After much waiting, it's finally here. No matter which side of the fence you are on, the Brexit transition period is set to end, and additional regulations will be in place from 1st January when dealing with Europe.
At first thought, you may think these changes will not affect you, or your business directly, but there are still some things to keep in mind going forward. The government has created a Brexit readiness checklist on their website, but we've touched on some of the key notes below.
As it stands, at the start of 2021, the UK will automatically switch to a localised version of current data protection requirements (UK-GDPR) to ensure personal data is kept secure. This means that the information collected by your website, still need to be kept in a secure environment and customers must be given the ability to opt in to any mailing lists.
As it stands, the EU is still assessing if the UK's data protection requirements are sufficient enough to allow for the continued transfer of personal data from EU and EEA to the UK. The government suggests having plans in effect if your business relies on data transfers to or from the continent until the assessment is complete.
By leaving the EU, this also means UK businesses may no longer be entitled to use a '.eu' domain name, and may have difficulties in renewing the top level domains of member states such as .fr for France. Of course .com and .co.uk domains will carry on as standard. If you currently use a European domain name, check with your domain registrar.
Imports and Exports
If your business trades with the EU, you may need to ensure you have the correct systems in place for increased customs requirements. This could affect both you and your European client. If you are currently working with a courier or delivery firm, they may be able to include this as part of their services. If you import/export with a non-EU country, then double check that the UK has created its own trade agreements or you could be hit with unexpected customs fees.
For ecommerce websites, you may need to think about where your customers are, and if you'll need to post items to the EU. Depending on the trade agreements made with the EU on trade, there could be import duties due to your customers, or changes in how VAT is calculated.
Once Brexit comes into effect, personal travel to the EU, will still be possible, but worth double checking. Driving abroad may require additional documents dependant on the country you are visiting. Travel for business may require additional checks, such as informing HMRC if you are working abroad. Be aware that your current European Health Insurance Card will only valid until the end of this year, standard overseas health insurance will be needed instead.
If you are travelling on business in the EU then be aware that mobile phone roaming fees may return, depending on the agreements in place between mobile operators, and that extra checks could be in place at port crossings or if using the Channel Tunnel, leading to possible delays.
It's been a tough year for all with the Covid pandemic, but there is still time to ensure your company is able to thrive come 2021. Check out the government guidelines for the latest Brexit advice, and feel free to get in touch with ourselves regarding getting your website online and UK-GDPR safe.