The UK left the EU at 11pm on 31 January 2020. This marks the start of the so called ‘transition phase’ during which the UK will be working to agree a trade deal with the EU. The transition period will end on 31 December 2020 unless there is an agreement to extend it. The UK will also be seeking to negotiate trade agreements  with numerous other countries over the coming months. During the transition phase the UK will continue 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. 

Much of the preparation instigated by government during 2019 was aimed at ensuring businesses were ready for a ‘no deal’ scenario. Whilst this still remains a possibility there is now new impetus to secure an ongoing trade agreement. The information under the heading ‘Brexit – No Deal Preparations’ towards the end of this page was developed as a starting point for members to help them plan for a ‘no deal’ scenario. The aim being to provide sufficient information for you to decide whether the ‘issue’ is a priority for you and then signpost you to the detail should you need it, rather than flooding everyone with pages and pages of information which may not be that relevant.

Recent Government Announcements 

 NEW – 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. 

 NEW – The UK is introducing a points-based immigration system from 2021. The Home Office has created this page which will be updated with the latest information about the new-points based immigration system. You can also sign up for email alerts. New immigration system: what you need to know. 

 NEW – 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. 

 NEW – 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. 

 NEW – The Department for Exiting the European Union produced guidance on International Agreements with third countries during the transition period. International Agreements with Third Countries during the Transition Period. 

 NEW – 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. 

 NEW – 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. 

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

 NEW– 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 

 NEW – The Intellectual Property Office has produced guidance on how protection in the EU for databases produced in the UK will change after the end of the transition period. Sui generis database rights from 1 January 2021. 

 NEW – 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.

 NEW– 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. 

 NEW – 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. 

 NEW – 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. 


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.

Applying 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.




Protecting Design Intellectual Property – Brexit with “No Deal”

In preparation for a potential exit from the EU without a deal, the UK Government has introduced “The Designs and International Trade Marks (Amendment etc.) (EU exit) Regulations 2019 No. 638. These regulations will only come into force if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Industrial designs covering ornamental or aesthetic aspects of an article including shape, pattern, lines or colour are currently protected by registration with any EU-recognised official authority. Such protection will lapse on the day of our exit if the EU Withdrawal Agreement fails to be approved by the UK parliament.

On the 22ndMarch 2019, the UK Government published comprehensive guidance on how companies can continue to protect their design intellectual property going forward. The online address is here


Exporting to the EU ONLY – What to expect on the first day after Brexit with NO DEAL

Only in the event of a NO DEAL BREXIT, customs procedures will be implemented AS IS ALREADY CARRIED OUT FOR EXPORTS TO NON-EU COUNTRIES. Some Rail Forum members may need to apply for authorisations from HMRC before the end of October 2019 (the current date for the UK to leave the EU).

Unless members only import or export services and NOT GOODS, those continuing to trade exclusively with the EU will now need an UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. Members that already export or import goods to/from non-EU markets should already be familiar with EORI numbers.

Members can obtain their EORI number from here . This web page explains the information you will need to apply. The Northern Ireland/Ireland arrangements have yet to be clarified.

Before exporting goods to the EU:

  1. Check existing contract and International Terms and Conditions of Service (INCOTERMS) documentation meets Government guidance accessed through
  2. Decide how to submit export declarations – using your own resources or third parties. See If members decide to submit export declarations themselves, they need to consult HMRC to determine software and authorisation requirements. This will take time to set up.
  3. Identify the commodity code for the goods being exported – needed for custom declarations. See
  4. Identify if the goods being exported will incur import duties in the recipient EU country. See– Note: You will need the commodity code for the goods in question.
  5. Check if an export license is required. See
  6. Check if the goods are “restricted”. See
  7. Having obtained all the above information, identify which customs or excise procedure to follow. See
  8. Pay the required customs duty on the goods being exported. See https://www,
  9. NOTE: Some goods may benefit from a “duty suspension”. For further information, see

On exporting goods to the EU

  1. Complete and submit an export declaration using HMRC’s National Export System. See
  2. NOTE: The export declaration MAY need to be submitted in advance to gain “permission to export” before the goods leave the UK.
  3. If the member company is using a third party to assist in the export of the goods to the EU then you must also submit a commercial invoice to that third party. The invoice must show the following:

a)The selling price of the goods

b)Freight costs

c)Export insurance costs (if not included in the selling price)


VAT On Exported Goods after no-deal Brexit

VAT registered member companies

These members will continue to be able to zero-rate sales of goods to EU businesses BUT will no longer be require to complete EC sales lists.

Members will still need to keep evidence that the goods have left the UK if they have been zero rated. NOTE: HM Government may issue further details on the type of evidence required.

