Boris Johnson says ‘our destiny in our hands’ as Brexit transition ends, FT

  • UK prime minister Boris Johnson on Thursday morning celebrated the passage of the Brexit trade deal bill through parliament, claiming: “The destiny of this great country now lies firmly in our hands.”
  • The Queen gave her royal assent to the bill late on Wednesday night after MPs and peers voted to endorse Mr Johnson’s trade deal with the EU, which ensures tariff-free and quota-free trade for most goods.
  • HM Revenue & Customs has estimated the extra form-filling and customs declarations required from Thursday night would cost British business £7bn; new border checks and incorrectly completed forms could cause delays.
  • Ministers have not denied industry estimates that 50,000 private sector customs agents need to be hired to help companies cope with the new bureaucracy. Only a fraction of those agents are thought to have been hired so far.

‘No customs declarations’ for GB to NI parcels, BBC

  • The government has said online retailers in GB will not have to make customs declarations when sending parcels to customers in NI. However that arrangement is only guaranteed until April and it is unclear what happens then.
  • The government says the three-month grace period: “Recognises the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland, the impacts of any disruption to parcel movements in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and specific challenges for operators moving express consignments.”
  • A government spokesman said further details will be published in the new year, adding: “Our priority is to have a pragmatic approach that allows us to comply with the [Northern Ireland] Protocol without causing undue disruption to businesses and citizens. HMRC is engaging with operators to finalise arrangements.”
  • An NI-based business receiving goods valued at £135 or more through an express carrier or Royal Mail will need to submit a customs declaration within three months of receiving the goods and can use the government’s Trader Support Service to do so.
  • Excise goods, which mostly refers to alcoholic drinks, will also need a declaration when being sent from GB to NI.

Gibraltar gets UK-Spain deal to keep open border, BBC

  • Spain has reached a deal with the UK to maintain free movement to and from Gibraltar once the UK formally leaves the EU on Friday.
  • To avoid a hard border, they have agreed that Gibraltar will join the EU’s Schengen zone and follow other EU rules, while remaining part of the UK. The deal was announced by Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya, just hours before the UK exits the EU.
  • The deal, not yet formalised by a treaty, does not address the thorny issue of sovereignty. Spain has long disputed British sovereignty over the Rock, which is home to about 34,000 people. The Remain vote there was an overwhelming 96% in the 2016 EU referendum.
  • The Gibraltar deal will mean the EU sending Frontex border guards to facilitate free movement to and from Gibraltar, during a transitional period, pending a treaty.

New guidance: ‘Rules of Origin for goods moving between the UK and EU from 1 January 2021’, HM Revenue and Customs (29 December 2020)

  • This document published on 29 December provides detailed guidance on the rules of origin requirements under the UK’s deal with the EU (the Trade and Cooperation Agreement).
  • It explains the most important provisions which businesses need to understand and comply with, in order to ensure that they pay zero tariffs when trading with the EU. This applies to both businesses that wish to export goods to the EU at zero tariffs, as well as businesses who wish to import goods from EU at zero tariffs.


Jessica's practice focuses on international trade and anti-bribery work, encompassing customs, export control and sanctions matters. Jessica's trade work includes advising international clients on fast-moving and evolving EU and UN sanctions, notably in respect of Iran and Russia, and on compliance with UK and EU export controls. Her trade experience also includes advising on tariff classification and customs valuations. Jessica's anti-bribery experience includes assisting with investigations, and advising clients on compliance with anti-bribery laws. Jessica has also taken a lead role in monitoring Brexit-related developments; analysing how they will affect the UK's trading position generally, and clients' businesses specifically. She has helped clients begin to conduct risk assessments of how Brexit will impact their businesses, and has assisted them in developing tailored Brexit strategies. Jessica also presents at various seminars, webinars, and conferences on the complexities of Brexit. Jessica advises global clients on complex issues arising from international transactions and works with clients across a number of sectors including pharmaceuticals, defence, finance, aviation, energy, and telecommunications. Jessica has also worked previously in Paris, and is fluent in French.

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