Trade Hub

Trade Hub

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Trade Hub

On 24 December 2020, the UK and EU negotiators reached an “agreement in principle” on the text of a new trade and cooperation agreement to govern their relations now that the UK has left the EU. The provisional application of this agreement went live on 1 January 2021 following the ratification of this agreement by both the EU and UK.

On the 31st December 2020, the ‘transition period’ ended and for some businesses, this is the first time that the practical effects of leaving the EU were experienced.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce is here to help businesses to understand and navigate the changes, to campaign for further clarity and guidance on the rules around our trading relationship with the EU, and to make sure that Edinburgh thrives outside of the EU. Please see below some links to useful guides to help your business continue to trade successfully with Europe:

The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce has created a new Customs Declaration Service

ChamberCustoms is our new customs brokerage service.  (Please note our service does not include warehousing or logistics.)  Uniquely, it has been created to clear goods for import and export at every port in the UK.

Please visit our page Customs Declaration Service

Make sure your team is equipped for changes from 1st January by attending the Chamber’s range of international training courses. Visit our calendar here.

Trade Hub FAQ

The rules for importing and exporting to the EU have changed. The Government have put together a series of guides to importing and exporting, which you can find here. The step-by-step guide to importing goods includes information around customs declarations, including whether you can delay your declarations, as well as guidance around licences and certificates. There is a similar guide to take you through the process of exporting goods.   To move goods between the EU and UK, you will need an EORI number that starts with GB. If you do not have one, you may have increased costs and delays. The British Chambers of Commerce successfully campaigned for the government to automatically issue VAT registered businesses that currently trade with the EU with an EORI number rather than making businesses apply. However, businesses that are not VAT registered and trade with the EU will still need to register for an EORI number, and some businesses are currently experiencing delays in getting one. It only takes 5-10 minutes to apply and you can do so here.   There are also new rules covering VAT, customs and excise duty for goods from overseas sold directly to customers in the UK, and you will need to pay excise duties if you’re importing alcohol, tobacco or biofuels.   There are particular rules for trading with Northern Ireland
If you’re a UK business or professional providing services or investing in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, you’ll need to check the national regulations of the country you’re doing business in to understand how best to operate. The UK Government have put together a series of country-specific guides to help you understand what rules apply to your business. There may be changes to the rules around VAT, restrictions around your ability to own, manage or direct a company registered in these countries, and new rules around business travel You can find out more here. For online cross-border trade in services between the UK and other European Economic Area (EEA) countries, the eCommerce Directive had provided the legal framework and reduced obstacles to trade. Now that we have left the EEA, this Directive no longer applies. Now, you need to be compliant with the relevant requirements of each EEA country that you operate in. These requirements cover things like online advertising or online contracting, and you can find out more about this issue here. The TCA also includes provisions to allow the continued free flow of personal data from the EU, EEA and EFTA States to the UK, and at the end of June the EU Commission formally ruled that this can continue. This means that UK-based businesses and organisations can continue to transfer data to and from Europe freely, without having to put in place any alternative safeguarding mechanisms.
Whilst the TCA has meant we avoided the major disruption of a no-deal Brexit, it is likely that there will still be some disruption and delays to cross-border shipping, due additional paperwork and declarations when moving goods across the EU/UK border. This is particularly important for manufacturers that rely on ‘just in time’ delivery of components from the EU, and those trading goods with a short shelf-life, due to the increased risk of delays. Rules of Origin also mean that a certain percentage of the materials in your product must originate in the EU or UK, or the processing/manufacturing done in the UK must go be sufficient for the goods to attain originating status. This means that companies need to carefully assess their supply chains to understand the origin of all the parts of their goods. For manufacturers with long supply chains this will be especially critical, and supply chain transparency more important than ever. The Scottish Government have put together a guide on mapping your supply chain to find out what level of risk you face, as well as advice on finding alternative suppliers if need be.
If you or your employees are EU nationals who started living in the UK before 1st January 2021, you should make sure that you have applied for the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline for this has passed, but you can still apply if you had reasonable grounds for not applying by the deadline, or meet other specific criteria (e.g. joining a family member in the UK). You can find advice on this at Citizens Advice Scotland. The Scottish Government have also put together a series of guides for EU citizens living in Scotland. Brexit has brought to an end to the free movement of people between the UK and EU, and a new immigration system has been introduced. Employers now need to have a sponsor licence to hire most workers from outside the UK, excluding Irish citizens.  Individual applicants to the UK immigration scheme must meet certain requirements and apply for permission first.  The requirements are different for each different type of visa, and you can find out more here. There have also been changes around the recognition of qualifications, both for UK professionals operating in the EU, and for EU professionals in the UK
Rules of Origin are part of nearly all trade agreements, and ensure that the zero tariffs and other elements of the trade agreement are only available on goods originating in the countries that have signed the agreement. The new TCA for example only allow goods of UK or EU origin to move tariff and quota free. To count towards meeting Rules of Origin, materials must originate in the EU or UK, or the processing/manufacturing done in the UK must go be sufficient for the goods to attain originating status. Different goods have different rules of origin. This is proven either by a statement on origin that the product is originating made out by the exporter or the importer’s knowledge.  Accredited Chambers of Commerce can also provide ‘certificates of origin’. However, many businesses are finding that these rules can be complicated, and origin hard to prove, or that the goods they thought they could export tariff- and quota-free don’t actually meet the new origin rules, which puts their goods at a disadvantage compared to their EU competitors. For a step-by-step tool to help you understand Rules of Origin, and what they mean for your business as well as Rules of Origin FAQs.
Full border checks on EU imports to the UK were originally set to be introduced in stages from 1st April and 1st July 2021, but have been pushed back to 1st October 2021 and 1st January 2022 respectively, due to concerns raised by businesses and ports about the need for more time to allow traders to adjust. The new timetable for the introduction of controls is as follows:
  • Pre-notification requirements for Products of Animal Origin (POAO), certain animal by-products (ABP), and High-Risk Food Not Of Animal Origin (HRFNAO) will not be required until 1st October 2021. Export Health Certificate requirements for POAO and certain ABP will come into force on the same date
  • Customs import declarations will still be required, but the option to use the deferred declaration scheme, including submitting supplementary declarations up to six months after the goods have been imported, has been extended to 1st January 2022
  • Safety and Security Declarations for imports will not be required until 1st January 2022
  • Physical sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks for POAO, certain ABP, and HRFNAO will not be required until 1st January 2022. At that point, they will take place at Border Control Posts
  • Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks, including phytosanitary certificates, will be required for low-risk plants and plant products and will be introduced from 1st January 2022
  • From March 2022, checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low-risk plants and plant products