Author Archives: British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium

By Yasmine Lingemann

On the 1st of July 2021, EU VAT rules are changing. It’s affecting all businesses, but mainly B2C e-commerce sellers as well as online marketplaces based inside and outside EU that facilitate the sale of goods to customers in the EU.

Here at the British Chamber of Commerce EU & Belgium, we’ve got you covered. If you’re interested in learning more about the changes to VAT in the EU, why not come along to our free upcoming event on the 29th June: EU VAT Rules for E-Commerce: What’s Changing on 1st July? Member VAT experts will answer the following questions with practical case example explanations and advice:

What changes on July 1st?
What transactions are impacted by the changes?
Who is affected?
How will these upcoming EU VAT changes impact me and my business?

For businesses outside the EU that are trading to EU based consumers, there are 3 main changes:

  1. VAT exemptions on low-value goods removed
    VAT exemptions on low-value goods (worth €22 euros or less) coming into the EU will be removed. VAT will now be charged on all commercial goods imported into the EU regardless of their value. For goods that are imported into the EU, VAT will apply at the rate set in the buyer’s country. For consignments with a value of €150 or below, this can either be charged at the time of the sale by using the new IOSS- Import One Stop Shop- or be collected by the customer’s declarant.
  2. An IOSS will be introduced
    An IOSS, Import One-Stop-Shop for a single EU-VAT return will be introduced. Businesses signed up to the OSS will no longer have to register for VAT in every EU country. Instead, they can reduce their admin by logging all their eligible cross-border EU sales to consumers in a single electronic quarterly return. IOSS users will only need to pay the VAT to their home Tax authority. This will then forward it to the countries where the goods were sold. Those (based in one member’s state) making below €10,000 per year on cross-border sales of goods to consumers can charge their domestic VAT rate and report the sales as part of their regular domestic VAT return. 
  3. VAT will be the e-commerce marketplaces responsibility
    Rather than the seller, certain marketplaces like e-commerce sites will become liable for collecting, reporting, and paying VAT at the time of sale. This includes B2C imports of consignments up to €150 (when IOSS is used) and on intra-EU and domestic sales of goods by non-EU sellers to EU consumers. As a result, for B2C imports of consignments, with a value of €150 or less where the marketplace has opted in for the IOSS, businesses selling through it must use the marketplaces IOSS number and provide it for the party responsible for making the customs declaration. Non-EU businesses using online marketplaces only for this infra-EU and domestic sale of goods to consumers within the EU might be able to de-register for VAT in EU member states. 

What is the IOSS Regime?
IOSS “import one-stop shop” is a new voluntary system for reporting and collecting VAT on B2C sales of low-value goods imported from non-EU countries. Suppliers and online marketplaces selling imported goods to EU buyers can use IOSS to collect, declare and remit VAT to the tax authorities, instead of making the buyer pay the VAT at the point of importation.

IOSS will:

  • Simplify customs clearance and import procedures for “low-value goods”. 
  • Increase transparency for customers
  • Reduce administrative burdens with one registration for all sales. 
  • Increase the speed of goods being cleared through customs.
  • Simplify logistics, as goods can be imported into the EU via any EU Member State regardless of their final destination.

How to apply?

  • IOSS registrations opened on April 1st for all EU member states.
  • If you are seller not based in the EU, you will need to appoint an EU intermediary to meet the seller’s VAT obligations under OSS.

Read more about these changes on our UK-EU Trade Hub here. We’re here to help you navigate through these changes as smoothly as possible, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for further information.

We will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you:

By Yasmine Lingemann

If it weren’t for Covid-19, this past year would have been very different for me. I would have been able to go on my year abroad (as part of my University course requirement), improve my French, work for the British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium in person, and live in a new city. Instead, our team of 6 interns is working entirely online 9am-6pm every weekday, we have not been able to meet anyone in the team, and we are persevering through what is a very different year to what we had signed up for. As students, this is the time for us to be delving deep into any opportunities we can find, making as many connections as possible to better our chances once we enter the increasingly competitive job market after graduation. That being said, Covid-19 was the inspiration for Brussels New Generation to set up the mentoring scheme, which has ended up being one of our proudest accomplishments to date.

