Frequently asked questions about Brexit

Trade relations currently take place under the framework of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.


Trade exchanges between the European Union and the United Kingdom, as a third country, involve formalities and controls because of the appearance of the new border. These include customs and non-customs controls, as well as pre-import and pre-export formalities and the application of tariffs.


In addition, goods incorporating components or raw materials from the United Kingdom lose their EU origin, thus affecting their exports to preferential destinations. For goods subject to special regime it is necessary to obtain a license or permit prior to the commercial operation, addressed to the corresponding authority or ministry and presented to customs. For products exported under preferential regime and originating in the EU, it is necessary to prove and verify such origin.


The importance of the adequacy of the INCOTERMS, the conditions of delivery of goods and obligations of the exporter and importer is emphasized. In case of conflict, operators do not have the right to go to the EU Court of Justice.


It is very important to know the legislation applied by the EU and the United Kingdom, to adapt the product conveniently, and to submit it to the corresponding conformity assessment tests foreseen by each technical regulation.

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides that there will be no tariffs or quotas for goods that comply with the rules of origin set out in the text of the Agreement. For goods for which preferential origin cannot be justified, tariffs will be payable against third countries, depending on the tariff classification of the goods.


Some imports from the UK may be subject to additional customs duties as a result of the application of trade defence measures in the EU. The same applies in the opposite direction.

The results of inspections carried out by the authorities in the territory of the issuing authority to assess compliance with the requirements of good manufacturing practice are recognised.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) sets international technical standards. This cooperates for further international harmonisation of technical requirements:


  • Products covered by a valid UN type approval certificate.
  • Exchange of information in the field of market surveillance to support the identification and treatment of non-conformities of motor vehicles.
  • Information exchange linked to the development of new vehicle safety regulations or related standards, advanced emission reduction and emerging vehicle technologies.

Regulatory cooperation, respecting each Party’s right to regulate, both bilaterally and in relevant international fora, the assessment of the hazards and risks of chemicals and the formats for documenting the results of such assessments.


The commitment of both Parties to implement the United Nations Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, as well as scientific and technical guidelines issued by relevant international organisations and bodies.

All products that have a marketing standard in the EU are inspected at the time of import or export. Thus, operators must request the inspection of agri-food products by the inspection service of the Territorial and Provincial Trade Directorates, through the ESTACICE platform.

Wine producers are responsible for self-certifying the conformity and quality of their wine. There are common principles on labelling, which ensure adequate information for consumers.

The agreement reached between the UK and the EU includes recognition of the equivalence of the respective legislation on organic production, which facilitates trade in organic products. Organic products imported from the UK are checked at the time of import. Operators present the corresponding control request and the electronic certificate of origin (e-CO) to the SOIVRE Inspection Service of the Territorial and Provincial Trade Directorates, registered in TRACES.

Reciprocal recognition of equivalence of the current EU and UK organic legislation and control system, for all categories of organic products. This equivalence will be reassessed by the end of 2023.


Organic products that comply with EU legislation and are certified by EU-recognised control bodies are accepted on the UK market and vice versa.

Import and export permits and re-export certificates must be requested for specimens of species included in Annexes A and B of Regulation (EC) 338/97; Import Notifications for specimens of species included in Annexes C and D of Regulation (EC) 338/97, and a Species in Trade Inspection Document (DIESAC), for all commercial operations.


The permit must be obtained in advance of the commercial operation to be carried out, and can be requested telematically from the SOIVRE Inspection Service of any of the Territorial and Provincial Trade Directorates.


Once the goods have physically arrived and, prior to customs clearance, the operator must submit a request for inspection at one of the 12 SOIVRE Inspection Services using the Inspection Document for Species Subject to Control (DIESAC). The goods must be accompanied by the corresponding permits and certificates, previously processed.

Some products such as toys, furniture, footwear or certain personal protective equipment must be checked at the time of import to verify that they comply with the safety requirements laid down in EU legislation. Operators request the inspection of these goods at the inspection service of the Territorial and Provincial Trade Directorates, through the ESTACICE platform.

Shipments arising from foreign trade in defence, other materiel and dual-use goods are considered exports and imports.


The EU General Authorisation EU001 has been modified, so that the products included in it can be definitively exported to the United Kingdom. Prior registration of the operator in the Special Register of Foreign Trade Operators of Defence and Dual-Use Material (REOCE) and notification to the Sub-directorate General for International Trade in Defence and Dual-Use Material of the intention to make use of it is required.


Imports of dual-use items and technologies from the United Kingdom require the corresponding authorisation for all items included in Annex III.3 of Royal Decree 679/2014.

As required by the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the Agreement has substantial sectoral coverage, including professional and business services (e.g. legal, auditing, architectural services), delivery and telecommunications services, digital services, research and development services, most transport services and environmental services.


In addition, the scope of the Agreement applies to investments in sectors other than services, such as manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy and other primary industries.


As in any free trade agreement negotiated by the EU, there are a number of exceptions to the scope of liberalisation: namely public utilities and services of general interest; some transport services; as well as media services.

The UK has signed trade agreements that replicate as far as possible in the UK market the preferential access existing in the EU market.