Last updated: Friday 12 February

The UK’s transition from the European Union is now complete, and in late December a new trade agreement was announced. Uncertainty over some aspects of trading remains, but UK businesses should now be able to plan future arrangements with more certainty.

As it has been since the EU Referendum of 2016, the best protection against too much Brexit disruption is full visibility and proper understanding of all your publishing processes, and similarly transparent relationships with all of the third parties who help in the performance of your business.

This page provides resources for members in five of the key areas for publishers to consider: imports, exports, people, Intellectual Property and data.

Click the topic below to jump straight to the section.

General Advice

Imports

Exports

People

Intellectual Property

Data

Staying Updated

 

GENERAL ADVICE

The government has a gateway for businesses preparing for the new rules, with a lot of actionable information to help protect against too many unforeseen Brexit shocks. 

There is also a tool to outline the preparations that are relevant to your business and personal circumstances, identifying any that are particularly urgent.

The government has provided a series of 18 video explainers on various aspects of new trading practices, including imports, exports, tariffs, rules of origin, IP and data.

In February the government created a SME Brexit Support Fund to help small and medium sized businesses respond to new import and export requirements. Grants of up to £2,000 will pay for support including training and advice on customs processes and declarations. Submissions are not yet open, but basic information about the scheme is here.

Business Support Helplines are available for queries about doing business with countries in the EU. If you are based in England, the number is 0800 998 1098. In Scotland, call 0300 303 0660. In Wales, call 0300 060 3000. In Northern Ireland, call 0800 181 4422.

The IPG’s Croner Business Support Helpline is available for free and unlimited advice about impacts of Brexit on employment, legal and other matters. Do take advantage of this free service if you are unsure about anything; you will need to be logged in to view this page.

 

Imports

This is the starting point for advice about importing goods to Britain from countries in the European Union from January 2021. 

From January, businesses will need to make customs declarations when importing goods from the EU. Details of how to do this yourself are here, and guidance for getting others—like freight forwarders or customs agents—to do the job for you is here

Businesses that move goods into Britain from the EU will need an EORI number from January. All businesses should have been contacted by HMRC to arrange this, but you can obtain one easily here. If you already have an EORI but it does not start with GB, you will need to obtain a new one.

Books and most other print materials from publishers will continue to be zero rated for tariffs from January. However, some goods imported from countries without a trade agreement with the UK will be subject to new or increased tariffs. The government has details of how the UK Global Tariff works, and a search facility to show how it applies to various items.

There are some notable changes to the way VAT is applied on goods sold into the UK. They include a requirement for overseas sellers to collect and account for VAT on direct sales into the UK, and for online marketplaces to do the same if they facilitate the sales. Previous relief from import VAT on sales from non-EU countries worth less than £15 will also be removed. The government says this will help UK businesses to compete better with overseas sellers who have benefited from VAT-free imports in the past.

You may need to familiarise yourself with rules of origin, which establish the source of imported and exported goods and help to show where customs duty applies. Government guidance is here and a guide from the European Commission is here.

Specific guidance for moving goods from—or into or via—Northern Ireland is here. A Trader Support Service is available to help with changes in Northern Ireland. It can complete customs declarations for you, and has useful ‘how to’ guides, online training and webinars.

Commodity or customs codes on products in ONIX have caused some confusion, and EDItEUR has provided some useful guidance to common issues here. If your ONIX feeds are handled by a platform provider, they should be able to help you with any updates that are required.

The government has separate guidance about importing goods from outside the European Union.

HMRC has webinars explaining customs import declarations.

For specific enquiries about imports and customs, businesses can contact advisers via email, webchat or phone. Details are here.

These questions may help your preparations on imports.

  • Have your printers and other partners in the European Union and further afield made appropriate contingency plans for import challenges in 2021? 
  • Have you agreed future protocols and working relationships with third parties overseas—including schedules for deliveries and services as far ahead as you can? 
  • Does your business have a valid EORI?
  • Are you comfortable with the procedures around customs declarations?

 

Exports

This is the starting point for advice about exporting goods from Britain to countries in the European Union from January 2021, including a checklist of actions to consider. 

From January, businesses will need to make customs declarations when exporting goods to the EU. Details of how to do this yourself are here, and guidance for getting others—like freight forwarders or customs agents—to do the job for you is here

Rules on the exports of books from January will not change, though licences will be needed for some other goods. Customers can be charged VAT at 0%.

Businesses that export goods to the EU will need an EORI number from January. All businesses should have been contacted to arrange this, but you can obtain one easily here. If you already have an EORI but it does not start with GB, you will need to obtain a new one.

Export partners in EU countries will also need to be ready for changes from January, and be sure they can make any necessary import customs declarations.

Advice for accounting for VAT on services—including digital—from January is here.

If you are selling books to VAT-registered businesses in EU countries, paperwork should designate the customer as the importer. This means the customer is responsible for dealing with VAT issues. Distributors should handle the appropriate designation on your behalf; check with them if you have any doubt.

If you are selling books to non-VAT registered individuals in the EU, you may need to check the VAT rate on books in the relevant country. If any VAT is due in that country, you may choose to register for VAT there—though this is often impractical for businesses selling in small volumes, and you may wish to obtain specialist advice.