Very early on in the pandemic, as a group of young professionals, we could see how badly it would hit the younger generation. It was clear that many would lose out on invaluable experiences and opportunities, it would be harder to find a job and gain qualifications, especially whilst managing the financial pressures of starting an independent life as a young person. Even if, like myself and the team of interns I work with, you have managed to secure a placement, the requirements and restrictions that Covid-19 forces us to abide by are arguably most impactful to the younger generation. This is why setting up the mentoring scheme was so important to us. We wanted to use our platform to connect our network and provide a space for our community to support one another. The British Chamber of Commerce has a plethora of contacts, people who have been in our position and are eager to share their knowledge and expertise, so we decided to step in and bridge the Chamber with our network of young professionals.

This month marks the first anniversary of our mentoring scheme. We are so proud to announce that we have surpassed our goal of 100 participants in the scheme, and continue to grow as more mentors and mentees join our programme. My team and I have worked so hard to match our mentors and mentees as thoughtfully as possible, and it has been a great pleasure to see how each mentoring relationship has grown and thrived. We are thrilled with the feedback we have received, with one member saying our programme is:

‘A fantastic way to expand your network, learn from someone who’s more experienced in the Brussels Bubble, and participate in reflective conversations to consciously develop your career.’

It is comments like this that keep us going and make us proud of the wonderful team and community we are so lucky to work with.

We would like to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. This pandemic has been so challenging for us all, and to think that we could somewhat support our community and watch how vivaciously and admirably you have all thrived throughout this period, is an absolute honour. Our team would like to thank you all for the support you have shown us, whether through attending or promoting our events, or spreading the word about our Committee- every little helps, and together, we have a lot to be proud of!

It is for this reason that, with great pride and joy, we would like to invite you to celebrate our Mentoring Scheme anniversary with us. Whether you’re already part of the Mentoring scheme, or still yet to get involved, please join us in our celebrations!

We will kick the event off by introducing you all to the core group, followed by a fun and interactive quiz to test your knowledge on current affairs and the Brussels Bubble. The event will end with a networking & drinks session, to give you the opportunity to meet those on the scheme you may not have had a chance to yet connect with.

We can’t wait for you to join us in celebration of this milestone, and promise a night that will be as close to a night out in Brussels as possible!

We look forward to celebrating with you! Register here to guarantee your spot👇 :

If you haven’t already, sign up for the Mentoring Scheme where we connect trainees and entry-level professionals with other young, but more experienced professionals here! :👉

By Louise Holton

Data adequacy refers to a status issued by the European Commission when a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) provides equivalent measures of personal data protection to those in European Law.

On 19 February 2021, the European Commission released a draft adequacy decision for data flows between the EU and UK, meaning the UK provides an adequate level of personal data protection to its EU subjects. Once this draft decision has been reviewed by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and individual EU Member States, the continuation of free-flowing data between the EU and UK will be enabled. A bridging mechanism was agreed until 30th June 2021, where data can continue to flow freely between the UK and EU, while the EU work through institutional requirements to agree on this adequacy agreement.

The UK already granted the EEA adequacy in 2020, enabling personal data to flow from the UK to the EU as usual. As well as this, third countries with existing data adequacy decisions granted by the EU, such as Japan, Canada and New Zealand, will also roll over and be considered as adequate by the UK.

What does this mean for my business?

Businesses are creating more data than ever before. We are increasingly reliant on data to better understand global consumers, improve processes and maximise efficiency. Transferring this data across borders is vital for all sectors of the economy, whether that be financial services, manufacturing or pharmaceuticals.


Joe Jones – Head of Data Adequacy, DCMS

This adequacy decision will benefit businesses who regularly transfer data, including the personal data of customers from the EEA to the UK. Even though this draft decision already gives businesses further affirmation that data can continue to flow-freely, businesses still face many uncertainties and should implement the necessary mechanisms to ensure data flows go undisrupted.

How can my business protect its data flows?

