The UK is one of the Netherlands’ main trading partners for both imports and exports. Larger companies as well as SMEs can benefit from the opportunities offered. Below we give some important information and tips about doing business in the UK. You can always contact the economic team for further queries or advice.
For any questions about doing business with the UK after Brexit, please refer to the Dutch government’s Brexit desk. You also can find the Brexit Impact Scan there.
The UK is one of the main trading partners for Dutch companies. What makes the UK so interesting?
- With a population of over 66 million, the UK is a big potential sales market.
- The UK is easily accessible from the Netherlands.
- The language barrier is relatively small.
- The UK and the Netherlands have a similar business culture.
- There is a long history of cooperation between the UK and the Netherlands and many Dutch companies already do business with UK partners.
- The Netherlands is among the UK’s top 5 import and export partners.
Since the 1st of January 2021 Full customs controls are in place between the EU (except the island of Ireland) and Great Britain. To make sure that your goods are cleared through customs and to avoid potential delays you need to be sure to have made the following steps:
- You need an EORI number starting with GB. If you use a haulier, you will need to give this to them before your goods are moved. To get an GB EORI number go to: get an EORI number
- If your goods are being moved through a Goods Vehicle movement service (GVMS) port you or your haulier must enter all the information about your goods movement on GVMS before your goods arrive at the departure port. You can then use the GVMS to get a goods movement reference (GMR), which can be quickly checked at the border. You can find a list of border locations that are using GVMS here.
- If your goods are being moved through a border location that doesn’t use GVMS, ask your carrier what information you’ll need to clear customs. And if you move your own goods through a border location using GVMS, you’ll need to register for GVMS. Once you’ve registered, you can create a GMR to use at the border.
- If you import goods into GB from the EU, you or the person moving your goods must check whether the goods need to be taken for an inspection on arrival. You don’t need to be registered to use the service but will need the GMR to access the correct information. If you don’t take your goods for an inspection when you’re told to, you may need to pay a penalty up to £2,500. The person who created the GMR is responsible for making sure the goods are taken for an inspection.
- The way you submit a declaration when importing goods into the UK has also changed. In most cases, you no longer need to manually arrive your goods on the system. However, there are some exceptions where you may need to. Please go to GOV.UK to read more about making a full import declaration and making a simplified frontier declaration.
- If you do need to arrive your goods manually on the system, you must do this by 11.59pm the day after the goods arrive in the UK. If you’re using a freight forwarder or customs agent to complete customs declarations on your behalf, you should make sure they’re aware of this information.
You can also use the Brexit Impact Scan to check how you can prepare for changes in importing and exporting to and from the UK.
The EU – UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into effect on 1 January 2021. For importing goods from the Netherlands or any other country into the UK, companies have to deal with new customs processes and formalities. In order to make the import of goods as smooth and fast as possible, businesses are advised to consult the website of GOV.UK and go through the processes step by step to see if they meet all the conditions and criteria:
Import goods into the UK: step by step - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
You can also use the Brexit Impact Scan to check how you can prepare for changes in customs procedures.
General product safety law
Since the UK has left the EU, the rules and procedures for product safety legislation in the UK have changed from 1 January 2021. The national regulator for all consumer products (except for vehicles, medicines and food) is the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). Products intended for the UK market (businesses that make, import, distribute or sell products on the UK) must comply with the requirements of all applicable UK legislation. The OPSS provides guidance on regulations per product type.
A new regulatory regime has been introduced by UK government for businesses to place goods on the British market, called UKCA marking which replaces the EU’s CE marking for certain goods. It confirms that marked products meet certain health, safety and environmental regulations and standards. The UKCA marking came into effect on 1 January 2021, but businesses are able to use CE marking until 1 January 2023 in most cases.
Manufacturers will need to affix the new UKCA marking by the product and carry out third party conformity assessment by a UK body, if required by legislation. You can find out what this means for your business by reading the UK government guidance for using the UKCA marking.
Please note that UKCA marking alone cannot be used for goods placed on the market in Northern-Ireland, read what you need to do here.
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency provides more information on product standards that apply in the UK.
You can use the Brexit Impact Scan to check how you can prepare for changes in product requirements as a result of Brexit.
Setting up a business in the UK is still fairly straightforward, provided you have an address in the UK. You can set up a Limited Company (Ltd) or a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).
It is mandatory to register your company if you have a physical presence in the UK; there is no need to register if you are only importing or exporting.
If you are setting up a business you will need to choose a legal entity. You can opt for a limited company (Ltd) or a limited partnership (LLP). The limited company is the form most often used by foreign entrepreneurs establishing a business in the UK. It is comparable to the Dutch besloten vennootschap (BV). A limited company has one or more owners/shareholders, whose liability is limited to the amount of capital they invested.
It is also possible to set up a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). With this legal form the business is run by two or more partners. Another company can also be admitted as a corporate partner. Each partner pays tax over their share of the partnership’s profits but is not personally liable for the partnership’s debts.
You can find more information on the UK government website.
