First and foremost, Brexit is complicated and will affect all businesses differently. The purpose of this post is to highlight some of the things you must be aware of if you run an e-commerce website in the UK and trade with customers within the EU (or import your goods from the EU to be sold to customers within the UK).
To be sure your business is ready, we also recommended using The Government’s Brexit Transition checker on their website.
We have split various conditions below, which if your e-commerce site meets, will be applicable to you.
Exporting and Importing products/goods to customers in the EU.
If you are sending goods by post to customers based in the EU, you must now be declaring this with customs.
There are two ways you can do this, the first of which is by far the easiest, which is to use a courier, who will declare this on your behalf.
The second method is to declare it yourself. You can find out how to do this on The Government’s Website.
Likewise, if you are importing goods from the EU, you must again declare this with customs. The methods by which you do this are the same as if you were exporting.
Types of Goods
The rules on exporting are changing for certain types of products. For instance, you may now need a license. Details on whether you need a license or certificate can be found here.
If you are sending goods to a business in the EU, they must have the necessary arrangements in place to declare imports, and have the required certificates/licenses, so check with them before sending.
EORI and VAT
EORI stands for Economic Operators Registration and Identification number, and is now required by all businesses who trade with countries within the EU.
You can apply for your EORI number here, ensuring that it starts with GB. It can take up to a week for you to receive your EORI number, so do it as soon as you can.
If you only provide services, you do not need to apply for an EORI number.
VAT registered business can charge VAT at 0% for most goods being exported to the EU. To check which goods are zero-rate, click here.
When receiving goods from the EU, you will need to pay VAT and any Customs Duty. You can pay for this either when the goods enter the UK, or pay monthly.
Employing EU nationals
If the logistics of your e-commerce site rely on the work of EU nationals through employment, you must ensure they have the correct permits and visa. Employment law specialists will be able to help with this if you need any assistance. Alternatively, there is more information on the Government’s website.
If your e-commerce site is hosted in an EU country, there is a risk that you may not be able to access any personal information stored on your servers. At the time of writing, the EU has not yet decided on whether information can flow freely between the EU and UK as it does now.
Please check with your hosting provider to ensure you can continue to receive personal information. This could affect you receiving postal addresses and names, something you definitely need for a functioning e-commerce site.
There will be no changes to have personal data flows from the UK to the EU.
GDPR will be retained in law, along with the Data Protection Act 2018, post-Brexit.
For more information on personal data, please visit the Government’s Website. More information can also be found on the ICO’s (Information Commissioner’s Office) website.
If you manufacture the goods yourself, there may be new rules relevant to the type of goods you are making.
This is not needed for most goods, however it is still worth checking here.
If you need any assistance with this, it is recommended that you speak with a solicitor or your relevant trade association. If you don’t have a relevant trade association, then you’re probably fine.
If your e-commerce site has a domain name ending in .eu, you may not be able to continue using this.
There are two criteria which need to be met to ensure you can keep your .eu domain name:
- Your business must be established within the EU
- You are either a Citizen or Resident of the EU
If you do not meet the above criteria, you will not be able to retain your domain name. If this affects you, get in touch with us, as are able to setup a new domain for you, and link it to your existing site.
Are you ready?
This is complicated, there’s no getting away from that, so we hope this post has highlighted some of the most urgent things you need to work on.
Our recommendations are not exhaustive, and you should still check on the UK Government’s Website for any other outstanding actions you need to complete.
If you would like Glimpse Media to review your e-commerce business’ readiness for Brexit, get in touch.