Goods sold to EU consumers will no longer be subject to “distant selling arrangements” so it will be possible to zero-rate the sales.

With no-deal Brexit, the EU should treat goods entering from the UK as though they are from other non-EU countries with associated import VAT and customs duties due when the goods arrive in the recipient EU country.

Each EU country MAY HAVE different import VAT rules that will require payment at their border. Unfortunately, Rail Forum members will need to find out the relevant import VAT rules that apply in the EU country concerned.


If the UK leaves without a deal, we will not be part of the EU-wide VAT IT systems.

  1. Using the EU’s VAT MOSS system for digital sales

If members selling DIGITAL SERVICES to EU consumers wish to continue using the EU’s MOSS system after Brexit, they will need to register with the non-EU MOSS scheme  either in any one EU country or if so desired, in each EU country where digital sales are made.

This can be done at any time after Brexit but registration must be done by the 10thday of the month following the first sale.

Further information can be found here

  1. EU VAT Refund Electronic Systems 

 After a no-deal Brexit, there will be no access to the EU VAT Refund Electronic System (EU VAT RES). Members can continue to claim VAT refunds from EU countries using the existing processes applied to non-EU businesses. Unfortunately, these processes differ from EU country to EU country.

There is some guidance available here

  1. Checking customer or supplier’s VAT registration number

After Brexit, members will STILL HAVE access the EU’s VIES VAT Registration Number Validation scheme to check if a customer or supplier’s VAT number is valid. However, UK VAT registration numbers WILL NOT BE PART OF THIS SERVICE.

HM Government is providing a UK-only online VAT number checker after Brexit to enable members to undergo due diligence as they see fit.


Driving in the EU after no-deal Brexit

The arrangements for driving in the EU have not yet been finalised so the information here could alter by the actual Brexit date. What follows is the latest information available (16thJuly 2019).

After no-deal Brexit, drivers will require additional documentation if driving in any EU or EEA country (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein). Those driving lorries or goods vehicles will require further documentation – see “Driving in the EU after Brexit – Lorry and goods vehicle drivers”.

Driving licences required when driving in the EU/EEA countries

On 28 March 2019, the EU/EEA changed the type of international driving permit (IDP) required.

Without a deal, UK drivers MAY require one or more IDPs PLUS their own UK driving licence when visiting EU and EEA countries (except when driving in Ireland – they currently do not require IDPs to be held for licence holders from non-EU countries).

There are three types of IDP available to UK licence holders. They are:

  • 1926 IDP
  • 1949 IDP
  • 1968 IDP

The type of IDP required depends on the countries being visited. The requirements for each country may be found here

Each IDP costs (July 2019) £5.50 available from most UK Post Offices.

NOTE: The UK Government is seeking new arrangements for the EU/EEA to recognise UK driving licences when people are visiting on holidays or business trips. However, there are currently no signs that an agreement will be reached in the event of a no-deal. If this remains the case, then drivers in the EU/EEA will require one or more IDPs.

Number plates and national identifiers

Under international conventions, GB is the distinguishing sign to display on UK-registered vehicles when driving outside of the UK.

After Brexit, the UK Government recommends that UK drivers display an additional GB sticker on the rear of their vehicle.

Vehicle registration documents

After no-deal Brexit drivers should continue to carry their vehicle registration documents with them when driving abroad for less than 12 months. This can be either:

  • The vehicle log book (V5C), if you have one
  • a VE103 to show you’re allowed to use your hired or leased vehicle abroad

UK vehicle safety and roadworthiness (MOT)

After no-deal Brexit, EU and EEA countries will not recognise UK MOT test certificates. However, at this time (July 2019), drivers will not need to retest their vehicles to drive it on a visit to an EU or EEA country.

Vehicle insurance for UK registered vehicles, caravans and trailers in the EU

Drivers in the EU/EEA MAY need a “Green Card” to provide evidence of motor insurance cover for their vehicle.

At present, a motor insurance Green Card is NOT REQUIRED when driving a UK registered-vehicle in the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.

However, in a no-deal situation, the European Commission MAY require drivers of UK registered vehicles in the future to carry a motor insurance Green Card when driving in the EU and EEA.

Some EU and EEA countries may also require a separate Green Card as proof of insurance for caravans and trailers. If you are travelling with a caravan or trailer, you will need 2 Green Cards: one for the towing vehicle, and one for the caravan or trailer.

Green cards are obtained from the vehicle insurance provider for the vehicle, caravan or trailer.

Road traffic accidents in the EU after a no-deal Brexit

After no-deal Brexit, drivers involved in a road traffic accident in an EU or EEA country are unlikely to be able to claim via a UK-based claims representative or the UK Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).

