Brexit: What you need to know now

As December 31, 2020 – the date when Great Britain is to officially leave the European Union – looms, Keith Christian, Director of BAGMA, looks at what businesses need to do to prepare

Well, we waited for something more to happen. But, as I was writing this, someone was quietly sneaking over from the EU to have further talks with our government after they had said there would be no more discussions and we were leaving without a deal.

For dealers in particular we have pieced together some useful information and guidance on what you need to do if you are importing or exporting products from or to the EU after we go our separate ways. Dealers also need to pay attention to the rules or guidance concerning the border with Northern Ireland if they are trading in the North in any way.

Will these changes affect your business as a dealer? I think the answer to that is ‘yes’, whether it is directly because you trade with the EU already or indirectly because your suppliers are affected because they trade with the EU or are EU based. I am sure that most suppliers will be on the ball and ready for the changes and hopefully there will be minimum disruption at the dealer end of the distribution channel.

We may see delays at the ports; I heard the Government has spent around £77 million securing ferries in case this happens. Whole goods and parts maybe affected but this should only be in the short-term. Prices may rise because of extra costs in dealing with the extra administration or because the pound has dropped in value against the Euro or even gone up in value. Previously suppliers had generally backed up stocks in the UK to cover the vagaries of BREXIT. However, these have been eroded now due to some of the supply issues created by coronavirus and what is being reported as generally a good year for dealers despite all the woes associated with the global pandemic.

The timing of our withdrawal does mean it will be at the quietest time of the year for most dealers and hopefully by the time the spring arrives all the initial hullabaloo would have been sorted out and it will be business as near normal as possible. Let’s hope so.

Just be aware and read up on what may affect you. Transporting goods to and from the EU will be affected by new rules and checks. Even taking a demonstration unit out of the UK to Europe with the intention of bringing it back will still need the correct paperwork. We used to call them carnet’s but who knows what new name will apply soon. Get your documentation right and you will not have a problem. You can also use a specialist company to deal with your documentation rather than work it out yourselves if you are doing this infrequently.

It may be different and, no doubt, it will be frustrating but if you are prepared it will probably be like going back in time for those of us we can remember how it worked over 47 years ago when there were closed borders and a multitude of different currencies and rules to contend with. We managed then and we will certainly manage next year.

Here we have signposted the main places where you can gain the relevant advice you need ahead of January 1, 2021.

Tool checker and webinars

The Business Secretary Alok Sharma has urged businesses to familiarise themselves with the actions they will need to take, by visiting and using the checker tool.

When the transition period ends on December 31, 2020, there will be a guaranteed set of changes and opportunities for which businesses need to prepare as the UK leaves the customs union and single market, including changes to the way businesses import and export goods, the process for hiring people from the EU, and the way businesses provide services in EU markets.

Most of these actions will need to be completed regardless of the outcome of our negotiations with the EU. These include ensuring staff register for residency rights and preparing for customs procedures when trading with the EU.

To make sure businesses are prepared, the Government has hosted a series of sector-specific webinars to remind them of the changes they will need to make.

The webinars cover general areas that businesses of any shape and size will need to understand and act on, such as visas, work permits, and tariffs – as well as sector specific information. Sectors include retail, automotive, electronics and machinery, and construction.

They are available to watch again at

Keep up to date with all the latest advice by visiting

Other documents you may find useful are available at We recommend you view the following:

  • Border Operating Model for the GB border from January 1, 2021.
  • Decision tree on importing goods from the EU into GB.
  • Decision tree on exporting goods from GB into the EU.
  • Making customs declarations on EU imports.
  • Advice on accounting and paying any cross-border VAT in GB.
  • Policy paper on moving goods between GB and NI.