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Following the extension to the Brexit deadline, HMRC will continue to help businesses prepare for Brexit in all scenarios, including the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 31 January 2020.

Many of the steps that you have already taken to get your business ready for Brexit will still be useful preparation for the UK leaving the EU, with or without a deal:

  • If you have received an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number starting with GB, please retain this number. Your EORI number will remain valid for use in trade with businesses based in the EU if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Your EORI number can be used now to trade with businesses based outside of the EU.
  • If you are an importer and have registered for Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP), you should retain your letter of approval – it will remain valid if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
  • If you received a letter from HMRC telling you that you’ve automatically been registered for TSP, we will be writing to you again soon to authorise you to use it to import TSP standard goods from the EU if the UK leaves without a deal – please retain these letters and your TSP number.

To find out more about the steps you need to take to get ready for Brexit, go to GOV.UK.

Workers: checking the right to stay

Citizens of the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, or those with such a family member, living in the UK before it leaves the EU, should check what they need to do in order to stay after Brexit.

For most such workers, and their family members, this will involve applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), which gives the ability to continue living, working and studying in the UK. However, there is no need to apply where someone has indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK. Neither do those with British or Irish citizenship – including ‘dual citizenship’ – need to apply.

EU Settlement Scheme

There are different application deadlines for the EU Settlement Scheme, depending on whether there is a no-deal Brexit or a negotiated settlement. With a no-deal Brexit, the deadline for EUSS applications is 31 December 2020. Otherwise, it is on 30 June 2021. It is free to apply, and it would be wise to do so as soon as possible. An application can be made online.

Successful applicants will receive either settled or pre-settled status. This is based on how long someone has lived in the UK: it is not a matter of choice. Broadly, settled status is given where someone has lived in the UK for five years continuously, and pre-settled status where someone has lived in the UK for less than this. For either status, applicants should have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 – or the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Either status gives access to public services like the NHS, pensions, and means someone can continue working in the UK, though rights are slightly different for each.

Employers are not obliged to assist, but HMRC’s employer toolkit is designed to facilitate employers providing advice and support to relevant staff.

Employers: other considerations

The government is currently reviewing arrangements for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving in the UK after Brexit as part of its plans for a future points-based immigration system. But until 31 December 2020, such citizens can continue to enter, live and work in the UK as they do now. For those wanting to stay beyond this, a temporary three-year UK immigration status, European Temporary Leave to Remain, is being planned. Thereafter, an application under the points-based system, expected in 2021, would be required.

Employers should be aware of key deadlines and immigration rules applying at any point, as workers inadvertently breaching immigration procedures could become illegal workers. Deal or no-deal Brexit, employers should also carry on with normal right to work checks. Further Home Office guidance is expected, clarifying when the right to work checks will change. It is not anticipated, however, that there will be any change until 1 January 2021. Employers can check the current position here.

These are challenging times for employers, and we should be delighted to do all we can to help, please get in touch with Ann Bibby at abibby@ellacotts.co.uk or 01295 250401.

Read our UK No Deal Brexit Planning Checklist for further information.