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What the Brexit deal means for small businesses

It’s been a long and winding road but the UK has now left the EU and the details of the Brexit deal have been agreed. As a result, a set of new rules on doing business with countries in the EU has come into effect. Here’s how the new rules might affect your business and where you can find additional information and support to help you adapt to the changes.

Importing and exporting goods between the UK and the EU

Moving goods between Great Britain and the EU

The Brexit deal sets out a number of changes to the rules on importing and exporting goods between Great Britain (i.e. England, Scotland or Wales) and the EU:

Moving goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain or the EU

The Northern Ireland Protocol sets out guidance for importing goods to, exporting goods from and moving goods through Northern Ireland from 1st January 2021 onwards.

If your business moves goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the government’s free Trader Support Service can guide you through these changes.

Providing professional services to the EU

If your business provides professional services to countries within the EU or EFTA (European Free Trade Association), you should check the guidance for each country you supply services to in order to assess:

Employing EU citizens

If your business already employs EU citizens who live in the UK, they may need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in order to continue living and working in the UK.

If you wish to employ an EU citizen who is not currently based in the UK, you will need to apply for a sponsor licence. Guidance is available on the government’s website.

Irish citizens continue to be able to work in the UK under Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangements.

Transferring personal data between the UK and the EU

Following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December 2020, the free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK will continue for at least four months. This period may be extended to a total of six months. For the latest updates, keep an eye on the government's website. The rules on sending personal data to the EU/EEA from the UK have not been affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

For more information on transferring personal data between the UK and the EU, take a look at the ICO's (Information Commissioner’s Office) recent webinar.

If your business needs to make changes as a result of these new rules, there are many government resources available to support you. The ‘Brexit checker’ tool is designed to create a personalised list of actions to help you comply with the new rules. The UK government has also created this collection of helpful videos, which you can register to view free of charge.

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