Whether there is a Brexit deal or not, changes are coming as of January 1, 2021. At that point, the United Kingdom will no longer be part of the European Union. Whether you import or export (or both), there is a good chance that you will be affected. Many of our clients have used the UK as an entry point to the EU. That might no longer be the best strategy.
And there are tariff, customs, regulatory and other changes (with associated costs) that are coming. These changes might mean that you need to consider your product labeling, CE/UKCA marking or VAT Registration. You may even prefer to establish a new presence in the EU (in addition to whatever links you already have in the UK). Now is also a good time to re-evaluate your contracts and relationships with both customers and suppliers in the UK and EU.
If you are currently exporting to the UK, with some of your goods staying there and others being shipped out to EU destinations, you might consider utilizing a UK “customs warehouse.” (Like a Foreign Trade Zone or “bonded warehouse” in the U.S., you can achieve some cash flow benefit, as well as avoiding double import duties.)
You should also be aware that a new version of INCOTERMS became available in 2020. This does not mean that the INCOTERMS that you currently use with your vendors or customers must change; but, this is something that you should verify. If your contract documents are not specific as to INCOTERMS 2000, 2010 or 2020, then you might suffer due to changes that could unintentionally become part of your deal. Your contract documents should clearly specify which version of INCOTERMS the parties intend.
Unfortunately, at this point there are still many more Brexit questions than there are answers. But that does not mean that you should simply sit by and wait. We suggest that you speak with your tax and legal advisors to evaluate your unique circumstances and consider what actions might be prudent. The UK is leaving the EU; we just don’t know all the details yet.