Disclaimer: It remains the responsibility of your business to prepare itself for Brexit and to seek its own legal advice wherever in doubt. This article is intended as a general guide only. 

Last updated: 15th December 2020

Who Should Read This?

This article is for businesses who trade with the EU/EEA countries.

When Do We Leave The EU?

The UK leaves the EU on 31st January 2019 at 11pm. Nothing changes regarding your site configuration (e.g. VAT settings) until a trade deal has been concluded on or before 31st December 2020.

What Do I Need To Know In General?

The UK Government site has created an FAQ-style questionnaire which covers a wide-range of topics and gives advice. Visit the Gov.uk site

How Does This Affect CMS Sites? (Non-ecommerce)  

NB No software upgrade is required. 

In general, the main changes you will need to make will relate to the content you publish on the site that relates to services provided to the EU/EEA plus to review/amend your terms and conditions as may be required. Make changes to pages in Page Manager.

How Does This Affect Ecommerce Sites?  

NB No software upgrade is required.

Online retailers will need to make changes to, or review, the following areas effective on the date and time of our leaving:

  • VAT regions
    You will need to remove EU countries from your 'tax zone' in Delivery Manager > View Delivery Regions.
    You can do this one-by-one via Despatch & Delivery Manager, or see the instructions below on using the Export/Import systems to prepare in advance and save time.

    NB Test your changes once they've been made.

    Using the Export / Import System

    To save time, you can export this data in advance and change it, then import it back in.
    To export go to Export Manager > Delivery Regions
    To import go to Import System > make selections as shown below and choose your import file
    Check your changes have worked afterwards.

  • Delivery services and charges policies
    Check and implement changes in delivery & handling costs and timescales in Delivery Manager > View Delivery Services or Add Delivery Services

  • Delivery & Returns policies
    Changes in charges and timescales may need to be changed on pages on your site which explain delivery via Page Manager

  • Charging duty on overseas sales (DDU/DAP/DDP)
    There is no legal requirement to calculate and charge duties when buyers place orders, and you can continue to process under DDU/DAP (Delivered Duties Unpaid/Delivered At Place). If you wish to pay duties i.e. DDP then this is usually handled through settings with an integrated courier solution. We integrate with UPS, Easyship, Postmen, Parcel Monkey and ShippyPro and you can check the couriers / services each have available to get to the right solution for your business.

    Read about setting up a delivery duties contribution scheme to encourage more overseas sales.

  • Explain you are Brexit-ready to reassure buyers
    Consider adding some information to your site to explain how you have prepared for Brexit and any impact this has on buyers so they are re-assured:
    1. Add a Brexit blog post in Blog Manager or create a page on Brexit-readiness in Page Manager. 
    2. Add a message on the bottom of your orders to say you are Brexit-ready and give the web page for them to visit to read more. Change this in Page Manager > select page email_new_order.
    3. Add a site-wide banner message that appears at the top of every page and, optionally, a link to your Brexit-readiness page. Do this in Admin > Site Update Banner
    4. Add a message to your checkout page via Page Manager > checkout layout

  • Terms and conditions
    Changes in how you trade with EU/EEA countries may need to be changed on pages on your site which explain them via Page Manager

  • Commercial Invoices For International Sales

    You should currently be sending 'commercial invoices' with your international orders to ensure there are no customs clearance issues. Couriers have been lax to ask for these in the past and may now require them. You will need to check your existing accounting system can generate these, for example Sage Accounts may need 'Foreign Trader' set up.  

    Read how to set up Commodity Codes, Country Of Origin and EORI numbers on your products and orders

  • Changing Prices
    If you need to make adjustments to your prices there is a new improved product price export / import program that shows products and their options underneath each other plus group prices in columns to make it quicker to change prices or add new group prices. Go to Export > Product Prices (New / column mode) and to Import > Product Prices (New / Column) in step 2.
    Note: Not for autoparts sites. Does not support quantity break price changes.
  • Collecting Customer Order Tax Reference For Customs
    Some regions may require collection of a Customer Order Tax Reference or ID number for delivery (e.g. a "CPF Number" in Brazil). Using this new setting you can collect this info against each order from the buyer during checkout. To change go to Admin > Delivery Manager > View Delivery Regions > Edit Delivery Region -> "Require Customer Order Tax Reference at Checkout?" & "Display Customer Order Tax Reference as:"

    (If needed, you can change the Customer Order Tax Reference default text via Site Definitions: VAT_NUMBER & VAT_NUMBER_INFO_LINE)

Want to stop all sales to the EU until the New Year?
There are a number of steps you could take for this:

1. Add a Site Update Banner informing EU visitors not to place orders & update the Checkout page text.

2. Turn off delivery services to the EU (for those that only apply to the EU) in Despatch & Delivery Manager.

3. Restrict regions for payment processors (especially Paypal Express) in Payment Processor Manager

4. Change all EU regions to Inactive in Despatch & Delivery Manager or via the export/import programs.
This will stop EU countries from appearing in the address dropdown list meaning no order can be placed.

5. Put the site into Enquire Only mode to stop taking all orders on the site from any country until you are ready to re-start in the New Year. Go to Site Settings > General > tick 'Only allow enquiries on products'

Removal Of 'Country Of Origin' Principle (CMS & Ecommerce Sites)

All businesses trading with the EU / EEA are advised to assess the impact of the removal of the 'country of origin' principle and adhering to regulations within each country with which you trade. This could apply to physical and digital products as well as business services. This might impact your terms and conditions which you can change in Page Manager. Read more on the Gov.uk website.

Affect On Consumer Rights & Dispute Resolution

You will need to keep apprised on how Brexit will affect this dependent upon the final outcome. Read more on the Gov.uk website.

How Does This Affect GDPR?

It does not affect the need to be fully GDPR compliant and it is expected the UK will become a “favoured nation” via an “adequacy decision” on behalf of the EU, which should facilitate the free transfer of data without the need to implement additional safeguards.

NB If you are still struggling to understand or implement GDPR and require assistance, please contact your account manager or support team to schedule us to help you become compliant (charges apply, this usually takes 2-3 hours for us to complete).

7 Things You Can Do To Understand & Mitigate Brexit Affecting Your Sales?

Given the uncertainty and potential for short term disruption to EU sales during Brexit, our advice is to maximise what you can generate from your existing website and to reach out to new markets: 

  • Increase your conversion rate by following our 50+ actionable steps
  • Move to HTTPS so your website starts with https:// and displays the green padlock to reassure buyers
  • Ensure you have a fully responsive website to encourage more purchases from people visiting your site on mobile devices 
  • Check Google Analytics to see how many transactions you do with the EU and what your possible exposure might be
  • Target other international markets especially whenever a new trade deal has been signed
  • Increase your digital marketing efforts and take more share of your existing home market
  • Review your pricing and shipping to ensure you remain competitive within the EU marketplace
  • Work on increasing your average order value