Business West offers advice and support for firms struggling with post-Brexit trade 

International trade cargo

With the UK now outside of the European Union as of 31st December 2020, there are new rules and regulations businesses must adhere to when trading with the EU. As reports emerge of how the new requirements are causing confusion for firms as well as disrupting supply chains, Business West outlines the changes businesses are facing and how companies can adapt.

Catherine Stephens, Head of International Trade Services at Business West said: “Businesses are facing a multitude of post-Brexit changes currently and with the Coronavirus pandemic already disrupting supply chains, this is causing understandable confusion and frustration for firms.

“There are however ways companies can get prepared for trading with the EU and we want to assure businesses of the support available.”

One of the biggest changes is the need for businesses to complete customs declarations when exporting or importing goods to and from the EU. When trading with the EU, companies can register their interest in ChamberCustoms, a service run by Business West which takes care of customs declarations for companies, removing the hassle and ensuring customs clearance is accurate and timely to avoid delays and extra costs at the border.

Businesses are also now required to show where their goods were made and where the parts of those products have come from to determine whether tariffs are levied when entering the EU.

The European Community (EC) Certificate of Origin has been replaced by a United Kingdom Certificate of Origin. This form shows the origin of goods, what the goods are, their weight and country of destination

Certificates of Origin are not part of the EU-UK trade agreement so there are no rules that state they are required when trading with the EU. However, if your EU importer requests a Certificate of Origin, these can be issued.  If an EU country specifically requests a Certificate of Origin, the non-preferential rule would be followed, which is the goods originated where the last substantial economically justified process takes place.

Certificates of Origin require certification from an accredited Chamber of Commerce to be valid. Business West’s Export Documentation team can help and are fully authorised to certify all documents needed to export to the EU.

For Preferential Origin, exporters will have to follow rules set out in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and the EU. This rule requires that a minimum percentage of the product must be proven to have originated in the UK or EU to avoid tariffs when being exported to or imported from the EU.The percentage of non-UK products permitted varies across items. For example, on dairy goods, you are allowed 20%.

Confusion in this area has arisen as under the new TCA exporters / importers thought they could import EU preferential origin goods into the UK then re-package them and sell them back out to the EU as preferential origin goods, meaning that their EU customers would not be charged import duty. However, this is not the case.

If EU preferential origin goods are imported into the UK, to enable them to be classed as preferential origin goods when being re-exported out to the EU the goods must be processed in the UK to enable them to be classed as UK preferential origin goods.

To get help with Rules of Origin you can contact 01275 774 958 to speak to a member of the team who will be able to answer any questions and get you ready for trading.

ATA Carnets were not previously required when trading with the EU, however firms transporting goods temporarily into EU countries or transferring them through the EU to non-EU or third countries, can now produce an ATA Carnet In order for goods to move duty free. You can check which countries accept ATA Carnets here.

Business West’s International Trade team provide a bespoke service including simplification of customs procedures and completion of all Carnet vouchers. Find out more here.

There are now certificates and special licenses you will need if you are exporting specific products. For example, if you are exporting live animals you will need an export health certificate and if you are exporting controlled drugs, you need a Home Office controlled drug license. For more information about the different licenses and certificates required visit

Firms can visit Business West’s web-advice platform,Trading through Brexit, to get up to date information on how to prepare for the post-Brexit changes to international trade.