The original EU exit date of 29 March 2019 came and went, and still nobody can say for sure what we can expect from Brexit.

At the time of writing, Prime Minister Theresa May has negotiated a further delay to the UK’s exit from the EU, until 31 October.

For businesses trying to plan for the future, the ongoing lack of certainty makes it incredibly difficult to make decisions on areas such as trade and investment.

In the first quarter of 2019, the Federation of Small Businesses reported that 9 in 10 businesses did not take on new staff, and only 27% planned to increase exports.

According to another study which was published in the journal Regional Studies, the single most worrying factor about Brexit for SMEs is uncertainty regarding future regulatory change (73.9%).

If you’re in the difficult position of making plans for your business over the next couple of years, here are some key areas to consider.

Trading with the EU

Provided the UK leaves the EU with a deal, there would be a transition period until December 2020 at the earliest, with the option to stretch as late as 2022, allowing time to negotiate future trade arrangements.

If there is no deal by the deadline, it’s expected that trade will immediately revert to World Trade Organisation rules, meaning goods would be subject to customs checks and tariffs.

The Government has provided businesses that trade with the EU with instructions on the customs procedures they would need to comply with.

It has also said there will be relaxed custom checks for imports of goods to the UK, but this doesn’t guarantee the same treatment for exports to the EU.

Personal data

Since 25 May 2018, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in force, which has affected the way businesses hold and process personal data.

While this is an EU regulation, there would be no immediate change to UK data protection in the event of a no-deal.

GDPR would be brought into UK law, so businesses will still need to make sure they are compliant. However, there would be some changes to the way data is shared from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has set out six steps businesses can take to prepare.

Intellectual property

The Government has assured businesses it will continue to protect intellectual property, such as copyright, patents, designs and trademarks, after the UK leaves the EU.

However, in a no-deal scenario, there may be restrictions on the parallel import of goods from the UK to the EEA, and businesses might need to get permission to do so.

Detailed government guidance on this topic has been published here.

Get in touch

Careful planning is essential to manage the upcoming changes, and any financial impacts they might have.

We can help you to prepare for Brexit, while continuing to support you in achieving your business goals. Contact us to find out how we can help.