If you sell only small volumes of exports to the EU, many couriers and parcel operators can make customs declarations for you. The Royal Mail will provide self-declaration stickers for parcels if the value is below £900.

You may need to familiarise yourself with rules of origin, which establish the source of imported and exported goods and help to show where customs duty applies. Government guidance is here and a guide from the European Commission is here. There is a more practical guide to securing preferential tariffs, and a short video explainer about rules of origin. 

Specific guidance for moving goods into—or out of or via—Northern Ireland is here. A Trader Support Service is available to help with changes in Northern Ireland. It can complete customs declarations for you, and has useful ‘how to’ guides, online training and webinars.

The government has separate guidance about exporting goods to countries outside the European Union.

Commodity or customs codes on products in ONIX have caused some confusion, and EDItEUR has provided some useful guidance to common issues here. If your ONIX feeds are handled by a platform provider, they should be able to help you with any updates that are required. 

General advice about exporting is available from the Department for International Trade. Details of local trade offices are here, and you can make direct contact with advisers here

The SME Brexit Support Fund was set up to help small and medium sized businesses adjust to new export procedures. Grants of up to £2,000 will pay for support including training and advice on customs processes and declarations. Submissions are not yet open, but basic information about the scheme is here.

The DIT has run a series of webinars to help exporters prepare for transition-related changes. Details of forthcoming ones are here, and you can watch a previous webinar again here.  

For specific enquiries about exports and customs, businesses can contact advisers via email, webchat or phone. Details are here.

These questions may help your preparations on exports.

  • Have your distributors, sales vendors and third party agents in the European Union and further afield made appropriate contingency plans for export challenges in 2021? 
  • Have you agreed future protocols and working relationships with third parties overseas? 
  • Does your business have a valid EORI?
  • Are you comfortable with the procedures around customs declarations?

 

People

Citizens of EU countries need to apply to continue living in the UK from January. This checker tool assesses people’s situations.

Guidance for UK nationals living in the EU is here.

Travel to and within the EU may need more planning from January. In some countries, visas or permits may be required where previously they were not. There is a checklist of things to do and think about, and a searchable guide to the requirements of specific countries.

Travel that is specifically for business may be subject to extra requirements. General guidance is here and there are country-by-country guides. There is relevant advice about indemnity insurance for employees and temporarily taking goods out of the UK, including for trade fairs. 

For businesses hiring overseas staff, this short video explainer may be useful.

These questions may help your preparations on staffing and travel.

  • Are you certain of the nationality and (if appropriate) visa status of all of your employees? 
  • If you employ any staff based elsewhere in the EU, are you aware of any social security issues arising for them?
  • Are you and colleagues prepared for any changes to overseas travel in 2021?

 

Intellectual Property

There has been a lot of speculation about possible divergence of the UK copyright regime from that of the EU from January. The government has general guidance about how UK copyright law will change, though it is not legally binding advice. Details of specific changes to Intellectual Property and the Intellectual Property Office are here.

In practice, most UK-based IP will continue to be protected by international treaties on copyright, and copyright duration will not change. UK copyright law has been amended to update or remove references to copyright within the EU framework. Similarly, copyright of IP originating in EU countries will continue to be protected in the UK. The UK has indicated that it will not be implementing the recent EU Copyright Directive.

The government has specific guidance about access to copyright for visually impaired people and collective rights management from January.

This is a useful technical guide to aspects of IP rights from January.

This government webinar explains some of the IP-related aspects of the transition.

These questions may help your preparations on IP.

  • Are you clear on what IP you are responsible for, and can you prove it legally?
  • Are you aware of any territorial rights issues that might arise from January? 
  • When you contract with third parties outside the UK, like authors, do you do so under English laws or those of another jurisdiction?
  • Do your future contract templates need to be updated to reflect any changes?

 

Data

Businesses’ use of data is one of the most important aspects of the transition, especially if you receive, send or maintain the personal data of EU citizens, whether as authors, customers, suppliers or others.

The government has general guidance about changes relating to data from January. 

This short video explains some of the general issues for businesses handling data.

The EU is yet to announce the results of a data adequacy assessment of the UK. If the assessment is positive, data could continue to flow as normal from the EU to the UK. If it is not, action may be needed to keep personal data flowing, including via Standard Contractual Clauses. Guidance is here.

Personal data that flows out of the UK to EU countries can continue as normal. Guidance about data transfers to other countries is here

There is also extensive guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office. This includes advice about data protection tailored for small businesses, and a webinar aimed at small and medium businesses that need to maintain their flow of data. 

The ICO also has a helpful list of FAQs and a tool to help identify data issues to consider.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that was introduced in 2018 will be retained in UK law, with no changes to the obligations of businesses on this or other data protection standards.

 

Staying updated

The IPG will share Brexit-related developments and resources in our weekly ebulletin. If you are an IPG member and don’t yet receive the ebulletin, please get in touch and we will add you to our mailing list.

You can subscribe to Brexit-related ebulletins from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy here.

You can sign up to automatically receive emails about Brexit transition rules here, but be aware you may be inundated!

If there is a Brexit resource that you think others might find useful, or if you have a query that isn’t covered here, please email us.