Businesses should evaluate the risks associated with their current data flows and put alternative mechanisms in place, to reduce their reliance on adequacy. EU approved standard contractual clauses (SCC’s), intra-company transfers and binding corporate rules (BCR’s) are alternative mechanisms businesses should implement when trading between the EU and third-party countries. These mechanisms come with legal and administrative costs for businesses, but they will ensure legal and safe personal data transfers can continue, without relying on adequacy.

If your business offers goods and services, processes data or targets consumers in both the EU and UK, you will be subject to both EU and UK GDPR. For example, SCC’s are currently being reviewed as a mechanism to enable data flows to third countries without an adequacy agreement. As the UK adopted the existing SCC’s, businesses should keep up to date on these reviewed safeguards.

Closely monitor announcements from the TCA Partnership Council and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), in case the UK also decide to adopt any reviewed safeguards from the EU.

Consider appointing a UK or EU representative to handle oversees customers, authorities and GDPR compliance. A representative is not a blanket requirement for all businesses. They primarily benefit those who process large amounts of data in the EU or UK, or process special categories of data and have no office space in the EU or UK.

Determine where your Lead Supervisory Authority (LSA) will be situated. Choosing an LSA can significantly reduce administrative burdens for businesses operating in multiple locations. This ultimately means you deal with one Supervisory Authority (in one country) by assigning a LSA in that country to handle GDPR compliance matters, rather than dealing with a Supervisory Authority in every country you operate in.


Data is a fundamental element of our daily lives in how we connect and conduct business operations, to provide services and coordinate complex supply chains. Data that is analysed in-depth, can stand at the core of any successful business and stimulate economic growth. The rise of social media, digital communications, the boom of e-commerce and digital enterprises are generating invaluable data to promote global innovation and value creation. Data must be widely available, easily accessible and manageable, to encourage the development of products and services. The internet is based on the principle of the free-flowing data. It eliminated barriers, made the world a smaller place and created this concept of a global village. The internet is free and fair, two components driving openness in our modern business practices and globalised society.

As the volume, power and economic value of data continues to grow, so have the risks and uncertainties surrounding e-privacy and cyber-security. When personal data is transferred outside of one’s home country, citizens feel this loss of control over how and where their data is being used. Similarly, governments seek to control information flows to their citizens, protect the rights of users and foreign surveillance and access data for law enforcement and national security purposes.

The Data Localisation Movement

The growing inward orientation of countries has resulted in more governments introducing new laws to reinstate digital barriers and reverse the inter-connectivity of our globalised society. 

“Data localisation refers to the restriction of data to the territorial boundaries of one county or jurisdiction” 

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 

This poses significant challenges to cross-border data flows and the digital economy; however, the growth in the movement stems from a variety of motivating factors, from mitigating cyber-crime and generating geo-political advantages to economic competition advantages. Similarly, to goods and services, data as a national resource could move in- and out of nations and become taxable, generating new revenue streams for countries.

Data localising close to home

The data localisation movement is prominent within authoritarian countries such as Egypt, Iran and North Korea but is also expanding to countries such as Australia, Canada and even closer to home, within the European Union itself. The EU’s new data governance rules reflects their intention to create nine data spaces, where sensitive data on industry, energy and healthcare are stored in the EU to the benefit of local businesses. 

 “Our regulation will help Europe become the world’s number one data continent

Thierry Breton – EU Internal Market Commissioner

This movement poses threats for the EU’s international trading partners, as local European businesses take advantage of internal data stored in government-operated servers, while foreign competitors face cost and regulatory burdens in accessing local data servers.

What does this mean for UK-EU trade?

In the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the EU and UK agree to avoid restricting cross border data flows, with data localisation specifically listed as a restriction to data flows. Businesses involved in EU-UK trade can be reassured by the high-quality data protection regime and digital agenda that the UK intends to implement. Not only will this promote growth and innovation within the UK and the EU, but it will encourage the continued use of cross-border data flows to support the global economy as modern businesses become increasingly digitised and data-enabled.

Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

By Lizzie Gull

As the world struggles with the pandemic, for some women it has intensified biases that have long existed under the surface. With schools being shut along with the announcement that children at home should not be cared for by grandparents or other vulnerable adults, a backward development in partnerships was felt, with the responsibility for managing children and their education at home mainly falling to mothers, pushing both men and women back into more traditional roles.  

