Where Do I Start?

As of 1 January 2021, the UK ceased being  bound by EU Single Market and Customs Union rules which continued to apply  on a transitional basis under the terms of the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement. 

In advance of this, the Government set up  a dedicated UK Transition webpage, covering the main changes applicable to citizens and businesses in all sectors. This is structured around navigating to a personalised list of actions based on answers to specific questions about individual circumstances.

The EU  also issued a series of detailed advice notices on How to get ready for the end of Transition together with a Checklist for Traders aimed at businesses in the EU.

Most of these changes remain unaffected by the conclusion of the new Trade Agreement, which is primarily concerned with preserving tariff and quota free market access.

The bulk of the guidance previously issued by both sides accordingly continues to apply.

The main exceptions to this relate to the phasing-in of new UK import procedures, for which a new timeline was established in a Parliamentary Statement on 11 March.


The UK has also made unilateral changes to some of the provisions relating to trade with Northern Ireland. These are set out in the latest version of the Northern Ireland Trader Showcase. Additional help with exporting to Northern Ireland is available through a new  Trader Support Service.


At a minimum, businesses who wish to trade with the EU need to do the following

  • Make sure you have a valid EORI number which starts with GB
  • Make sure your UK approved food businesses are listed with the EU if you or your suppliers wish to export POAO to the EU or NI
  • Register for EHCs online and register to notify imports through IPAFFS.
  • Understand the many customs procedures. 
  • Follow the procedures that will apply to your trade as outlined in the government’s latest Border Operating Model.
  • Ensure you have a Customs Agent who is contactable in person and located near by the port you will be using. This is especially true of Calais where companies without local agents have reported long delays.  If you decide not to use an intermediary, you will need to make customs declarations yourself.   This also means that the import BCP as well as the export BCPs needs to prenotified.  Some reports have suggested that contacting the appropriate BCP has been helpful with particular issues.  
  • Ensure your Incoterms (International Commercial Terms) outlining delivery and shipping responsibilities are correct and up to date.

All of these issues are dealt with in more depth in the following sections and frequently-asked-questions sections of this website.

IGD have produced a helpful self contained guidance document here .

Seafish have also produced a self contained guidance on trade in fish and fishery products here.

Further guidance from the  Marine Management Organisation for the UK fish catching sector and for exporters is available here.