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The UK is leaving the EU on 31 January 2020: what it means for your business

What will happen after 31 January 2020?

From 1 February the UK will no longer be a member of the EU, and we’ll enter an implementation period that lasts until 31 December 2020. During this time there will be no changes to the terms for trading with the EU or the rest of the world, unless the rules change for the whole of the EU. This means EU rules for customs, VAT and excise will continue to apply to the movement of goods and trade for this limited time. There will be no new customs procedures at present.

What will happen after 31 December 2020?

From 1 January 2021, the way you trade with the EU will change, and you’ll need to prepare for life outside the EU, including new customs arrangements. For example, for trade between Great Britain (GB) and the EU, you will need to make customs declarations to import and export goods once the UK is outside of the EU’s customs territory.

What you need to do now

  • Keep up to date

Go to and select ‘Sign up to help and support emails from HMRC’.

  • Make sure you have your Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number

You’ll need a UK EORI number that starts with the letters ‘GB’ to be able to submit customs declarations to move goods between GB and the EU after the implementation period ends.

If you already have a UK EORI number starting with ‘GB’, keep it safe as you will need it when the implementation period ends.

If you do not have a UK EORI number starting with ‘GB’ you should register for one at It’s quick and easy to register.

  • Decide how to make customs declarations

You’ll need to make customs declarations to import and export goods between GB and EU countries once we are outside of the EU’s customs territory.

If you’ve only ever traded with the EU, or if you already trade with non-EU countries but need to expand or change your processes to cover your GB-EU imports and exports, you should start to prepare now to make customs declarations, by deciding if you want to use a third party such as a customs agent or make declarations yourself.

If you decide to use a customs agent, you should start contacting agents now, to find out about the services they provide. You can find guidance by going to

Further service updates

Registration and use of Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) for imports from the EU is currently suspended. You will not need to use TSP between February and December 2020. If you applied for this service, please keep your paperwork safe. In addition, postponed VAT Accounting is currently not available during the implementation period.