Brexit was once the main topic of conversation in every home, office and pub in the country.

Then the pandemic hit, and Brexit was quickly knocked off the front page. But with the transition period coming to an end on 31 December 2020, it’s once again on the radar of people and businesses across the UK.

And although we don’t yet know exactly what will happen after this date, we do know there will at least be some changes to trade between the EU and the UK. So, how might Brexit affect your business growth and global expansion plans? And what do we know so far?

Let’s take a closer look…

There are virtually no companies in the UK that won’t need to make at least some changes to the way they do business. Even EU-based firms with operations in the UK will also be affected. So, the question is one of degree.

However, although every organisation faces different challenges when it comes to the UK leaving the EU, there are some key challenges that we’ll all need to address — from increased costs and delay to supply chains to additional duties and significant administrative burdens.

The impact of Brexit on regulation is potentially also enormous. Copyright, trademarks and patents could all be affected. As could the transfer of personal data between the EU and the UK.

Yet, one of the biggest concerns for many UK businesses is how Brexit will affect their workforce. Will their current staff need a visa? What if they want to hire EU citizens? When the UK cuts its ties with the EU, many mutually recognised qualifications and relevant licences could also be rendered redundant. 

These areas of business will need to be examined and potentially revised — either regarding new regulations that the UK and EU agree or a potential no-deal scenario.

So, what are some of the regulations that have already been settled? 

The story so far

There are still plenty of terms to be worked out, and the full extent of the post-Brexit business world is not yet clear. But some regulatory requirements have been decided.

Importing goods from and exporting goods to the EU will switch to a similar process as trading with non-EU countries. You’ll need to declare imports via an entry summary declaration (meaning those goods will be eligible for customs duties and import VAT), make customs declarations for exports, and you’ll need an EORI number starting with GB. Exports to non-EU countries will need to be considered on an individual basis.

To tackle the new complexities around importing and exporting, you may choose to use a third party such as a freight forwarder, customs agent or fast parcel operator to alleviate some of the administrative headaches.

Then there’s the matter your international workforce. Many businesses recruit from overseas to get access to a wider talent pool, and UK businesses will still be able to employ EU citizens after Brexit, there’ll be a few regulatory hurdles to overcome.

As of 1 January 2021, EU citizens moving to the UK for work will need a visa. To get this, they’ll need to show they have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor. So, if you plan on employing staff from the EU as part of your global expansion plans, you should apply to become a sponsor as soon as possible.

To remain working in the UK, any current employees who are EU, EEA or Swiss citizens will also need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021.

Much like a freight forwarder can assist with importing and exporting goods, a Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) can help you manage the complexities surrounding international employment and regulatory compliance.

Worth the forethought

Brexit is frequently seen as a risk, yet it’ll bring a wealth of new opportunities for those businesses that are prepared and ready to capitalise on them. However, while the UK leaving the EU presents many prospects for growth, the end of the transition period will affect many businesses in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

Careful planning is a must — and seeking the help of an expert in the field is highly recommended.

Looking for an international PEO to help you navigate the waters post-Brexit? At PEO Worldwide, we provide hassle-free management of your employees from start to finish and keep you on the right side of compliance, always. Get in touch to find out more.