The UK has left the EU and the end of the Brexit transition period is fast approaching, bringing with it guaranteed changes for businesses. Whether checking duties and customs procedures for importing and exporting goods, or preparing to keep data flowing lawfully from 1 January, there are a number of actions businesses must take now to prepare for new rules and avoid disruption in the new year.

Here we look at changes affecting use of the CE Marking, Customs Declarations, and Import VAT.


Changes regarding use of the CE Marking

New rules following the end of the Brexit transition period include changes affecting use of the CE marking and the introduction of the new UKCA marking. If you plan to place goods on both the UK and EU markets, you should prepare for these changes now. 

The actions you need to take depend on the type of goods you’re placing on the market - for example, different rules apply to sector specific goods such as vehicles, chemicals and medicines, and non-harmonised goods such as furniture. Sector specific guidance can be found here.

This post is focused on ‘New Approach’ goods, which are those harmonised goods which typically bear the CE marking (e.g. machinery, electronics, toys, PPE). 

First, if you have already placed goods on the UK or EU, EEA, or EFTA markets before 1 January 2021, you do not need to take any action and these individual goods can continue to circulate until they reach their end user. 

However, changes will apply from 1 January and businesses should prepare now. 


Placing New Approach goods on the GB market 

Businesses are urged to be ready for full implementation of the new UK regime and the new UKCA marking as soon as possible after 1 January 2021. 

However, to allow businesses time to adjust, most CE marked goods that meet GB and EU requirements can continue to be placed on the GB market until 1 January 2022 where GB and EU requirements remain the same.

The UKCA marking must be used immediately from 1 January 2021 if your certificate of conformity is held by a UK Approved Body and you do not transfer it to an EU Notified Body. 

You must also get ready for new importer labelling responsibilities, which apply immediately from 1 January 2021.


Placing New Approach goods on the EU market

If you are placing manufactured goods on the EU market you must take steps now to ensure compliance with EU requirements by 1 January 2021, such as using the CE marking and identifying changes to the responsibilities of your EU distributors. 


Placing New Approach goods on the NI market

The Northern Ireland Protocol comes into force from 1 January 2021. For as long as it is in force, Northern Ireland will align with relevant EU rules relating to the placing on the market of manufactured goods.

The CE marking will continue to be the relevant marking for most New Approach goods. If you self-declare for CE, you can continue to do this when placing goods on the NI market. 

The CE marking will need to be accompanied by the UKNI marking if you use a UK conformity assessment body to assess against EU rules. 


Customs Declarations

There will be changes to the processes that traders need to make no matter what future trading arrangements with Europe is agreed - so businesses must take action now or risk experiencing delays in January.  

If your business depends on export and/or import, your ability to trade will be compromised unless you take action. Importers of standard goods are encouraged to delay making customs declarations through the staged customs controls arrangements. 

If you do just one thing now, it’s recommended you get a contract in place with a customs intermediary before you start moving goods after 1 January. 

And, if you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sign up for the free Trader Support Service (TSS). 

It’s recommended you don’t try to move goods to the EU until you are sure. Taking a bit of time to get ready is the best thing to do. You won’t be penalised for not having things in place for 1 January, but trying to move goods without being ready may mean costs for your business due to having to cancel goods movements. 


Import VAT

If you import goods from EU countries into Great Britain, you may need to pay Import VAT from 1 January 2021. 

If your business is UK VAT registered, from 1 January 2021 you must use Postponed VAT Accounting to account for Import VAT if you:

  • delay your supplementary declarations
  • import goods that are not controlled from EU countries to Great Britain between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021, use Simplified Customs Declaration Procedures where authorised, and make an Entry in Declarants Records

This means you account for and recover import VAT on the same VAT return, subject to normal rules on input tax deduction.

In other circumstances, from 1 January 2021, UK VAT registered traders will be able (but not compelled) to use Postponed VAT Accounting to account for import VAT on their VAT Return for goods imported from anywhere in the world. Find out more on gov.uk.


Further guidance
  1. Moving qualifying goods from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/moving-qualifying-goods-from-northern-ireland-to-the-rest-of-the-uk
  2. Using the UKCA marking from 1st January 2021: www.gov.uk/guidance/using-the-ukca-mark-from-1-january-2021 
  3. Using the UKNI marking from 1st January 2021: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-the-ukni-marking-from-1-january-2021 
  4. Conformity assessment bodies: status from 1st January 2021: www.gov.uk/guidance/conformity-assessment-bodies-change-of-status-from-1-january-2021  
  5. Applying to be a UK conformity assessment body for product safety and metrology: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-to-be-a-uk-cab-for-product-safety-and-metrology 

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