Bath Chronicle

Are you ready for the change?

BRI­TAIN HAS LEFT THE EU, AND AS WE COUNT DOWN TO THE END OF THE TRAN­SI­TION PE­RIOD, NOW IS THE TIME FOR BUSI­NESSES TO PRE­PARE FOR THE FU­TURE

- Business · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · European Union · United Kingdom · China · Government of the United Kingdom · Germany

Busi­ness own­ers who trade with the EU need to pre­pare for changes com­ing their way at the end of the year. The UK has now left the EU and will leave the sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union when the tran­si­tion pe­riod ends on De­cem­ber 31. Get­ting ready now means com­pa­nies will be well placed to take ad­van­tage of new op­por­tu­ni­ties from Jan­uary 1, 2021, and it’s easy to do, thanks to a check­list at gov.uk/tran­si­tion. One busi­ness owner who has done so is Alex Ste­wart, founder of eco-con­scious travel goods start-up Onenine5. The coro­n­avirus pan­demic hit sales hard, but as they start to re­cover, Alex is de­ter­mined to be ready for the new start in Jan­uary. “I looked at gov.uk/tran­si­tion and it took just 10-15 min­utes to work my way through the checker,” says Alex, who spe­cialises in stylish wash­bags made us­ing re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als. “My pri­mary con­cern was around move­ment of sales from Jan­uary 1, so I took screen­shots from the web­site of ev­ery­thing we needed to do,” he says. “The first thing was to get an EORI num­ber start­ing with GB. It was re­ally straight­for­ward – we re­ceived it in about ten days. We ac­tu­ally did this in ad­vance be­cause we im­port from China. You go on­line and as long as you have your reg­is­tered com­pany de­tails it’s re­ally straight­for­ward.” The EORI num­ber al­lows busi­nesses to move goods be­tween coun­tries – it tracks and reg­is­ters cus­toms in­for­ma­tion, so if your busi­ness is im­port­ing and ex­port­ing it’s im­por­tant to check you have the GB ver­sion now. Af­ter us­ing the UK Gov­ern­ment’s tran­si­tion tool, Alex also found he needed to take ac­tion cus­toms dec­la­ra­tions. “The key things we learned from the tran­si­tion tool are around ac­count­ing and re­port­ing and im­port tar­iffs,” he says. “We’ve now asked our ac­coun­tants to start fig­ur­ing it out.” “We’re work­ing out how we doc­u­ment all the tar­iff codes and the per­cent­age of that tar­iff we’ll have to pay. We know we’ll have to make new cus­toms dec­la­ra­tions.” An­other thing that will change from Jan­uary 1 is the rule around trade­marks and IP. For a busi­ness like Onenine5, its unique de­signs are very im­por­tant, so Alex is keen to make sure they’re pro­tected. “We have a UK trade­mark and a Euro­pean trade­mark, but at the mo­ment you get more pro­tec­tion as part of an EU mem­ber state, for ex­am­ple, with de­sign rights. From Jan­uary 1 you’ll get an equiv­a­lent UK trade­mark. As a start-up, it gives you peace of mind to know you’ve got that pro­tec­tion – our de­signs are key to our busi­ness.” There’ll also be changes around data pro­tec­tion rules for com­pa­nies hold­ing in­for­ma­tion from EU coun­tries, but Alex is pre­pared for this. “The one thing we pro­baround ably will have to do from a GDPR per­spec­tive is, when we ask peo­ple to sign up to our news­let­ters, in other parts of the EU we’ll have to send an email to ask them to ap­prove that sign-up,” he ex­plains. “So it’s an ex­tra step to make sure we’re EU com­pli­ant, but we don’t want to fall short, es­pe­cially since data pro­tec­tion laws are more strin­gent in Ger­many, which is our sec­ond big­gest mar­ket out­side the UK.” Prepar­ing now means a smooth tran­si­tion and be­ing ready to em­brace new op­por­tu­ni­ties next year. “The key thing is get­ting ev­ery­thing ar­ranged now,” says Alex. “We want to be proac­tive now, rather than be re­ac­tive af­ter Jan­uary 1.”

The first thing was to get an EORI num­ber start­ing with GB. It was re­ally straight­for­ward – we re­ceived it in about ten days

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