While a study done by Jim Reid (2020) found that some aspects of lockdown were enjoyable, such as more family time and not having to travel to work or taxi children around, it was also shown that the experience of lockdown had a large physical and mental toll, especially for women. An ONS (2020) survey highlighted that, of parents who were home schooling, one in three women agreed that it was negatively affecting their well-being compared with one in five men. Following on from that, many were faced with the choice of struggling to manage a triple shift of paid work, housework and emotional work, or reduce their hours which may result in a loss of progress that they had made in their careers.

For those that experienced this heightened triple shift new biases emerged, as explained in a recent McKinsey study (Women in the Workplace, 2020). One example of these new biases is the fact that the perceptions of women may change when their young children are seen in the background of virtual meetings, potentially fuelling a subconscious assumption from co-workers that these women are distracted and so less committed to their jobs. This is especially significant in performance reviews which may become biased, especially given that working from home lowers the visibility that managers may have into employee’s day-to-day work.

Balanced with the fact that working from home has made many employees feel like they are always on, as it is now harder to make distinctions between work and home, Covid, and the unrelenting pressure on parents to home school their children whilst also working, could force many mothers temporarily out of the workforce. In fact, according to the Women in the Workplace study, one in three mothers have considered career breaks or lowering their job title due to Covid. This could have significant social consequences, with less diverse workplaces which would lead to a lack of role models for women at all levels, and less women in senior positions able to mentor and sponsor other women.

Whilst many of us are now starting to see the light at the end of a very long tunnel in terms of the Covid crisis coming to an end, a survey done by Eurofound (2020) showed that in July 2020 over a third of employed respondents reported working exclusively from home.  Considering that prior to Covid just 15% of those employed in the EU had ever teleworked (European Commission, 2020), the challenges faced by those dealing with the sudden shift to telework were to be expected.

However, as this is starting to become the new normal, with many companies looking at continuing working from home more often than they did before the pandemic, there is now a need for organisations to do what they can to deal with these challenges in a way that ensures equality in the workplace, and retain the employees most affected by today’s crises.

To an extent, this is already being done, as many organisations have taken positive steps to support their employees during the pandemic, keeping them informed on how to access furlough schemes, providing resources to aid remote work, and expanding mental health services.

Fewer companies have taken steps to adjust the productivity and performance expectations set pre-Covid which may now be unrealistic. These steps may involve re-establishing work–life boundaries, for instance, by putting policies in place for responding to emails outside normal work hours. Whilst the measures that a company will be able to take will depend on its size and financial situation, the most critical factor which most companies should be in a position to address is open and frequent communicationso that everybody in the company feels valued and able to voice their issues if they feel they are struggling to cope in the workplace due to the added challenges of the pandemic.

Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you:

By Yasmine Lingemann

In light of International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated annually on March 8th, there is no better time to honour the achievements of women. As women continue to be underestimated, their drive to surpass expectations is fuelled. Hope and inspiration are ignited by female leaders who, against all odds, have changed the world. Phenomenal females who we greatly admire and who have been recognised under the international spotlight include Christine Lagarde, Jacinda Ardern, Margeret Thatcher, Kamala Harris, Helena Dalli, Michelle Obama, and Ursula von der Leyen. Young women are at last able to see a glimmer of hope that one day they could achieve like them. However, we wanted to dedicate this space to showcase women who are not given as much spotlight as other great women, and to give examples of women who are just as impressive but not yet as acknowledged:    

LITERATURE: Amanda Gorman, youngest poet, and first black female poet, to perform at a presidential inauguration.
TRADE: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, first female, and first African head of World Trade Organisation.
TECH: Blanca Treviño, Founder and President of Sofftek, and ranked by Forbes magazine as “one of the 10 most powerful women in Mexico”.
LAW: Gloria Allred, Attorney who (amongst many other respectable achievements) filed the first lawsuit in California – pro bono – challenging the denial of same-sex marriage, and won the case, transforming the landscape for LGBTQ+ rights in America.
POLITICS: Sophie Wilmès, first female Prime Minister of Belgium.
BUSINESS: Gita Gopinath, first woman Chief Economist of the IMF.
AEROSPACE: Helen Sharman, first British astronaut in space and first Western woman in space.
MEDICINE: Shi Zhengli, virologist who discovered that Covid-19  belongs to the same family of viruses as SARS, and played a major role in finding the origin of the virus- leading to ground-breaking and life-saving research.
SPORT: Arunima Sinha, first female amputee to climb Mount Everest, as well as 6 other mountains. A motivational speaker, 7 time volleyball player, and winner of the Malala award and First Lady award, amongst many others.

