The UK left the EU at 11pm on 31 January 2020. This marked the start of the so called ‘transition phase’ during which the UK has been working to agree a trade deal with the EU. The transition period will end on 31 December 2020. The UK is also in the process of negotiating trade agreements with numerous other countries. During the transition phase the UK has continued to be subject to EU rules and remain a member of the single market and customs union. Post 31 December the future arrangements will depend on whatever agreements are reached. 

This link provides a list of actions of what you can do now, all transition period information and the opportunity for you to sign up to email alerts about the transition period. 

Whilst there have been several rounds of trade negotiations there has also been much political posturing on both sides and a ‘no deal’ remains a real possibility and we would encourage members to plan for all eventualities  as the 31st December 2020 deadline rapidly approaches.


Migration and EU Workers

The UK is introducing a points-based immigration system from January 2021. Full information about the new arrangements can be found here 

EU Settlement Scheme

Rail Forum members may be employing European Union (EU), European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Swiss citizens. Both they and their family members that have not:

  • Already obtained or hold British citizenship or
  • Hold indefinite leave to remain or enter the UK

but work or live in the UK should now apply to the EU Settlement Scheme online. The deadline is end of June 2021. Applying for and being granted UK settlement protects their employment, healthcare, benefits and pension rights after the UK leaves the EU.

Applications are free and done online here

The application is a three-staged one where applicants need to:

  • Prove their identity,
  • Confirm that they live in the UK and
  • Declare any criminal convictions.


Trade and Customs 

HMRC have created a series of short videos aimed at helping those businesses brand new to customs:

They have also written to businesses about the new trading arrangements when the UK leave the EU single market and customs Union.  You can find a copy of the letter here. An overview of the steps to take is below.

  • You should already have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. You will need this to complete customs declarations. If you do not yet have one, you can register for free here.
  • Decide how you’re going to make customs declarations. Customs agents, freight forwarders and express operators can help you with declarations and ensure you’re providing the necessary information. Find out more here.
  • Most traders with a good compliance record will be able to defer import declarations on most goods for up to 6 months after 1 January 2021. Apply to use simplified declarations for imports here.
  • Decide how you will account for import VAT when you make a customs declaration. From 1 January 2021, businesses will be able to use postponed VAT accounting to account for import VAT on their VAT Return for goods imported from anywhere in the world.
  • Check if Import VAT is due at the border. Import VAT will not be due at the border if goods in a consignment do not exceed £135 in value. The only exceptions will be excise goods and gifts.
  • Check the Controlled goods list to see if you need to complete declarations from January. If your goods are not on the list you can choose to delay import declarations until July 2021.

Find out what grants you can apply for to get funding for recruitment, training and IT improvements if your business completes customs declarations. Further information is available here.

UK Global Tariff
From 1 January 2021, there will be new rates of Customs Duty for imports – called the UK Global Tariff. Please ensure you understand the amount of duty you will have to pay on your imported materials.

Trader Support Service: Moving Goods Between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The free Trader Support Service (TSS) will handle the new processes arising under the Northern Ireland Protocol for you from 1 January 2021. Register your interest for using this service here. . TSS is not available for goods moved between Great Britain and the EU.


Conformity Related (CE Marking)
For goods being placed into the EU from January 2021 any mandatory conformity assessment will need to be carried out by an EU-recognised conformity assessment body. This includes both EU based bodies and bodies in countries with which the EU has concluded a mutual recognition agreement. UK conformity assessment bodies will no longer be able to carry out mandatory conformity assessment for products being placed on the EU market unless agreed in negotiations.
New guidance explains how to use the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking. The UKCA marking is a new UK product marking that will be used for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). It covers most goods which previously required the CE marking. The UKCA marking can be used from 1 January 2021. However, to allow businesses time to adjust to the new requirements, you will still be able to use the CE marking until January 2022 in most cases.


REACH Chemical Regulations 
Guidance on how to comply with the UK and EU REACH chemical regulations when using, making, selling or importing chemicals in the EU can be found here


Free Trade Deals
The UK has secured a free trade agreement with Japan, which is the UK’s first major trade deal as an independent trading nation and will increase trade with Japan by an estimated £15.2 billion.  UK businesses will benefit from tariff-free trade on 99% of exports to Japan. The deal is also an important step towards joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The deal will give UK businesses a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region. Further details can be found here.

The Department for International Trade have published guidance to help you find out which trade agreements with non-EU countries are in place during and after the transition period. UK trade agreements with non-EU countries. 


Intellectual Property

The Intellectual Property Office has produced information on trademarks, designs, patents, copyright, and exhaustion of IP rights during the transition period. Intellectual property and the transition period.

The Intellectual Property Office has produced guidance for businesses and organisations holding EU trademarks at the end of the transition period. EU trademark protection and comparable UK trademarks. 

The Intellectual Property Office has produced guidance for business holding registered community designs and international trademarks and designs after the end of the transition period. Changes to EU and international designs and trade mark protection from 1 January 2021. 

The Intellectual Property Office has produced guidance for businesses who have unregistered community designs. Changes to unregistered designs from 1 January 2021

The Intellectual Property Office has produced guidance covering the impacts on UK right holders, businesses, cultural heritage institutions and consumers. It is not legal advice. Changes to copyright law from1 January 2021.

The Intellectual Property Office has produced guidance on actions that parallel exporters to the EEA and intellectual property rights holders will need to take after the transition period. Exhaustion of IP rights and parallel trade from 1 January 2021. 

The Intellectual Property Office has produced guidance on international trademark registrations protected in the EU under the Madrid Protocol will no longer enjoy protection in the UK after the transition period. Changes to international trade mark registrations from 1 January 2021. 


Other Guidance and Information 

The Competition and Markets Authority has published guidance on its functions under the Withdrawal Agreement. The guidance is intended for businesses and their legal advisors but may also be of interest to other enforcers. UK Exit from the EU: Guidance on the functions of the CMA under the Withdrawal Agreement. 

The Ministry of Justice has produced guidance for legal services business owners on preparing the end of the transition period.  Legal services business owners from 1 January 2021 

Companies House has produced guidance to help you find out whether your business will need to change its company registration from 1 January 2021, and how to do this. Changing your company registration from 1 January 2021. 


To support business preparations the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is hosting free live and recorded webinars to help you check the new rules and understand the actions to take. See the full schedule and sign up to for live sessions here. Following the initial broadcast the webinars will be available on demand. The live sessions will take place at the following times: