Preparing for the Brexit Transition
With the final curtain on our EU membership all but dropped, most businesses will have already made preparations for the transition out of the EU. However, with a few days to go, it might be valuable to run through your preparations one final time.
Recently, The Law Society listed the steps that should be taken by law firms to ensure that a business is ready for the end of the transition period and able to continue into 2021 with as little disruption as possible. Most of these points can equally be applied to businesses in any industry.
Data Protection and GDPR
If you’re not processing any data from countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) you do not have to make any adjustments. However, if you are, consult the Information Commissioner’s Office’s guidance on transfer of data between the UK and other countries. Permissions gained from individuals while the UK was part of the EU may cease to apply.
Technology Partners and Providers
Ensure that any agreements, such as web hosting and domain registration, will continue after 2020. For example, if you hold a .eu domain you may no longer be able to renew it unless specific criteria are met.
Intellectual Property (IP)
If your company holds any IP registrations with the EU Intellectual Property Office, you must confirm that the rights have been transferred to the UK IPO before the end of the transition. Going forward, ensuring protection for trade marks, for example, will need to be reviewed.
Employees travelling into the EU for short-term business visits will be exempt from visa requirements. Eligible EEA and Swiss employees who are residing in the UK before the end of 2020 will need to register under the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021.
Employee’s Ability to Live and Work in Europe
If your company has a presence in the EU, any employees working in the EU, the EEA, or Switzerland must be registered to live and work abroad with the relevant state authorities. While there is currently legislation to allow these employees to continue to live and work in member states, this applies only to a transitional period and does not apply to new employees who may be travelling to Europe from 2021.
Contracts for Goods and Services Received
It is likely that there will be some disruption in the freight industry, so contact European supplies to verify that contingency plans are in place.
Despite the deal being agreed just before Christmas, the VAT elements of the deal remain complex. Involving changes to, among other elements, Customs Duty tariffs, Inward Processing Relief, and EU VAT registration, and company without a dedicated VAT accounting function should seek expert help.
Companies that continue to operate in the EU must ensure that liability insurances provide correct and adequate cover. Ranging from indemnity cover to company vehicle insurance, the end of the transition period may mean that additional cover acquired in the country of operation be taken.
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