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Trading in the Future

Changes to how the UK will trade with the EU and globally 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 31 December 2020 that formal 11 month ‘transition period’ will end. 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, a great deal can be achieved now to prepare for changes which will happen at the end of 2020.

The BCC’s Business Preparedness 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:

  • Workforce: there is likely to be new immigration requirements for staff (add links)
  • Cross-border trade: new requirements for certifying goods as safe, labelling foodstuffs (expand and add links)
  • Supply chain disruption: The Government’s own reasonable worst-case scenario, published on 23 September, suggests that between 30 and 60% of new HGVs would arrive at the border able to travel, potentially leading to queues of up to 7,000 lorries in Kent (review/expand and suggest links)
  • Trade between GB and NI (please expand and suggest links)
  • Taxation and insurance (please expand and suggest links)
  • Data: the transfer of data across borders (please expand and suggest links)
  • Currency, intellectual property and contractual issues (please expand and suggest links)


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

Free Trade Agreements