Posted: 08/12/2020

BREXIT: what you need to know


As part of our support for small food & drink businesses, we continue to help you navigate the Brexit maze by picking out salient links and points that you should read and act upon.

It is vital that you keep up to date with any amendments or updates to these schemes and policies. Set up gov.uk alerts to receive emails when changes are made to relevant guidance. For further queries, contact the business support helpline or use the EU Transition Trade and Industry forum to ask questions directly. You can also sign up for a range of government webinars here.

Photo by Rocco Dipoppa on Unsplash

New SME Brexit Support Fund now open for applications to help small businesses with changes to trade rules with the EU. Find out more.

Are you a retailer looking for specific advice on how your business is affected? Read the complete retail checklist here

Need clear guidance on how Brexit impacts food & drink businesses? Follow this link to learn more

Keep your business moving: Register now for instant access to on demand video explainers on doing business with Europe, covering areas including exports, imports, tariffs, data and hiring.

Do you import Products of Animal Origin from the EU into Great Britain? Defra are running a series of webinars throughout February and March that you should sign up to attend. Register for the next webinar here.

A new timetable for introducing import border control processes in stages from 1 October has been set out by the government. The aim is to enable UK businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic. Read more on this here.


Trading with Northern Ireland

  • There is specific legislation for those who trade in Northern Ireland, which this government page helps to explain.
  • You should register with the Trader Support Scheme here.
  • Organics: negotiations are still happening on labelling and recognition of organic standards. More information on this to follow.
  • Pallets: you must understand and comply with the heat treatment requirements.
  • Read the Command Paper on the Northern Ireland Protocol, which provides further information on movement of goods into, out of and through Northern Ireland, following the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster’s Withdrawal Agreement update.
  • Prohibitions & Restrictions (P&R) are new trade requirements that will apply to certain goods from 1 January 2021. Only authorised traders on Defra’s list will be eligible to move P&R goods to NI. For further guidance on authorised trader status, compliance declarations and certificates, visit the GB-NI Showcase page.
  • The latest guidance on the documentation required to accompany P&R goods from GB to NI can be found here.
  • If you move SPS goods from GB to NI you need to ensure both you and the receiver of goods complete all required documentation, or your goods may be delayed or even refused entry. Read this detailed guidance on Pre-notification of arrival using TRACES-NT.
  • Where products of animal origin (POAO), originating in NI are intended for further export from GB to the EU, or movement back to NI, they may require a veterinary Support Health Attestation. These can only be issued via the DAERA online application process.
  • Groupage Guidance for traders and hauliers moving agrifood products from GB to NI explains how to move ‘groupage’ exports (i.e. groups of products transported in a single sealed trailer or container) via three different models – the linear model, the consolidation hub model or the hybrid model.


Food labelling

  • There is a period of adjustment until 30 September 2022 to give you time to make the required changes. Follow this link for guidance and more information.
  • Ensure you understand what origin indicators you must have on your food & drink.
  • Your Food Business Operator (FBO) address must be a UK address, or have the address of the UK importer if food & drink is imported.  PO Boxes or virtual addresses are not permitted.
  • The Food Standards Agency (FSA) guidance on health & ID marks can be found here.
  • You will be permitted to over sticker existing labelling.

Read more on marking, labelling and marketing standards from 1 January 2021 >>


Food & farming

Small food and drink producers and rural retailers are, by their nature, very close to the agriculture sector.  Many farmers have diversified and now add value to a primary product.  With our exit from the EU, it is clear that farming will change from the 1st January. For those who farm and for those with a vested interest in understanding the future of farming, the following links may be a useful read.  Note: the documents set out DEFRA‚Äôs plans for England (the devolved governments will have their own strategy).


DEFRA digital food & drink guide

  • DEFRA has launched a new digital guide covering the key actions food and drink businesses may need to take after the end of the transition period (from 1 January 2021).
  • The information covered is already available in the public domain, but has been accumulated to provide a single reference point. 
  • It is important to note that the guide will be regularly updated as further information is confirmed, but the most up to date version is available to download alongside a range of other digital assets by following the link below.
  • The Guild would like your feedback on the guide, so please email john.farrand@gff.co.uk if you have any comments.

Download DEFRA guide >>


Government recommended customs agents

It can be complicated and time consuming to submit import and export customs declarations, so you may want to use a company which specialises in this area. If you’re looking for guidance on submitting customs declarations, this list of agents and fast parcel operators published on the government website may be able to help.

These include:

  • Customs agents and brokers
  • Freight forwarders
  • Shipping companies
  • Fast parcel operators (for example, couriers or next-day parcels services)
  • Agents who specialise in a certain industry, for example fresh foods

Find out more about the guidance available >>
Download the customs agents guide >>

Information on changes to VAT treatment of overseas goods sold to customers from 1 January 2021 >>


Resources for traders on border readiness

Watch this webinar to find out how to use IPAFFS to pre-notify about imports of live animals, POAO and HRFNAO into Great Britain.

Defra have put together a guide to Border Control Posts and what you need to know when exporting to the EU. This includes frequently asked questions.


Employers who currently employ EU citizens

HR4UK have provided the following advice and guidance on immigration and EU settlement for businesses employing EU citizens. HR4UK work with the Guild to provide our members with free HR advice and business support resources 365 days a year. If you’re a member and you want to know how to use this resource, or you’d like to find out more about becoming a Guild member, visit the Join Us page on our website.


Immigration and sponsorship licence

  • Employers recruiting non-UK citizens will need to apply to become a licensed sponsor and pay the applicable fee. Other additional charges will include an Immigration Skills Charge for each worker and visa charges (which could extend to dependants of the skilled migrant).
  • From 1 January 2021, the UK’s new points-based immigration system will commence, marking the end of the free movement between the EEAU and UK.
  • Employers who do not hold a valid sponsorship licence will be unable to hire migrant workers coming to the UK after 1 January 2021, or extend visas for current sponsored employees.


EU settlement scheme

  • Employees who are EU citizens are responsible for making an application to the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021, in order to be able to continue to live and work in the UK.
  • If an EU national fails to make an application, they will be left “undocumented”. This means that they will lose their rights to healthcare, employment, rental property, and state benefits. There are no exceptions to this application requirement and it will not matter how long an EU national has already lived in the UK.
  • Provided an employer has conducted a right to work compliancy check for an EU national who was in their employment before 1 January 2021, you do not need to repeat the process again. These rules also apply to EEA and Swiss citizens.
  • The application for the EU Settlement Scheme is free and immediately available to apply online.


EU transition government forum

An online forum has been created on the gov.uk website, specifically designed to help businesses and traders find answers to questions regarding the transition period. Any producer or retailer can post on this platform and get a direct response to any worries or concerns they face with regards to BREXIT.

Ask a question on the forum >>

A message from the Guild:

We will continue to update our Brexit support for independent food and drink businesses as new information is available. If you have any specific questions or concerns, please email john.farrand@gff.co.uk and we will try to address them for you – either by trying to help you find the answer or raising them in some of the forums we have available to us.

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