ao link

What does Brexit mean for your business?


What a year! With 2021 well underway and Brexit seemingly “done”, some people have understandably been left confused about what it means for their business. Between the pandemic and Brexit, there are very few things that we can control right now. However, what we can take charge of is how we respond to these challenges. In other words, how prepared we are. And that’s where we come in.


My name is Babs, and I run law firm Jamieson Law. We’re a law firm with a difference. We focus on helping small businesses and start-ups navigate their way through the treacherous legal waters, with simple language, fixed fees, and a helpful ear at the other end of the phone.


We have been overwhelmed with Brexit queries over the past few months. At the end of 2020 the question was “what do we do if there’s no deal?” Now it’s a case of “we have a deal, but what does it actually mean?” Everyone is puzzled, and I’m not surprised - it’s hardly straightforward.


As retailers, in many cases you will be reliant on EU companies for the goods that you sell. So, what are the key things that you should be doing to make sure your business is “Brexit ready”?


Importing from the EU

This applies to you if you are importing products from EU businesses. There are a few steps you need to follow:

  1. Decide between you and your EU supplier who the ‘importer of record’ is (i.e. the person responsible for clearing the goods through the UK border). In most cases, it will be you as the importer.
  2. Your business needs an EORI number (something I always struggle to say!). Most of you will be VAT registered, so you should already have one. If you don’t, you can get one here.
  3. The goods that cross the border will be subject to import VAT, charged by the UK Government. You can either pay this VAT at customs (when the goods cross the border) or you can defer it and declare it on your quarterly VAT return (this only applies if you are VAT registered).
  4. If you are not VAT registered, you’ll need to pay the VAT when your goods cross the border.
  5. This doesn’t apply to goods that are less than £135. For those goods, you’ll have paid the VAT at the time you paid your EU supplier.
  6. You also have to complete customs declarations for when the goods arrive in the UK. You can do this in one of two ways:
  • Purchase customs declarations software, get training on the process, get authorised by the UK government to submit declarations and apply for a ‘CHIEFS’ badge (access to HMRC’s import registration system); OR
  • Appoint a customs intermediary to submit the declarations for you. These are normally customs brokers, freight forwarders or fast parcel operators.

It is up to you which option you choose. Personally, I’d always prefer to outsource to the experts, but this will of course depend on your budget. You may also really enjoy filing those customs forms! If you do want to run this process yourself, you can find information on the software you need, here.

  1. Remember that the UK government is giving you until 1 July 2021 to delay doing customs declarations for goods you are importing now. This is to give you some time to get up to speed. If you do this, please keep accurate records of what you’re importing – otherwise there could be issues by the time July comes around.
  2. Your exporter should confirm the origin of the goods, before they are sent to you. The origin should be noted on the invoice, so that it is visible when passing through customs. Why is this important? Well, this is really what determines whether you pay customs tariffs or not (and what is leading to a lot of the confusion!) Here are the scenarios we’re dealing with:
  • If goods originate from the UK or the EU, there will be no tariffs when they cross the UK border
  • If goods originate from outside the UK or the EU, there will be tariffs when they cross the UK border

“Origin” doesn’t just refer to geography. It can mean where value was added to the goods. For example, if you have a supplier from Belgium who imports raw materials from China but manufactures LVT in Belgium, then the LVT is likely to have originated in Belgium.

  1. Where you do have to pay tariffs (i.e. where your goods originate outside the EU or the UK), you should consider setting up a duty deferment account. This means that you pay the tariffs at the end of each month, by direct debit, rather than paying it every time the goods cross the border. Less admin and less stress – always a plus!
  2. If your goods are sent by post instead of traditional importing on a ferry or through the Eurostar, Royal Mail (or another carrier) may require you to pay VAT and customs duties before they deliver the goods to you.

Why is this important?

Getting this process right is imperative to you getting your goods into the UK. Otherwise, we’re talking surprise customs tariffs, issues with VAT and HMRC, and potentially delay in getting your goods to your customers. Not what you want. This is a significant upheaval for UK businesses, and I understand it’s daunting right now. Over time, however, this process will become much the same as importing from a country like the U.S.


At Jamieson Law, we pride ourselves on helping small businesses understand their legal obligations and trying to make everything that bit less daunting. If you feel like you could benefit from some one-to-one advice on Brexit, or any other legal matter, please take advantage of our free 15-minute legal advice calls. These are not sales calls; just our way of giving back to the business community. You can book a slot here.


Babs Jamieson is CEO and Solicitor at Jamieson Law Ltd, she is qualified in England, Scotland, New York and California, and advises on a wide range of corporate and commercial law matters.


Babs saw the issues with the legal sector and was on a one-woman mission to shake things up! She has worked in big law firms, and with lots of small to medium-sized businesses, and knows there is a disconnect between what clients are looking for, and how big firms treat their clients.


Babs places huge value on building relationships - understanding a client’s business, supporting a growth journey, and being that port of call along the way. She believes that all legal advice should be easy to understand, straightforward and easy to apply. You won’t find any legal jargon or ass-covering legal opinions here! You can connect with Babs on LinkedIn here.

Follow Us

Our Partners

Media Partners


© The Flooring Show. Ocean Media Group, Suite 6.04, Exchange Tower, 6th Floor 1 Harbour Exchange Square, London, E14 9GE Tel: 020 77728300