As of 1 January 2021 the UK has exited the European Union and consequently the single market. Businesses across a wide variety of industries are therefore being urged to swiftly put measures in place to ensure their operations with EU suppliers and customers continue with minimum disruption.

Under new rules effective from the start of 2021, businesses importing goods from Europe, as well as those exporting to those located in EU Member States, will be met with a variety of new rules and regulations and the onus is on companies to understand these new procedures and make the necessary changes to ensure that goods can move in and out of the UK.

There are various aspects in which Brexit may affect your business and its operations, namely;

  • The use of postponed VAT accounting. This came into effect from 1 January 2021 with UK VAT registered businesses both declaring and recovering import VAT to the extent the goods are used to make VATable supplies, on the VAT return covering the month when the goods clear into the UK.
  • Determining when your business is liable to register for VAT in the UK/EU;
  • Potentially incurring irrecoverable costs, specifically in relation to whom will clear and pay import VAT on goods being sold to the EU. Consideration will also need to be given to EU businesses sending goods to the UK, where irrecoverable UK VAT may be incurred;
  • The removal of simplification measures that have eased VAT accounting on certain transactions between UK and EU VAT-registered business whilst the UK has been a member of the EU. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, sales of margin scheme goods, goods sent for processing or disposal in the EU and transactions subject to the rules for Triangulation Simplification;
  • The impact on distance selling regulations and the place of supply rules;
  • The application of incoterms when selling or purchasing from EU businesses which ensure that both sides are clear on who will complete export declarations and customs clearance procedures for goods coming in and out of the UK.

Despite a trade deal having been agreed between the UK and the European Union, there will still be substantial changes to pre-existing rules and regulations relating to trade between the UK and other EU Member States. The responsibility lies with businesses to ensure they are compliant with their new obligations and it is critical this is addressed at the earliest opportunity to enable a smooth transition, minimising any potential disruption to business activities. With regards to the EU/UK Trade deal, despite this being stated as ‘Tariff Free’ this is heavily caveated and both importers and exporters should be aware of the rules around the origin of goods, the extent to which they are ‘processed’ prior to import/export and the implications this has in relation to the application of customs duties. Furthermore, in the event customs duties arise, businesses will need to consider any potential measures they can take to limit the financial impact on the business.

It is crucial that businesses take proactive steps to ensure that their UK and EU VAT obligations are met following the end of the transition period to maintain trade with the EU. Taking urgent action now will avoid encountering problems further down the line as we enter into more uncertain times.

If you would like to discuss our services in more detail please contact our Tax team on 00 44 161 832 4901 (Manchester), 00 44 1254 686 600 (Blackburn), 00 44 203 478 8400 (London) or email

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We are registered to carry on audit work in the UK and regulated for a range of investment activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Charles MacMillan is licensed to act as an Insolvency Practitioner in the UK by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Details about our audit registration can be viewed at for the UK (reference number 5386251). Our statutory audit work is subject to the Audit Regulations and Guidance issued by ICAEW, International Standards on Auditing (UK) and the Auditing Practices Board’s Ethical Standards promulgated by the Financial Reporting Council of Aldwych House, 71-91 Aldwych, London WC2B 4HN.

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