From 1 February 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) will no longer be a member of the European Union (EU). There will be a transitional period from 1 February to 31 December 2020 during which the EU law will continue to apply in the UK and in the UK. Thus, nothing will change for citizens and businesses until the end of the year.
On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom submitted the notification of its intention to withdraw from the European Union (EU). On 29 October 2019, the EU Member States approved the extension of the UK's withdrawal from the EU for up to three months until 31 January 2020. During the transition period (from 1 February until 31 December 2020) free movement of goods will take place in trade between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
- European Council press release "Brexit: European Council adopts decision to extend the period under Article 50"
Brexit and its effects on customs clearance
An agreement will be reached and a transition period will be applied
The Withdrawal Agreement will be accepted, the UK will withdraw from the EU, and the transition period will run until 31 December 2020.
During the transition period, the UK will be considered an EU country for the purposes of customs clearance, and the free movement of goods between the EU and the UK will continue until the end of the transition period.
- The UK will become a non-EU country (a third country), but the free movement of goods between the UK and the EU will continue during the transition period until 31 December 2020. The rules, restrictions and other formalities applied to the trade between the EU and third countries will not be applied during the transitional period.
- The obligation for customs clearance of goods moving between the UK and the EU will begin when the transition period is over.
The effects of Brexit on the trade with the UK – who should be prepared?
If no withdrawal agreement is reached, then:
- all businesses, including small and medium-sized businesses, need to be prepared for Brexit. Businesses should, without delay, assess the consequences of Brexit for their operations.
- the customs authorities of the EU Member States have to apply all rules and formalities concerning the trade between the EU and third countries on goods imported from the UK or exported to the UK.
Brexit is a particularly high challenge for businesses that only trade within the Single Market without borders. Businesses that are going to do business with the UK in the future will need to engage in procedures which are mandatory for trade with third countries. The businesses have to inform themselves on these matters and obtain information on what trade with non-EU countries means and on the necessary requirements for bringing products from third countries into the Union Single Market.
In the following, we will draw attention to some of the most important aspects of trade with third countries:
- customs declarations and related authorizations granted by customs authorities
- customs value, commodity codes and potential customs duties
- import and export bans as well as restrictions
- sanitary and phytosanitary controls (more information on the web page "Trade, import and export" of the Estonian Veterinary and Food Board, and on the web page "Phytosanitary control" of the Estonian Agricultural Board)
When planning the export of plants and plant products, it should first be checked whether these are subject to plant health control in the country of destination and therefore require a phytosanitary certificate.
- controls to ensure compliance with legislation
- preferential treatment (how to apply the rules of origin when EU products containing goods of UK origin are taken out of the EU)
- the scheme of tariffs
- the Market Access Database (MADB) managed by the European Commission for companies exporting from the EU about import conditions in third country markets
The number of customs formalities increases, which means that businesses must present more documents and submit more information to customs authorities.
The United Kingdom (UK, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is, for the time being, one of the Member States of the European Union (EU). ‘UK’ is not an official country code for customs declarations.
England, Scotland and Wales constitute Great Britain (GB). GB is part of the UK. ‘GB’ is the official country code for customs declarations.
Northern Ireland is part of the UK but not of Great Britain. Northern Ireland does not have a separate country code, so ‘GB’ is the official country code for customs declaration.
Travellers should be prepared that when travelling to the UK, the same restrictions, provisions and value limits on duty free imports will apply as when arriving from a non-EU country. Read more in our instructions for travellers: "Travelling from non-EU countries".
The negotiations between the EU and the UK of the Withdrawal Agreement are ongoing. When ordering goods online, one should be prepared that orders made from the UK will be cleared through customs and taxed, like online purchases from non-EU countries, such as China or the USA. More detailed information can be found from instructions for declaring goods purchased online: "Consignments from outside the European Union".
- Web page "Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU" of the European Commission
- NEW! Guidance note by the European Commission "Withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules in the field of customs, including preferential origin" (PDF)
- Brexit preparedness notices on the website of the European Commission
- About importing and exporting on the website of the Government of the UK
- Brexit: in 2020, during the transition period, taxation will not change »
- Brexit transit business scenarios (PDF)
- Brexit export business scenarios (PDF)
- Guidance note on Excise for ongoing movements of goods
- Website „Get ready for Brexit" on transporting cargo via the Dutch ports