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Trading from 2021

Changes to how the UK will trade from January 2021


The UK left the EU, including the single market and customs union, on 31 January 2020, and then entered a ‘stand still’ transition period. During that time, most aspects of the UK’s relationship with the EU, and with other countries which were unaffected by our EU rights and responsibilities, remained the same.

On 24 December 2020, the UK and EU negotiators reached an “agreement in principle” on the text of a new trade and cooperation agreement to govern their relations now that the UK has left the EU. The provisional application of this agreement went live on 1 January 2021 following the ratification of this agreement by both the EU and UK.

At 11pm on 31 December 2020 that formal 11 month ‘transition period’ ended. In many ways, this is the first time that the practical effects of leaving the EU will be felt by businesses and consumers.

All businesses should be thinking very carefully about their own state of readiness, including assessing the stability of supply chain and preparedness of partners. While there are areas where the BCC is calling for more information, there is information available for businesses who need to prepare for changes which will happen at the end of 2020.

The BCC’s End of Transition Checklist sets out many of the areas you should look at and plan for, including links to helpful guidance. The key areas to think about are:

  • Workforce
  • Cross-border trade
  • Supply chain disruption
  • Trade between GB and NI
  • Taxation and insurance
  • Data
  • Currency, intellectual property and contractual issues


Your business is not alone at this time of change. For more than 160 years, the British Chambers of Commerce has supported UK business and remains expert in trade matters.

Find your local Chamber here.

End of the Transition Period

Understanding International Trade