This not only a celebration, but a moment to pause and critically reflect on why over half of the world’s population continues to be underrepresented because of their sex. Even in female-dominated industries such as healthcare, where women make up 77% of the NHS, only 47% of those in senior management positions are female. IWD is about recognising that there remains a huge disparity in how men and women are paid, even when all compensable factors are controlled. That although 60% of graduates in the EU are women, only 8% of the EU’s largest companies have female CEOs, according to the European Commission. It’s about acknowledging that six in ten women in the EU have experienced sexist treatment or suffered sexual assault in the workplace. It is about calling for systemic and social change and fighting for it until we no longer need an International Women’s Day.

The good news is that women are now making up more than a third of top jobs at the UK’s 350’s largest firms. The number of women on boards has risen 50% from 682 to 1,026 in five years- figures released by the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review, which was launched in 2016 to encourage UK-listed companies to appoint more senior women. It said they showed “a dramatic shift in representation at the very highest levels of British business”. Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “FTSE companies have made incredible progress in recent years, but we cannot become complacent in building a society where everyone has an opportunity to get on and succeed. Our collective efforts to truly eradicate those barriers and create an inclusive leadership culture doesn’t stop here, this is where it intensifies.” We are also very proud to see that as of October 2020, Belgium’s new federal government, led by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, has ten male and ten female members. This 50/50 balance is something we hope other countries (and companies) will follow, so that women are fairly represented and rightfully leading in all walks of life.

Gender equality does not only benefit women. Achieving goals such as equal pay allows companies to attract the best talents for a job, and improves motivation, efficiency and overall productivity at the workplace. A study done by Credit Suisse proved that working in a teams of equal parts both powerful women and men evokes a more global and holistic perspective, better organisational performance, and greater innovation. A diversity of talent leads to a broader range of skills amongst employees, as well as a diversity of experiences and perspectives which increases the potential for increased productivity, too. 

This IWD the strap line is ‘Choose to Challenge’. So, what do you choose to challenge? We do not need to tell you that men and women should be treated equally, or to convince you that there is a problem. We ask our readers to act- and we promise to act too. Whether you’re a man or a woman, ‘choose to challenge’ when you feel something isn’t right. With privilege comes power, and there are so many ways you can use that power for good: speak up and call out sexism and misogyny amongst your peers, stand up for and champion women and men equally, hire and promote women that are best for a role, and create an environment that encourages women and men to succeed together, not compete against one another.  

We are proud to say that our team is made up of more women than men, because they were the best people for their roles. But it does not end there- we have a diversity & inclusion team here that makes sure we are prioritising the promotion of diversity and inclusion to better serve the needs of our members, employees, and key stakeholders. We encourage women who have insight into EU politics and business to get in contact with us, join our network, and speak at our events- we would love to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to also let us know if you would also like to get involved with our committee, and stand with us in the fight for equality, diversity and justice. 

Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you:

By Euan Carey

There’s only a week to go until our virtual trip to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. We absolutely cannot wait to show you what we have in store. Grab a drink, get comfy – this is going to be the best trip to Strasbourg you’ve never had!

As you enter Strasbourg (virtually!) you will be able to enjoy all that the Chamber has to offer over these two days. We have a fantastic programme on offer. Each session deals with important areas of the European Parliament’s work and is sure to benefit you and your organisation.

Your trip to Strasbourg begins with a look at the EU’s Digital Agenda, an area that has seen a lot of discussion recently. MEPs such as Axel Voss, Damian Boesalager, and Brando Benifei will be taking you through the EU Parliament’s work on the Digital Agenda. They will, of course, be available to answer any questions that you have!

