Brexit FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Brexit and the impact on businesses.

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When does the UK leave the European Union?
On 29 March 2019 at 11pm UK time (midnight Brussels time)

What is the transition period and how long will it last?
The proposed transitional deal will see the current arrangements in terms of customs and trade and more generally access to the EU single market continue exactly as are until the end of 2020. We campaigned for and welcomed the transition deal, however EEF feels this is too short to reach a comprehensive trade agreement.
Trade deals routinely take between 5 and 7 years to work out. We cannot expect to achieve a meaningful trade agreement in just 19 months so we are campaigning hard with government to have this reflected in the final deal.

What is the Customs Union?
This is an area with a common set of rules for trading goods. They are applied at the border of the Customs Union. The Customs Union is made up of all Member states of the European Union together with certain others. No customs duties are levied on goods travelling within the customs union and—unlike a free trade area—members of the customs union impose a common external tariff on all goods entering the union from further afield.

EEF is working closely with our members and lobbying government to avoid any slide back to hard borders, tariffs and complex customs arrangements. These would have tremendous impact on productivity, thousands of jobs and the UK economy as a whole. We are asking that government delivers:

• A low administrative threshold for manufacturers
• Tariff free and quota free movement of goods
• Common rules of origin with the EU and the rest of the world

What is the Single Market?

The European Single Market, or Common Market, is a single area where goods, services and capital can move freely and people can travel without barriers. Within this area, EU businesses and people can trade as easily with another member state as they can in their own member state.
The government has set a red line on movement of people and the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice, which will therefore leave the UK firmly outside the Single Market.

EEF is actively campaigning for a system that:
• Allows flexible movement of people
• Has closely aligned regulation between the EU and UK and
• A system of arbitration that works for both

What are tariffs?
Tariffs are customs duties or taxes which are charged on specific products as they cross borders between countries. At present, there are no tariffs on goods as they cross the EU border from the UK.
Post-Brexit, in the event there is no deal, the EU will look to charge tariffs on products entering the EU. The UK will also charge tariffs on products entering the UK.

Customs administration – how will it work?
After Brexit, there will be new customs administration forms to fill in. Until negotiations are completed, we do not know exactly what form these customs procedures will take.

However, it is likely members will need to complete new customs declarations before they are able to have their products cross the border into the EU, and on any components they import from the EU.

Rules of origin (ROO) - What do I need to know?
Rules of Origin show the economic nationality of the product. They need to be agreed between the EU and the UK. Once agreed, to prove British origin of a good, a certificate of origin (often abbreviated to C/O or CoO) is needed. In can be a printed form or an electronic document. It is completed by the exporter and certified by a recognised issuing body, showing that the goods in a particular export shipment have been produced, manufactured or processed in a particular country. You can find out more using our exclusive Brexit trade tool.

Will our standards stay the same post-Brexit?

Our national standards agency the British Standards Institute (BSI) must be a fully-fledged member of the European standards setting agencies – in a position to lend its considerable knowledge to this complex issue.

What regulation changes will there be?
As a country we need to retain the status quo – that is high regulatory alignment with the EU to protect our current trading relationships after the transition period comes to an end in 2020. As a country we have a mass of technical expertise which we can contribute and EEF is campaigning hard to make sure the UK has a say at the decision making table – both creating new regulation or adapting what already exists.

What is happening about the Irish Border problem?
This is a sticking point for negotiations with the EU. The UK government has committed to ensuring there is no introduction of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and no new physical infrastructure at the border, which would usually be necessary between an EU border and that of a non-member. We will share detail on what government plans are when they are confirmed.

Will there be new trade deals for the UK?
Government is currently working to seek out new trade opportunities for the UK outside the EU. Ministers and officials from the Department of International Trade are speaking to governments around the globe, and have already been to Saudi Arabia, Australia, India and USA.

Will I still be able to employ people from the EU?

Access to skills is a major concern for UK manufacturing, already struggling with a significant and well-document domestic skills gap. For many years, our sector has been using EU labour to fill those gaps. Couple this with record low unemployment and we are left with areas in the UK with little – or no – flex in the labour market.
To maintain our profitability and keep jobs safe, we need to retain a flexible system for the movement of labour and skills between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

What can I do to prepare my business now?

1. Acquiring AEO – Authorised Economic Operator status.
AEO status can provide the right to ‘fast-track’ shipments through the customs process. Some 13,000 vehicles carrying goods pass through British ports each day – with an excess of 10,000 coming either to or from other EU member states. Stringent new checks at borders will mean that there will be a rush of applications for AEO status. Many traders will have to make customs declarations for the first time post Brexit, and AEO status could be useful in mitigating this complex process.

There is a complex application process with around 270 questions on legal, HR, IT and financial issues. It can take six months to properly prepare an application, so start now. You can get support through this process from our exclusive Brexit trade tool.

2. Another helpful document to secure is the Single Administrative Document (SAD), also known as Form C88 in the UK.

This is the main customs form used in international trade to or from the European Union Customs Union. It helps traders with declaring import, export, transit and community status declarations for countries outside the EU. It also covers the movement of non-EU goods within the EU.

Following EU exit, this may be a tool which will be used for all imports and exports between the UK and the EU.