Registering in the register of companies and with HM Revenue and Customs
Limited companies have to be registered with Companies House, which maintains the UK’s register of companies. This is generally done fairly quickly – in some cases even within 24 hours. Companies House ensures that information about newly-formed and newly-dissolved companies is accessible to the public. You must notify Companies House whenever any significant changes occur in regard to your company/partnership.
Once the limited company has been formed and registered with Companies House it must also be registered with HMRC, the UK tax and customs authority. This can also be done online.
An LLP must also be registered with Companies House and with HMRC for self-assessment of tax.
A self-employed person is known in the UK as a ‘sole trader’. As a sole trader you are personally liable for any losses your business makes. If your gross income from trading exceeds £1,000 in a given tax year you have to register as self-employed. If your turnover is more than £85,000 a year you also have to register for VAT.
The UK government’s website provides more information on setting up as a sole trader. You are welcome to contact us. We will be pleased to help you.
Opening a business bank account
If you want to do business in the UK you may need to open a UK business bank account. Each bank or FinTech/online possibility has its own procedures. In general you will need to bear the following in mind:
- You must have an address in the UK. It can be a company/partnership address or the residential address of yourself or a member of staff.
- The application will be dealt with by the bank’s central inward investment banking team. It often is not possible to open an account through a local branch.
- Most FinTech/NeoBanks will have a possibility to open an account online.
- A representative of the company/partnership must personally sign an account opening mandate at a bank.
The UK government’s website provides more information on opening a business bank account.
The UK government operates a number of schemes to support UK-registered businesses financially (grants, soft loans and guarantees) and provide them with advice. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) maintains a comprehensive list of funding opportunities, broken down by region. Other finance options (for smaller businesses) can be found via the government-owned British Business Bank.
It also can be interesting to check business help on a local level. For England check Growth Hubs led by Local Enterprise Partnerships. Scotland offers business support with Business Gateway, Wales provides regional centres through Business Wales and Local Invest Northern Ireland Regional Office supports businesses in Northern Ireland.
You can check your trading partner’s creditworthiness in the Guide for creditors. And the Small Business Commisioner gives you advice about how to make sure you receive payments on time. You should also prepare yourself for doing business in pounds sterling and take account of possible currency risks.
The UK government’s Contracts Finder has a comprehensive list of current public contract opportunities (tenders). Go to the website for more information about current and upcoming contract award procedures in specific market segments.
The UK is no longer part of the EU since 1 January 2021. This means there is no longer free movement of workers.
The UK has introduced a Points-based Immigration System. It treats EU and non-EU citizens equally and aims to attract people who can contribute to the UK’s economy. This means that EU citizens will need a visa to work in the UK. More information can be found in here.
The UK government’s website provides detailed information about taking on staff in the UK and the rights and obligations of employees.
On the Brexit desk you can find more information about staff and working in the UK.
On 28 June 2021 the EU Commission adopted decisions on the UK’s adequacy under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) and Law Enforcement Directive (LED). In both cases, the European Commission has found the UK to be adequate. This means that most data can continue to flow from the EU and the EEA without the need for additional safeguards or changes. More information you can find here.
The rules around GDPR are retained in domestic law as the UK GDPR, so are also still applying to the UK. More information about the UK GDPR can be found on the website from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
There are various types of intellectual property and not all of them are treated the same way in the UK. Sometimes protection is given automatically, as in the case of copyright and design right. At other times, protection needs to be applied for specifically, as in the case of trademarks, registered designs and patents. IP Equip is a free online course provided by the UK government to give you a quick overview of the various types of intellectual property that may be relevant to you.
The UK government’s website provides more information about UK rules on intellectual property and submitting applications.
Since 1 January 2021 EU Trade Marks (EUTMs) and International Trade Mark will no longer protect trade marks in the UK. International (EU) trade mark registrations protected in the EU under the Madrid Protocol are no longer protected in the UK. The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will create a comparable UK Trade mark (IR) for all right holders with an existing EU trade mark and international (EU) trade mark
You can use the Brexit Impact Scan to check how you can prepare for changes in regard to intellectual property.
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises specify what the Dutch government (and the 45 other countries in the OECD) expects of internationally operating companies in regard to responsible business conduct.
The guidelines outline how companies should deal with issues such as supply chain responsibility, human rights, child labour or the environment. By complying with the OECD Guidelines you make your business more transparent and run less risk.
The CSR Risk Check is intended for entrepreneurs who purchase, export or manufacture goods outside the Netherlands. After doing the check you will know what your international CSR risks are and how you can reduce them.
The UK Modern Slavery Act has been in force since 2015. It obliges all businesses with annual turnover exceeding £36 million to publish a statement for each financial year, stating the steps they have taken to ensure that slavery, involuntary labour and human trafficking are not taking place either in their own business operations or in their supply chain.
This means that you may be asked to issue such a statement if your business is part of a large UK company’s supply chain. Both the UK and Dutch governments are also encouraging smaller businesses to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement.
You can find more information about the Modern Slavery Act and the statement in these UK government publications: Transparency in Supply Chains .
If you have a specific question or cannot find the information you are looking for, you are welcome to contact the economic team by e-mail.
If you have a specific question or cannot find the information you are looking for, you are welcome to contact the economic team by e-mail.