After leaving the session on the EU’s Digital Agenda, take a wander over to our breakout rooms on the priorities of the various EU Parliament Committees. You can choose between the priorities of the ECON, IMCO, ITRE, and TRAN committees, each with their own MEP to take you through the current thinking of their respective committee. You can, of course, walk between the various rooms and take in the various sights in each one.

Once our breakout sessions have finished, you can enjoy our final session of the day. Walk over to our final session room and enjoy our event on the European Green Deal, a massively important topic considering the priorities of the current commission. You will be able to meet some of the MEPs championing this major issue, ask them questions, and discuss any relevant issues with them.

With the sessions over, you can enjoy some additional fun activities! Look at the exhibition spaces where you can network with other member companies, as well as our streaming of the committee meetings! Finally, enjoy some networking and fun with Chamber members.

With that, day one finishes! Get yourself some rest and prepare for a fantastic day two of Strasbourg!

Unfortunately, on day two, we will have to depart Strasbourg, but before you go, we will be able to leave you with one final fantastic session. This session will be on Future EU-UK relations, a must for any business dealing with the impact of the agreement. We will be welcoming David McAllister, Emmanuel Maurel, and many other MEPs for this session! All the MEPs will be happy to deal with any questions that you may have.

As we wave you goodbye from Strasbourg, and as you digest all the information you have gained, we will make sure that you have access to our event reports which will detail anything that you might have missed! We will also be able to provide you with any slides that are used by the MEPs, as well as pass on any final questions that you have onto them!

We hope that we have set the scene for you and convinced you to register for this fantastic and ambitious event. We are at your disposal if you have any questions, and the Chamber hopes that you choose to join us next week for this innovative event!

Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you:

By Yasmine Lingemann

Supply chains, the network between a company and its suppliers to produce and distribute a specific product to the final buyer, are being threatened by Brexit, Covid-19, and Government actions. When one step of the supply chain fails, we all fail. Modern manufacturing depends heavily on fast supply chains offering ‘just in time’ delivery of components, often across multiple borders. The Brexit deal agreed on December 24, just one week before it came into force, left little time for companies to adapt. Many manufacturers are still dealing with rebuilding their supply chains following the impact of Covid-19, and should now also consider how to adapt and change to reflect the new trading relationship between the EU and the UK, whilst also collaborating closely with supply chains to ensure there are minimal setbacks. It is vital that Governments do all it takes to keep supply chains open and running smoothly, before everyone ends up losing out.

The global landscape for supply chains has seen better days. Setbacks faced by many supply chains have impacted our world economy. Fishmongers in France state that their supply chain has been set back by 30 years. A global push for carbon neutrality twinned with the effects of Brexit and the pandemic has caused the worst year for UK car manufacturing since 1943, according to the UK’s Auto Industry trade group. Long queues at the borders are not only adding considerably to business expenses, but perishable goods are being thrown away and supermarkets such as M&S in France are seeing empty shelves. M&S spokesman confirmed the lack of groceries was a result of ‘Brexit teething problems’ disrupting supply chains, with lorries trying to cross the Channel being held up for days and thousands of pounds of produce being thrown away. Having no cumulative rules of origin, as well as EU bans on a variety of UK products such as shellfish, have made matters even tougher. The need under Brexit to revamp supply chains to comply with local content rules, the requirement for fresh export certificates and the uncertainties of delayed parts imports are just some of the other barriers now facing manufacturers with UK sites.

The government should consider how emerging/digital technologies, can deliver improved supply chain management and efficiency. Ensuring a smoother transaction of goods at the borders should be prioritised: more workers should be hired to deal with the greater volume of issues, and documentation should be digitalised where possible. We encourage the government to continue to survey the situation at the borders, and to not rule out the possibility of negotiating better terms so that traders on both sides of the channel, as well as the rest of the world, are able to trade more freely. Government support where supply chains are at risk of breaking is needed, especially considering the global pandemic we are in. Supplies of PPE, vaccines, and other essentials, in particular, need to continue to stay open.

The global economy is already under a lot of pressure, now is the time to support one another and ask for help where needed.

If you and your company are affected by anything addressed in this article, our Business, Trade and Investment (BTI) Committee provides a platform for trade facilitation, business networking and knowledge sharing, and to harness and foster expertise. For more information, please click here to see how we can help you.

