UK post-Brexit trading rules with the EU are complicated, so get advice now, firms are urged

January 19, 2021

Swindon firms struggling with post-Brexit trade complications are being urged to get expert advice and support by Business West, the region’s largest business organisation.

With the UK now outside of the European Union as of December 31, businesses must adhere to new rules and regulations when trading with the EU. 

As reports emerge of how these new requirements are causing confusion for firms as well as disrupting supply chains, Business West – which runs the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative – is outlining the changes companies face and how they can adapt.

Business West head of international trade services Catherine Stephens said: “Businesses are facing a multitude of post-Brexit changes currently and with the coronavirus pandemic already disrupting supply chains, this is causing understandable confusion and frustration for firms.

“There are, however, ways companies can get prepared for trading with the EU and we want to assure businesses of the support available.”

One of the biggest changes is the need for businesses to complete customs declarations when exporting or importing goods to or from the EU.

These businesses can register their interest in ChamberCustoms, a service run by Business West which takes care of customs declarations for companies, removing the hassle and ensuring customs clearance is accurate and timely to avoid delays and extra costs at the border.

Businesses are also now required to show where their goods were made and where the parts making up these products have come from to determine whether tariffs are levied when entering the EU. 

The European Community (EC) Certificate of Origin has been replaced by a United Kingdom Certificate of Origin. This form shows the origin of goods, what the goods are, their weight and country of destination.

Certificates of Origin are not part of the EU-UK trade agreement, so there are no rules that state they are required when trading with the EU.

However, if an EU importer requests a Certificate of Origin, one can be issued. If an EU country specifically requests a Certificate of Origin, the non-preferential rule is followed – this states that the goods originated where the last substantial economically justified process took place.

Certificates of Origin require certification from an accredited chamber of commerce to be valid. Business West’s export documentation team is fully authorised to certify all documents needed to export to the EU.

For Preferential Origin, exporters will have to follow rules set out in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and the EU.

This requires that a minimum percentage of the product must be proven to have originated in the UK or EU to avoid tariffs when being exported to or imported from the EU.

The percentage of non-UK products permitted varies across items. For example, on dairy goods 20% is allowed.

Confusion in this area has arisen as, under the new TCA, some exporters/importers thought they could import EU-preferential origin goods into the UK then re-package them and sell them back to the EU as preferential origin goods. This would have meant that their EU customers would not have been charged import duty. However, this is not the case. 

If EU-preferential origin goods are imported into the UK, to enable them to be classed as preferential origin goods when being re-exported to the EU, the goods must be processed in the UK to enable them to be classed as UK-preferential origin goods.

For help with Rules of Origin, contact 01275 774 958. A member of the team will be able to answer any questions and get firms ready for trading.

ATA Carnets were not previously required when trading with the EU. However, firms transporting goods temporarily into EU countries or transferring them through the EU to non-EU or third countries, can now produce an ATA Carnet in order for goods to move duty-free. To check which countries accept ATA Carnets, click here.

Business West’s international trade team provides a bespoke service, including simplification of customs procedures and completion of all Carnet vouchers. Find out more here.

Certificates and special licenses are needed for businesses exporting specific products. For example, those exporting live animals need an export health certificate, while those exporting controlled drugs, need a Home Office controlled drug license.

For more information about the different licenses and certificates, visit

Firms can also visit Business West’s award-winning web-advice platform Trading through Brexit to get up-to-date information on post-Brexit changes to international trade.


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