Has the UK reached an agreement with the EU on the rights of EU citizens already in the UK?
The UK has reached an agreement in principle with the EU on the rights of citizens already in the UK, but with some details left to be decided. The deal still needs to be finally signed off later this year or early next.

Will this agreement mean that my EU employees who are already working in my business will be able to stay and work in the UK after Brexit?
Yes, the agreement will allow EU citizens already in the UK to stay after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 and in due course gain permanent settlement here, known as ‘settled status’. They will be able to continue to live and work in the UK permanently. Their rights to healthcare and access to benefits will also continue. This part of the deal applies to EU citizens, their families and dependents also in the UK and will be subject to a formal application process made under the new EU Settlement Scheme which includes the payment of a fee.

Does the same deal cover EU citizens, their families and dependents arriving in the implementation period (the time between March 2019 and December 2020)?
Yes it does. The agreement extends the same protections to EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK, whether that is before the date the UK leaves the EU (BREXIT date – 29th March 2019), or during the implementation period (which starts immediately after 29th March 2019 and runs until 31st December 2020).

Does the agreement cover all EU citizens?
Yes it does, however, citizens of the Republic of Ireland are already covered by a separate agreement with the UK. This agreement treats Irish citizens for most purposes the same as UK citizens, and the UK has signalled its intention to carry this agreement forward after BREXIT. EU citizens with a British passport need to nothing differently post-Brexit. Whilst the agreement with the EU does not cover the citizens of the non-EU European Economic Area states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland, the Government intends to secure a similar deal for citizens of these states living in the UK and for UK nationals living there.

Who is eligible to apply for settled status?
EU citizens and their family members who, by 31 December 2020, have been continuously resident in the UK for five years will be eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme for ‘settled status’, enabling them to stay in the UK indefinitely.

What about those EU citizens who arrive by 31st December 2020 but haven’t been continuously resident in the UK for five years?
EU citizens and their family members who arrive by 31 December 2020, but will not yet have been continuously resident in the UK for five years, will be eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme for ‘pre- settled status’.

Pre-settled status means that the person will be granted five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK and they will be eligible to apply for settled status as soon as they reach the five-year threshold.

What does ‘continuously resident’ mean?
Continuously resident in the UK generally means that the individual must not have been absent from the UK for more than six months in total in any 12-month period. There is no restriction on the number of absences permitted, provided that the total period of absence does not exceed six months in any 12-month period. There are some limited exemptions for absences up to 12 months for illness, training, pregnancy or an overseas posting.

Will family members be able to apply for settled status?
Yes, although there may be some difference in the position of family members depending on when they entered the UK. Whilst every individual person needs to satisfy the new requirements of the EU Settlement Scheme, applications made at the same time by families will be considered together and in some circumstances where an EU parent is entitled to settled status, other family members will also be similarly entitled, even if they have not lived in the UK for 5 years. Close family members joining an EU citizen here after 31 December 2020 will have three months from their arrival in which to make an application for status under the Scheme (or until 30 June 2021 if they arrive before 1 April 2021).

How long will an EU citizen have to apply for settled status?

Applications under the EU Settlement Scheme can be made from later this year but EU citizens residing in the UK will have until the end of June 2021 to submit their application for settled status or pre-settled status. They do not need to have acquired five years’ residence in the UK by June 2021, merely submit an application for either settled status or pre-settled status.

How much will it cost to apply under the Settlement Scheme?
The application fee will be £65 for an adult and £32.50 for a child. There will, from April 2019, be no application fee for settled status where the person already has pre-settled status granted under the Scheme. Also, if the applicant already has a permanent residence document then the application is free.

What is involved in the EU Settlement Scheme Process?
The EU Settlement Scheme will be a digital application process. There are a number of core criteria which applicants will need to meet:
• Proof of Identity – verifying their identity and nationality, generally through their passport, national identity card or biometric residence permit (we understand that there are very few of these and in most cases a passport will be needed).
• Eligibility – establishing that the applicant is resident in the UK and, if appropriate, is a family member of an eligible EU citizen. Where possible, establishing continuous residency will be carried out on an automated basis using data from HMRC.
• Payment of the fee - £65 for an adult application.
• Suitability (criminality) –a criminality and security check will be carried out on applicants.
• Identity verification – the applicant will need to provide a facial image which will be checked against the photograph on their passport or ID card.

How is residency in the UK established?
The most straightforward applications will have the length of UK residence confirmed by automated checks of HMRC, showing tax paid in the UK. However, the applicant will also be able to upload documentary evidence to prove their residency. The Government will publish a list of the forms of documentary evidence which the applicant will be able to provide. The documents that are likely to be acceptable include a signed and dated letter from an employer confirming the period of UK-based employment, payslips and addressed council tax bills.

When will the application process go live?
The EU Settlement Scheme will open in the autumn of 2018, but this may be restricted to some groups at first. The system will open fully at the time that the UK leaves the EU – 29th March 2019.

What’s the position of UK citizens and their families in the EU?
The same agreement which allows EU citizens to remain in the UK between 29 March 2019 and 31 December 2020, covers UK citizens in the EU, where there will be equivalent arrangements put in place. This will allow UK nationals resident in the EU to settle permanently and continue to live/work/study in the EU member state where they reside after the UK leaves the EU but not generally throughout the EU.


For further information please contact brexit@eef.org.uk

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