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The UK government recently published some guidance for sending goods to and from the EU from January 2021, when the trading rules will change.

Although the UK left the EU at the beginning of 2020, it was agreed that there would be no changes to the terms of trade for a period of a year—but we're now only a few months off the end of this period.

So what's changing?

Essentially, from 2021 you will need to make a customs declaration when exporting goods from the UK to the EU, and vice versa. This is what you currently have to do if shipping to or from any country outside of the EU. Your customs declaration will detail the contents of your shipment, alongside the appropriate tariff codes for identification purposes.

You may need different types of export licenses or certificates depending on the kinds of goods you are sending, though these are mainly for food and agriculture-related products.

Businesses will also need to make sure they register a UK-specific EORI number starting with the letters GB. You will need a separate EU EORI number for any import or export declarations made within EU countries. For the EU number, you can make your application to whichever member state you deal with first.

Taxes and duties

The UK Global Tariff will apply to all imported goods from 1st January 2021, replacing the Common External Tariff of the EU customs union.

You can use the government's look-up tool to compare new and old tariffs for each category of goods.

The standard VAT rate will remain at 20%. However, exporters will be able to “zero rate” most goods—that is, charge your customers 0% VAT—for EU customers as well as for those outside of the EU.

For more information, visit the government website:

Prepare to export goods from Great Britain to the EU from 1 January 2021

Prepare to import goods from the EU to Great Britain from 1 January 2021


Header image: Niklas Weiss

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