declare any goods you send to the EU, providing details about what you are sending and what it's worth using a customs declaration form. You can get a customs intermediary to help you do this. Please see the 'Get someone to deal with customs for you' guidance on GOV.UK.
  • If you are sending goods using a fast parcel operator or express courier, they will declare the goods for you using the information you provide. Small businesses who aren't looking to get a contract with a customs agent may find this option beneficial.
  • If you are sending goods by post valued at £900 or less, Royal Mail will give you a customs declaration sticker to fill in and attach to the parcel. For goods worth more than £900, Royal Mail will submit the customs declaration for you, using the information you provide.
  • You will need an Export Health Certificate (EHC) to export food or drink that contains products of animal origin such as meat, dairy or eggs. Please see the 'Export or move food, drink and agricultural products' guidance on GOV.UK.
  • The Department for International Trade's Check How to Export Goods online tool on GOV.UK has information on the UK border and duties and customs procedures for over 160 markets around the world.
  • There is VAT guidance on the GOV.UK website about the conditions for zero rating VAT on the goods you export, and what you should do when you export goods in specific circumstances.
  • An online guidance package developed by DEFRA with HMRC to guide fish exporters through each step of the export journey. There's a range of information and support available to help you make sure you are following the new rules including the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) One Stop Shop (opens PDF).
  • You can call HMRC's Customs and International Trade Helpline and speak to an advisor on 0300 322 9434. The helpline is open from 8am to 10pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 4pm at weekends. You can also send questions via the HMRC imports and exports webchat service.
  • View the new on demand videos on the Workcast website which focus on priority topics for businesses, such as exporting.

Northern Ireland

  1. Northern Ireland Protocol guidance - you should refer to this if you move goods into, out of or through Northern Ireland. View the Northern Ireland Protocol guidance on GOV.UK.
  2. Trader Support Service (TSS) on GOV.UK - this free UK Government-backed service guides you through any changes you need to make and can complete customs declarations on your behalf. The TSS also offers a comprehensive range of education materials including online training, webinars and 'how to' guides.
  3. Movement Assistance Scheme (MAS) on GOV.UK - free support, including a dedicated helpline, is available for traders and businesses moving animals, plants and associated products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. MAS also means that traders will not need to pay health certification costs, which will be met by the UK Government.

Funding to assist with the cost of EU exit advice

The Government has announced a £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund. This fund offers support to help small businesses adjust to new customs procedures, rules of origin and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

The SME Brexit Support Fund could give you up to £2,000 if your business has up to 500 employees, and no more than £100 million annual turnover.

SMEs who trade only with the EU, and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes, can apply for grants of up to £2,000 to pay for practical support including training and professional advice to ensure they can continue to trading effectively with the EU.

You can find more information on the SME Brexit Support Fund on GOV.UK. Full guidance on how you can use the grant is on GOV.UK, as well as who can apply and how to apply.