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Brexit and its effects on the trade with the United Kingdom from 1 January 2021

As of 1 January 2021, the transition period established in connection with the United Kingdom's (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU) will be over. This means that from 1 January 2021, trade in goods with the UK is subject to customs formalities.

The transition period will end on 31 December 2020. Up to the end of the transition period, no customs formalities are required in trade with the UK.

Companies that have commercial relations with the UK have to be prepared for changes.

You can assess the preparedness of your business using the following materials:

Is your business ready for changes?

To get guidance on trade relations with a third country, please find the information on the Estonian Tax and Customs Board's website ("Business client" – "Customs, trade in goods"). If you have any further questions, please contact our customer support at the e-mail or on the phone +372 880 0814.

Four general principles to know
  • Customs declarations are lodged electronically through the Estonian Tax and Customs Board's online services environment e-MTA, and an EORI number is required.
  • The customs declaration is lodged at each time the goods are received/dispatched/transited.
  • The payment of taxes relating to the importation of goods (customs duties, excise duties, VAT) is made by means of a customs declaration.
  • Goods are subject to both tariff and non-tariff measures upon entry and exit.
Four essential pieces of knowledge to benefit from
  • The coverage of the most important topics can be found in the Guidance Note by the European Commission "Withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules in the field of customs, including preferential origin" (PDF).

  • Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU are still going on, which could also have a significant impact on customs operations after 1 January 2021. Please keep up with the changes yourself, since the information is changing rapidly.

  • Northern Ireland is part of the customs territory of the UK, but no customs supervision, controls or formalities shall be applicable to goods moving between Northern Ireland and the EU, where those goods move as an intra-Union movement.

  • Country codes – with regard to Brexit, from 1 January 2021, two country codes for the United Kingdom will be used when carrying out customs formalities: ‘GB’ and ‘XI’.
    GB – depending on the context, covers the whole of the United Kingdom or the United Kingdom, with the exception of Northern Ireland.
    XI – used to distinguish Northern Ireland (the customs territory of the EU) from the United Kingdom, where this is necessary when carrying out customs formalities.

    • When to use ‘GB’ and ‘XI’?

      • Operator details: the country code is entered on the customs declaration after the EORI number has been entered with the data in the EORI database. If the EORI number does not exist or does not need to be provided, the whole UK country code is ‘GB’, i.e. also for a person registered in Northern Ireland, the country is ‘GB’.

      • When selecting the country of origin and destination, it is possible to select both ‘GB’ and ‘XI’ as the country. The selection of countries includes the codes:
        GB – United Kingdom, except Northern Ireland;
        XI –  Northern Ireland.

      • ‘GB’ is always used to identify the country of origin and the country of transport. There is no need to distinguish Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom to identify the country of origin and the country of transport.

The end of the transition period

The goods dispatched before 1 January 2021, but arrive at the EU from 1 January 2021 can be considered Union goods if it is proved that the movement of the goods started before the end of the transition period and the goods have the customs status of Union goods.

Potential situations that may arise at the end of the transition period have been described in item 5.3 (page 14) of the Guidance Note "Withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules in the field of customs, including preferential origin" (PDF).

Information on customs clearance

In the following, we will draw attention to some of the most important aspects of trade with third countries.

  • If your business does not yet have an EORI number required for customs clearance, we recommend to request it from the Estonian Tax and Customs Board in good time.

EORI number check
Economic operators registration (EORI) »

Read more

Useful links for guidance on moving goods between UK and EU from 1 January 2021

Getting Started

Customs Procedures

Importing and Exporting Animal Food and Plants

Export Health Certificates
Live Animals and Animal Products – GB-EU
High Risk Food and Feed
SPS - guidance on plant and plant product imports
SPS - List of high priority plants
ISPM15 International wood packaging standards
CITES (International Trade in Endangered Species)
Food Labelling
Exporting Medicines to the EU
Controlled Goods- Import/Export Licences
CE and UKCA markings / Regulations of Manufactured Goods
UK Strategic Exports


Goods moving over midnight


Placing goods on the UK Market