At a glance: What could happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit?

The Department for Exiting the EU released a raft of technical notices on preparing for a no-deal Brexit. We look at what they reveal

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab during his speech outlining the government's plans for a no-deal Brexit. Credit: Peter Nicholls/PA

By Nicholas Mairs

24 Aug 2018

The first raft of technical notices explaining how Britain should prepare for a possible no-deal Brexit next March were revealed by the government this week. What should we expect?


Under EU rules, UK companies will need to pay customs duty at the bloc’s Common Customs Tariff. The UK will set its own customs duty for trade coming the other way.

The issue of maintaining an open border on the island of Ireland, which would allow Northern Irish businesses to trade with the Republic, remains unresolved.

Customs declarations will be needed when EU goods enter the UK or when UK goods leave for the EU. Businesses will need to provide the correct classification and value of their goods.

Separate safety and security declarations would also need to be made by the carrier of the goods.

Businesses should consider whether to pay a customs broker, freight forwarder or logistics provider to submit an import declaration, or to acquire new software to assist with it.

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, VAT will be payable on goods below the value of £135 when entering the UK as parcels sent by overseas businesses.

Current EU rules would mean that member states will treat goods entering the bloc from the UK in the same way as goods entering from other non-EU countries, with associated import VAT.

New regulations will be needed for tobacco products, including new pictures for cigarette packet warnings due to copyright issues.


The cost of using a UK credit card in the EU or on products bought from the EU online is likely to increase.

Leaving without a deal could increase costs and processing time for transactions in euros.

Loss of passporting rights could mean Brits on the continent lose the ability to access banking and pensions services.

Without EU action, European clients will be unable to access services of UK investment banks, while UK clients may be unable to service existing cross-border contracts.

Farm payments

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the devolved administrations are preparing domestic legislation (through the Withdrawal Bill) to ensure the UK has the ability in law to continue the operation of support in a ‘no deal’ scenario.

The government has pledged to continue the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of this parliament, which is expected in 2022.


Britain will continue to accept batch testing of medicines carried out in European countries that are approved by the UK’s Medicines Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The UK will recognise medical devices approved for the EU market and CE-marked. 

The current blood safety and quality standards for blood and blood components would not change.

The UK is working with blood establishments, the MHRA and devolved administrations to ensure that there is “day one operability” for blood safety and quality.

The UK will align with EU Clinical Trials Regulation when it comes into force.

Nuclear research

On leaving the EU, a new domestic nuclear safeguards regime will come into force to replace Euratom, which all nuclear operators in the UK will need to comply with.

State aid

EU state aid rules will be transposed into UK law, mirroring existing block exemptions as allowed under the current rules.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority will take on the role of enforcement and supervision for the whole of the UK.

Studying in the UK and EU

Ministers will underwrite successful bids until the end of 2020.

The government will need to reach agreement with the EU for UK organisations to continue participating in Erasmus projects, which it intends to do.

Workplace rights

Workers will continue to be entitled to the rights they have under UK law as EU directives will be carried over.

Read the most recent articles written by Nicholas Mairs - EU leaders agree to 31 January Brexit extension

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