The transition period has now ended and new rules for business and trade came into force on 1 January 2021.

Key facts: 

  • Businesses operating in the construction sector will be affected by new rules after the transition period ends.
  • Importing and exporting construction materials and chemicals will require compliance with two sets of rules.
  • Construction workers moving between the EU and UK will be subject to immigration and employment rules.

Examples include:

Construction companies, builders, tradespeople, distributers of construction materials and chemicals.

How we buy and sell products, provide services and hire staff from the EU, will change after the transition period ends. Businesses are advised to consider their route to market and look at what it means for their margins when they provide services, export and import to and from European countries on different terms, and when costs of recruitment will rise.


  • EU nationals currently in the UK can apply for (pre-)Settled Status under the Settlement Scheme.
  • After the transition period ends, EU staff that come to the UK to work, will need to apply under the points-based immigration system, and businesses have to sponsor applicants they want to recruit.
  • EU business visitors can travel to the UK visa-free with a valid passport, and they can stay for a maximum of 6 months, but there will be restrictions on paid activities.
  • UK nationals can travel to the EU visa-free with a passport that is valid for at least 6 months, and they can stay for a maximum of 90 consecutive days in any 180 day period, but there will be restrictions on paid activities.
  • UK construction workers carrying out projects in Europe may be subject to local employment and immigration rules. Their professional qualifications may not be recognised.


  • Import and export of goods will be subject to customs controls and may attract tariffs.
  • Rules around placing products on the EU and UK markets will be different.
  • UK services providers will be subject to more local rules in an EU country than now.


  • Construction Products Regulation: CE marking will be replaced by a UK Conformity Assessment (UKCA) mark and conformity assessments and certificates for Europe-bound products will have to be issued by an EU-recognised notified body.
  • Chemicals: The EU’s main chemicals regulation, REACH, will be replaced by UK REACH and the manufacturing and importing of biocides, pesticides, and classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals will also be impacted.

To do


  • Support and encourage current EU staff to apply for pre-Settled Status or Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme to ensure that they maintain their right to work. Check out the EU Settlement Scheme Employer Toolkit.
  • Read about the details of the new points-based immigration system.
  • Check what it will mean to provide services in EU countries and which business activities will require compliance with local rules.
  • Find out what exporting goods to EU countries will mean after the transition period ends.
  • Find out what importing goods from EU countries will mean after the transition
    period ends.
  • Call the UK Export/Import helpline for support: 0300 3301 331.


  • Read the guidance on the Construction Products Regulation (withdrawn, yet valid).
  • Find out how to comply with REACH, how rules will be different for using or importing chemicals and read the guidance from ECHA.
  • Check the transition page of the Health and Safety Executive.
  • Anticipate opening an account on REACH IT (not yet in use) to provide information on your chemicals registrations.
  • Consider changes to the labelling and packaging of chemicals and to using biocides, pesticides and hazardous chemicals.
  • You may also want to read the EU Readiness Notices on professional qualifications, services and posted workers, timber products, REACH, plant protection products, biocidal products, industrial products, emission standards, explosives for civil uses, fertilisers, and detergents.
  • Understand changes to your VAT obligations and what it means to trade as a business from a non-EU country with regard to VAT, and read specific guidance on VAT on goods.
  • Check the ICO guidance on GDPR.

Employing and managing staff

Useful resources to help businesses understand the implications of leaving the EU on employing and managing staff include:

  • Home Office guidance for EU, EEA and Swiss frontier workers who want to continue working in the UK
  • The EU Settlement Scheme enables EU,EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who live in the UK before the end of the transition period to continue to live, work and study in the UK.

Go to the Government’s checker tool and the EU Readiness Notices for more information on EU exit and your sector.

What’s next?

Trade under EU rules will continue as normal until the transition period ends. A new trade agreement will lay down the final conditions for UK-EU trade in goods and services. As part of the new commercial environment, a UKCA mark and UK REACH will be phased in.

Disclaimer At the time of writing, the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, and the changes outlined in this fact sheet will occur from 1 January 2021. If that date slips, the changes will still happen, but at a later date. For latest updates go to

Related Resources

EU Post-Transition Business Resource Hub
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EU Post-Transition Business Resource Hub

Support for firms to prepare for new rules for business and trade.

Employing UK Staff in the EU
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Employing UK Staff in the EU

Advice on employing UK nationals that work in the EU after the transition period.

Glossary of Brexit Terms
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Glossary of Brexit Terms

An overview of common terms to help you prepare for the end of the transition.