What Brexit means for Swiss exporters

An agreement was reached between the EU and the UK. What does it mean for Swiss SMEs? If you have any operational questions, please contact us via exporthelp@s-ge.com so that we can provide you with precise assistance.

Clarifying opportunities and risks

Would you like to clarify your individual risks and opportunities in the British market? Our ExportHelp-team is at your disposal at all times.

Trade Agreement

Trade Agreement

Agreement on mobility of service suppliers

The Federal Council approved on 4 December 2020 an agreement between Switzerland and the UK on the mobility of service suppliers. The agreement provides reciprocal, facilitated market access for service suppliers to close a looming gap after the agreement on the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK) will cease to apply as of 1 January 2021. The conclusion of this agreement is part of the Federal Council's "mind-the-gap" strategy following the UK’s exit from the EU. 

Switzerland and the UK sign trade agreement valid from January 2021

Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and the British Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, have signed a bilateral trade agreement in Bern on 11 February. The agreement ensures the continuation of the economic and commercial rights and obligations arising from the agreements between Switzerland and the European Union (EU). It lays the foundations for the two parties to continue their sound economic and trade relations once the United Kingdom has left the EU. The new agreement was concluded as part of the Federal Council’s ‘Mind the Gap’ strategy. It replicates the vast majority of the trade agreements with the EU that currently govern relations between Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

As part of its ‘Mind the Gap’ strategy, the Federal Council wishes to ensure that the existing mutual rights and obligations in its relationship with the UK will continue to apply as far as possible after the UK leaves the EU, and to expand them in certain areas. With this in mind Switzerland and the UK have already signed agreements on road transport, air transport and insurance. In December 2018 the Federal Council adopted an agreement on citizens’ rights with the United Kingdom.

Agreement covers Liechtenstein as well

An additional agreement between Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the Principality of Liechtenstein to extend the relevant provisions of the trade agreement to the territory of Liechtenstein under the Swiss-Liechtenstein Customs Union was also signed on 11 February 2019.

Agreement between EU and UK: What it means for Swiss exporters

An agreement was reached between the EU and the UK. What does it mean for Swiss SMEs? If you have any operational questions, please contact us via exporthelp@s-ge.com so that we can provide you with precise assistance.

Customs Issues

Customs Issues

This step-by-step guide from the British government shows what needs to be taken into account when importing goods for UK companies.

 

What conditions must be met for a DDP delivery to the UK?
If you are shipping DDP to the UK, in addition to the EORI number you will also need a GB-VAT number and an indirect representative for import customs clearance.

What are the rates of duty applicable after the withdrawal? 
The standard UK tariffs for non-preferential goods, which will apply from 1 January 2021, can be found on the UK government's website here

A comprehensive overview of all tariff rates on agricultural products agreed between Switzerland and the United Kingdom can be found in the trade agreement starting on page 55. For industrial products, the exemption from customs duties, which is contractually agreed with the EU, will continue to apply in trade with the UK.

With which input materials may an origin cumulation be carried out?

The trade agreement between Switzerland and the UK provides for the possibility of cumulation of originating products of other Parties to the PEM Convention. Provided that the contracting party has a free trade agreement with CH and the UK and that this agreement contains identical rules of origin.

Switzerland and the UK will create the possibility to cumulate input materials from the EU and Turkey as of 9 June 2021, provided that they have obtained origin based on rules of origin identical to those of the CH-UK agreement. However, a subsequent application for preference for goods already delivered is not possible.

In what form must a proof of origin be issued?

Valid proofs of origin are the movement certificate EUR 1 or EURO-Med as well as the declaration of origin on the invoice up to a value of CHF 10,300. Authorized exporters can continue to issue declarations of origin on the invoice regardless of the amount.

The proof of origin on the invoice shall be the declarations of origin type A (EUR 1) and type Aa (EUR-Med):

Type A: The exporter (approved exporter; authorisation No .........) of the goods to which this commercial document relates declares that these goods are, unless otherwise specified, eligible for preferential ......... are originating products.

Type Aa: The exporter (approved exporter; authorisation No .........) of the goods to which this commercial document relates declares that these goods are, unless otherwise specified, eligible for preferential ......... are originating products.

- cumulation apllied with

- no cumulation applied

We have a warehouse in the EU. What needs to be considered at this point for deliveries to the UK?
You will have to export from the EU and then import into the UK. Especially important: For exports from the EU, the exporter under customs law must be based in the EU.

Goods of Swiss origin that have been definitively imported into the EU and that are stored there, will lose their preferential origin as of January 1, 2021, in accordance with the CH-UK trade agreement. However, if unprocessed goods are delivered back to Switzerland, and then re-exported from there to the UK, they will still have preferential status. Goods stored in a bonded warehouse, however, will retain their stated origin, and can be shipped directly to the UK.

What does brexit mean for customs and transport handling?
Goods that are still in transit when the transition period ends will continue to be considered as preferential goods, provided that a movement certificate from the exporting country is retrospectively issued within 12 months.

Who needs a GB-EORI number?
Anyone involved in a customs declaration for import or export in the UK requires an EORI number as before. From 1 January 2021 on, it must begin with GB; EORI numbers from EU member states are no longer accepted. Further information on the GB-EORI number and how to apply for it can be found here.

Can shipments to the UK still be processed via EU customs clearance?

EU customs clearance is now only possible for deliveries to Northern Ireland, as Northern Ireland remains part of the EU single market.