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Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you:

By Yasmine Lingemann

What to Expect?

The Programme:


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Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you:

By Yasmine Lingemann


  • VAT will now be collected at the point of sale instead of at the point of importation. 
  • This means that non-UK retailers who are selling goods directly to a UK consumer with a sale value of less than €150 (£135) must:  
    • Register for UK VAT with HMRC  
    • Collect UK VAT from the consumer 
    • File VAT returns 
    • Send VAT to HMRC 
  • The EU are also implementing their own VAT system in July 2021 – where non-EU sellers must register once for the whole EU market.  


While organisations would have welcomed the trade deal between the U.K. and EU, signed on December 30, 2020, it came so close to the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020 that many had insufficient time to fully understand its implications on their activities before it took effect. As people return to work their focus will now be on understanding what changes have taken place as a result of Brexit and the terms of the deal. The economic repercussions of Brexit have been challenging to many, so it is very important businesses familiarise themselves with the changes, so to benefit the most in this difficult time.

Much has been written in the press about how these VAT changes make life more difficult for non-UK businesses. However, if those businesses were already making sales valued at more than £70,000 a year into the UK they would have already been VAT registered and charging UK VAT to customers.  If the packages being delivered are under £135 in value there will be no import VAT or duty to pay and hence, their situation will remain largely unchanged save for the need to complete customs declarations.

For businesses that were not already UK VAT registered and have packages valued at more than £135 or sell via OMP, the position is more complicated.  To determine what your obligations are we would recommend reviewing the following questions:

1. What is the value of my package?
2. If selling via an OMP will you met the conditions for them to take on your obligations to account for UK VAT?
3. If your packages are going to be over £135, what will the customer experience be like if they have to pay extra import costs in addition to your charge?
4. If packages are over £135, will any duties be payable?

Generally, most of the UK’s VAT rules applicable to organisations providing services remain unchanged post Brexit. Specifically, there were no widespread changes to the place of supply provisions (rules that determine the country in which VAT is paid) or rates of VAT. However, changes were made in other areas, and it’s important you familiarise yourself with these changes so that you don’t lose out as a business.

For example, EU retailers sending packages to the UK now need to fill out customs declaration forms. Shoppers may also have to pay customs or VAT charges, depending on the value of the product and where it came from. However, customs charges are the responsibility of the customer, not the retailer, who often has no idea of how much the eventual extra cost might be. They cannot be paid in advance and are levied only when the item reaches the UK.

The end of the Brexit withdrawal period has resulted in many UK VAT rule changes, and organisations will need to adapt to new VAT accounting arrangements. We recommend  that organisations review their sales and purchase transactions and administrative processes to ensure that any changes to the VAT rules have been identified. This will help guard against unexpected costs.

We are here to help you. Head over to our new website here, where you can find support in our Brexit Hub, and get in contact with us or our network to make sure you adapt to these new changes successfully.



UK VAT registered businesses importing goods into the UK are able to account for import VAT on their VAT return, rather than paying import VAT on or soon after the time that the goods arrive at the UK border. This applies to imports from the EU and non-EU countries. 

However, customs declarations and the payment of any other duties are still required. Customs duty (tariffs) applies to some goods and excise duties continue to apply to tobacco, alcohol and certain energy products. Customs and excise duty payments can be deferred to be settled monthly with a duty deferment account. Businesses need to register with HMRC to open a duty deferment account and will need to provide a bank guarantee.

Since 1 January 2021, VAT on imported goods with a value of up to £135 is collected at the point of sale not the point of importation. This means that UK supply VAT, rather than import VAT, are due on these consignments.

Online marketplaces (OMPs) involved in facilitating the sale of imported goods, are responsible for collecting and accounting for the VAT, even when the goods are in the UK at the point of sale.

For goods sent from overseas and sold directly to UK consumers, the overseas seller is required to register and account for the VAT to HMRC. Overseas sellers also remain responsible for accounting for the VAT on goods in the UK when sold directly to UK consumers.

Business-to-business sales not exceeding £135 in value are also be subject to the new rules. However, where the business customer is VAT registered and provides its registration number to the seller, the VAT will be accounted for by the customer by means of a reverse charge. 