Instead, drivers will need to bring a claim against either the driver or the insurer of the vehicle in the EU or EEA country where the accident happened – often involving bringing the claim in the local language.

After no-deal Brexit, UK-licenced drivers involved in an accident in an EU or EEA country caused by an uninsured or an untraced driver, are unlikely  to receive compensation although this does vary from country to country.

Trailer registration

Commercial trailers weighing over 750kg and non-commercial trailers weighing over 3,500kg must be registered before towing them to or through most EU and EEA countries.

Trailers can be registered online


Driving Lorries and Goods Vehicles in the EU after no-deal Brexit

After a no-deal Brexit, drivers of lorries and goods vehicles will require additional documentation to drive in the EU and EEA. This may include the need for one or more International Driving Permits (IDPs) to drive the lorry or goods vehicle in the EU/EEA.

IDPs guidance may be found in the Rail Forum Midlands notes “Driving in the EU after no-deal Brexit”.

Haulage journeys to, in or through the EU/EEA

At present, drivers of lorries and goods vehicles must have a standard international operator’s licence PLUS a community licence for journeys to, from or through the EU or EEA.

Exception: Vehicles under 3.5 tonnes including vans and drivers carrying their own goods do not need an international operator’s licence or Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).

After no-deal Brexit

Drivers can continue to use their EU Community Licence until 31stDecember 2019. Extra permits to transport goods will only be required after 1stJanuary 2020. AT THIS TIME (JULY 2019) ARRANGEMENTS FOR HAULAGE IN THE EU HAVE NOT YET BEEN AGREED.

Between the date of no-deal Brexit and 31stDecember 2019, the following journeys will be allowed:

  • Journeys to and from the UK from an EU country – example driving from the UK to Germany
  • Driving through EU countries to reach another EU country – example driving through France to reach Spain
  • Limited cabotage or cross-trade. The rules on this are expected to change on the UK’s departure from the EU.

Driving through France for example to reach Switzerland will NOT be allowed. Such journeys will require an European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit – see

After April 2019, lorry and goods vehicle drivers renewing their International Operator’s licence would have been issued with a “UK Licence for the Community” instead of an EU Community Licence. These UK licences work in the same way as the EU Community Licence and allows the same journeys to be undertaken until the 31stDecember 2019. See

Arrangements are still being agreed (July 2019) for 2020 and beyond.

Haulage in the Republic of Ireland

With a no-deal Brexit, drivers holding Community Licences will still be allowed for journeys to and from Ireland, through Ireland to other EU/EEA countries or between Ireland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Trailer registration

Commercial trailers weighing over 750kg and non-commercial trailers weighing over 3500kg must be registered before towing them to or through most EU/EEA countries. A no-deal Brexit may result in some countries also requiring a separate “Green card” as proof of insurance for trailers.


Abnormal load trailers have additional requirements. See The keeper’s certificate must be kept in the vehicle when taken abroad.

Trailer registration is done online at

Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)

Drivers of lorries in the EU and EEA must hold a Driver CPC qualification. See

After Brexit, the UK has decided to continue recognising Driver CPC qualifications from EU countries. However, no such reciprocal agreement has yet been reached with the EU over UK issued Driver CPCs.

Accordingly, it may be prudent for those drivers working for an EU companyto exchange their UK Driver CPC for and EU Driver CPC before the UK leaves the EU. This is done by applying to the relevant body in an EU or EEA country.

Driving licences and international driving permits

Without a Brexit deal, drivers MAY need one or more international driving permits (IDPs) to continue driving in the EU and EEA countries. The exception is Ireland as they do not currently require UK drivers holding a driving licence to also have an IDP. See

The current requirements for drivers and IDPs is given here –

Number plates and national identifiers

After Brexit, it is recommended that haulage vehicles display a GB sticker on the rear of the vehicle whether the existing number plate includes the GB identifier or not. See

Vehicle registration documents

As now, vehicle registration documents should be carried in the vehicle. This can be:

  • Your vehicle log book (V5C) if you have one
  • A VE103 if the vehicle is hired or leased for use abroad

Vehicle insurance and road traffic accidents

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there MAY be changes to insurance documentation and action to take after accidents.

You may need to carry insurance Green Cards for both the vehicle and any trailer being towed while driving in the EU or EEA. See

Making insurance claims may require different actions when UK-registered haulage vehicles are involved in a road traffic accident in the EU or EEA. See

EU hauliers driving in the UK

The UK government has decided that EU hauliers will be able to continue to move goods in the UK, including journeys to and from the UK. EU hauliers’ Community Licences and CPC documents will continue to be recognised and they will not require ECMT permits (European Conference of Ministers of Transport permit) to operate in the UK after a no deal Brexit.