UK Transition // Industry sector advice

Consumer goods

Check and change – 6 steps consumer goods companies can take to be ready to go after the transition period

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period will end on 31 December 2020. From January 2021, there will be important changes for businesses.

Here are six things consumer goods companies can check and change now to be ready to go. For more actions your business may need to take before January 2021 visit www.gov.uk/transition and use the checker tool.

  1. Use the ‘Check How to Export Goods’ tool on gov.uk to look up information on overseas tariffs, rules and border formalities for trading your goods worldwide.

    Use the ‘Check How to Export Goods’ service on GOV.UK to check duties and customs procedures for exporting your goods worldwide. Failure to complete the proper documentation or follow the correct procedures may result in delays getting goods through customs as well as unexpected taxes on goods upon entry to the destination and country. From January 2021, there will be new requirements for how you export goods from the UK. Use the service at: https://www.gov.uk/check-duties-customs-exporting.

  2. Business should consider whether changes to the framework for the exhaustion of IP rights will impact their business. They may want to seek legal advice to inform their assessment.

    If you currently export intellectual property protected goods (such as goods branded with a trade mark) from the UK to the EEA that have already been placed on the UK market, you may need to contact the rights holder to get permission to continue after 1 January 2021. If you own intellectual property rights in goods first sold in the UK, you will need to consider if you want to allow parallel exports of your intellectual property-protected goods from the UK to the EEA after 1 January 2021. More information is available here.

  3. Check if Import VAT is due at the border

    If you import any goods from the EU into Great Britain, you may need to pay Import VAT from 1 January 2021. Import VAT will not be due at the border if goods in a consignment are worth less than £135. The only exception to this is consignments containing excise goods, where Import VAT (along with Excise and Customs duties where applicable) will be due at the border. For more information, visit here.

  4. Be prepared on data protection and data transfers.

    If you’re a business or organisation that receives personal data from the EU/EEA, you may need to take action on data protection as we transition to our new relationship with the EU. Check how you can legally continue to receive personal data such as names, addresses or payroll details from organisations in the EU or EEA from 1 January 2021. You may need to update your contracts or take other steps.

    A UK company that receives customer information from an EU/EEA company, such as names and addresses of customers, suppliers or partners to provide goods or services should check how they can legally keep receiving the data from 1 January 2021.

    To understand more about the steps you need to take, visit here.

    A full list of EU and EEA countries is available at: https://www.gov.uk/eu-eea.

  5. Signpost your current employees to the EU Settlement Scheme

    If you employ EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, you can signpost them to the information they need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, enabling them to secure their future in the UK. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. Find out more here.

  6. Business should consider if any potential changes to the eligibility for unregistered designs rights in the UK and the EU will impact their business. 

    From 1 January 2021 onwards the unregistered Community design will no longer cover the UK.​ A new supplementary unregistered design, mirroring the characteristics of the Community right will be introduced in the UK. Unless there is an agreement on disclosure, eligibility will be restricted to the territory in which a design is first disclosed, either the UK or EU.​ You may not have IP protection in your most important market if you do not make an informed choice about first disclosure of their unregistered designs.

    You should consider if any potential changes to disclosure requirements will impact your business and check with your legal team about how best to secure unregistered design protection in the UK and EU.

    More information is available here

Further information

Speak with your lawyer and accountant or visit www.gov.uk/transition for tailored business information and to sign up for email updates. 

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