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:

  • Find Sector-specific guidance here.
  • Read the 10-point Brexit Checklist to help your business adjust to the changes
  • A useful Brexit A – Z to help you understand some of the Brexit jargon.
  • Read the Brexit FAQ’s which cover a range of topics, from documentation, to exporting of services, to VAT, tariffs and tax.
  • British Chambers of Commerce have created three e-guides on Customs Declarations, Rules of Origin, and Tariffs.
  • The UK Government have also created an online tool to help you find out what the new rules mean for your business and create a personalised list of actions.
  • Funding is available through the SME Brexit Support Fund to help pay for training or professional advice,
  • Use the Brexit Helpline for any queries from import and export documentation, tariffs, VAT to logistics – 0300 303 0661

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. Whilst the TCA does include provisions allowing the continued free flow of personal data from the EU, EEA and EFTA States to the UK for up to six months, after this point, adequacy decisions will come into effect. A draft decision on data adequacy was agreed in February 2021 and a final decision is expected by 30th June 2021. If adopted, this will allow the free flow of personal data from the EU, EEA and EFTA countries to continue uninterrupted. However, if this agreement is not adopted, there are contingency measures your business can put in place.
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 have employees who are EU nationals who started living in the UK before 1st January 2021, you should make sure that they have applied for for the EU Settlement Scheme, and support them to do so if they have not already. The UK Government has created an employer toolkit to help you with this. 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.