UK regulators

UK regulators

UK REACH
After the end of the transitional period, the EU REACH registration will no longer apply for sales of chemicals to the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland). It will be replaced by UK REACH. Only UK company registrations will be transferred to UK REACH automatically; all other registrations will have to be resubmitted. UK importers are obliged to ensure registration on import. For this purpose, a “Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN)" must be applied for via the competent authority, after which registration must take place. Depending on the substances’ quantity and hazard profile, registration must be completed within 2, 4 or 6 years. Further information is available here.

Food labeling
Likewise, after following the withdrawal from the EU, the EU  labeling rules for foodstuffs will no longer apply for deliveries to the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland). 

For information on food labeling requirements, click here.

A "UK responsible person" is required to distribute the food in the UK. This can be, for example, the importer or the distributor.

If the products are organic, additional import and labelling regulations must be observed. Information on the import regulations for organic products can be found here and information on labelling here.

UKCA

For goods placed on the UK market before 1 January 2021 the CE marking does not need to be replaced.

At the end of the transitional period, the CE conformity marking will be replaced in the UK by the UKCA. For most products, CE marking will be accepted until 1 January 2022 and for medical devices until 1 January 2023. Provided that there is no adjustment to the relevant EU regulations and thus a deviation from the UK regulations.

A "UK Responsible Person" or a "UK Authorised Representative" is required for the UKCA. This can be, for example, the importer or the distributor.

For deliveries to Northern Ireland a CE marking is still required.

Further information on the application and the transition periods can be found here.

Shipping from the EU

Shipping from the EU

In order to give companies more time to adapt to the new conditions for importing goods, the introduction will take place in stages up until January 1, 2022. The measures are to be introduced irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations on future relations, which means they are to enter into force even if both parties agree on a free trade agreement. They will only apply to imports from the EU.

The measures differ according to the product category

From January 2021:

  • Advance declarations (entry summary declarations/safety and security declarations) will be waived for a period of six months for all goods.  
  • For most goods, complete import declarations can be lodged retrospectively for a period of up to six months.
  • If customs duties must be paid, there is the possibility of deferring payment. Payment is due on the date on which the complete import declaration is lodged.
  • For goods subject to authorization or monitoring, a complete import declaration is required at the time of import. These include tobacco, alcohol or toxic chemicals, for example. The import requirements for goods from third countries will start applying to these products on January 1, 2021.
  • For live animals and high-risk plants and plant products, advance notification and health certificates are required. Although document checks will be used, they will not be carried out on the spot during the actual import. Physical checks for high-risk goods will be carried out at the place of destination of the goods or at some other authorized place of reception.

From October 1, 2021 (old date April 1, 2021):

  • For all goods of animal origin, such as meat, honey or dairy products, and for all plants and plant products, advance declarations and health certificates will be required.

From January 1, 2022 (old date July 1, 2021):

  • From this date, the simplified rules will no longer apply. Complete import declarations must then be lodged at the time of import.
  • Advance declarations (entry summary declarations/safety and security declarations) will become mandatory for all imports.
  • Physical checks and sampling of SPS goods will be increased. The checks will take place at the UK border inspection posts.

We have a warehouse in the EU. What needs to be considered at this point for deliveries to the UK?
You will have to export from the EU and then import into the UK. Especially important: For exports from the EU, the exporter under customs law must be based in the EU.

The EU-UK agreement does not provide for movement certificates (e.g. WVB EUR 1). The declaration of origin shall be made out on the invoice. For consignments with a value of more than EURO 6,000.00, the REX number of the customs exporter must also be indicated.

Goods of Swiss origin that have been definitively imported into the EU and that are stored there, will lose their preferential origin as of January 1, 2021, in accordance with the CH-UK trade agreement. However, if unprocessed goods are delivered back to Switzerland, and then re-exported from there to the UK, they will still have preferential status. Goods stored in a bonded warehouse, however, will retain their stated origin, and can be shipped directly to the UK.

Secondment

Secondment

The Services Mobility Agreement (SMA) between Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) regulates the mutual access and temporary stay of service suppliers, for example of management consultants, IT experts or engineers from January 1, 2021. On the UK side, market opening vis-à-vis Switzerland is achieved through market access commitments in over 30 services sectors. In addition, the UK grants Swiss service suppliers further preferential treatment. For example, Swiss service suppliers are not subject to an economic needs test for access to these sectors in the UK and are not required to provide evidence of knowledge of English. Service suppliers from Switzerland can stay in the UK up to 12 months in any 24 month period. With these conditions, the SMA will continue to allow Swiss companies extensive market access in the UK for contract-based service provision by natural persons.

Market access to the UK under the SMA is currently limited to persons with qualifications at university or equivalent level. However, the UK undertakes, through an exchange of notes, to reassess the equivalence of Swiss vocational education and training qualifications.

The SMA is initially limited to two years. However, the contracting parties may jointly decide to extend the duration. The agreement will be applied provisionally from January 1, 2021.

There are a variety of visas for accessing the UK; the “Temporary Worker - International Agreement Visa (Tier 5)” or the “Standard Visitor Visa”. For certain business activities lasting up to 6 months, no visa is required:

  • Under the SMA, a “Temporary Worker - International Agreement Visa (Tier 5)” is required for access as a “Contractual Service Supplier” or “Independent Professional”. You can find information on the topic here.
  • For certain business activities, a “Standard Visitor Visa” is sufficient. You can find out which activities this applies to here.
  • For certain business activities, no visa is required. You can find out which activities this applies to here.

At gov.uk, a “Check if you need a Visa tool is available for this purpose.

Downloads and Links

Are you ready? Our checklist can help you

Following the transitional period, the United Kingdom (UK) will official leave the European Customs Union on January 1, 2021. This checklist is intended to help you as a Swiss exporter to check whether you and your shipments are prepared for the changes.

Download checklist

Links and targeted information provided by SECO

Other downloads and Links

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