Fiscal compliance checks at the UK border include checks to confirm the correct valuation for goods declared at import. Current requirements for importers and agents to assure the completeness and correctness of declarations will remain. Systems should be extended to cover EU imports with a view to identifying false information from consignors, to assure HMRC that clear anomalies can be pulled out from the high scale of declaration volumes typically handled. In particular, importers and agents will need to ensure their systems can identify consignments that are outside the scope of the new arrangements and thus remain liable to import VAT.

Vigilance around consignment valuation will continue, but with more focus on the declaration boundary at £135 or less for this policy. Systems will need to identify excise goods and goods being sent by one private individual to another, which are outside the scope of the new arrangements.


Check with your EU country’s customs authority about the rules for sending goods to the UK from the EU. Make sure you talk to your trading partners in the UK to:

  • agree responsibilities
  • make sure you have the correct paperwork for the type of goods you are trading

You must make sure you have completed the necessary border requirements.

There will be no substantive change for the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and member states of the EU, including Ireland.

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Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you:

A Word From The Chair

This group will seek to cover the three areas of sustainability:

  1. Environmental
  2. Social: Health & Well-being
  3. Economic 

With this group, we aim to empower you to act. We will discuss issues related to the running of sustainable businesses, from practical tips for small steps you can take on a in your daily activity, to how to improve the effectiveness of your company’s sustainability goals. The SAG will become the platform to share experiences, learn from best practices and debate everything from practical examples to policy actions required to improve sustainability throughout. We will seek to create understanding and awareness of sustainability from concept to implementation.

Watch as we have five minutes with Tania Pencheva, Chair of the BritCham Sustainability Action Group.

Are You Looking For New, Sustainable Business Practices?

Getting used to home working? Excited to go back to the office? Looking for the perfect equilibrium? From home, from the office or from any place on our planet… we have solutions for you! 

Did you know about TooGoodToGo? This very user-friendly App will help you to get the leftovers at a competitive price from any restaurant, cafe, hotel breakfasts, etc…Or in the same idea, go for shopping for food at half price to fight against food wastage with Happy Hours Market making good use of leftovers from supermarkets (Carrefour, Delhaize, Colruyt, Färmz, etc…) For both initiatives you just need to download the app, book the product that you want to buy and grab them in the closest distribution point.

Take the opportunity of having less people in the offices to make some changes:

  • Install LED lights everywhere.
  • Think about turning off the heating and the lights where there are empty office spaces.
  • Conduct a full cleaning of your the offices and offer a hygienic and healthy environment to your employees when they will be back! Think about the furniture, the carpets and even the air! Contact Composil Europe or Breezo Air for some ideas.
  • Think about your Mobility planning. Physical presence might have changed. The expectations and needs of employees definitely have changed. Take these opportunities to rethink the fleet management inside your enterprise. Ask MyMove or Skipr for some help! 

On an individual scale, here are some simple things you can apply everyday:

  • Install Ecosia as your search engine on your computer in order to plant trees each time you make a search.
  • Unsubscribe to newsletters you don’t read, they take up space on servers that consume energy for nothing.

As a bonus to minimise your carbon footprint, share these simple ideas to your colleagues so that they can make the same effort as you for a responsible way of living and a safer planet. 

Find out how you can you get involved by contacting Melanie Barker at for more information.

Start 2021 right with our first event ‘Re-Imagining the Workplace’ with Harry Gaskell, Head of LTV, Purpose and Sustainability at Ernst & Young.

This event will be introduced by the CEO of BritCham, Daniel Dalton and the Sustainability Action Group leadership, Tania Pencheva and Noemie de Crombrugghe. This will be followed by the keynote from Harry Gaskell and a Q&A session.

Harry has over 30 years consulting experience focused on helping organisations make major changes to their business, culture or organisation. He will provide thought leadership along with practical tips towards the workplace post-Covid and expectations from leadership and companies going forward. Register for the event here.

Who should attend?
Business leaders in medium and large companies. International companies. individuals and corporates interested in implementing and improving their Sustainable working practices.

This event is open to the Chamber network and is free to attend.

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