Brexit – what you need to know and latest updates

Feb 16, 2021 | News & Insights, Brexit

Last updated 16th February 2021:

As part of our support to GCA members we are working to help you navigate the Brexit maze by picking out salient links and points relevant to the greeting card industry.

Please find below the top-line information on trading internationally post-Brexit. There is more detailed information in the Members’ Library.

Government announces NEW £20m SME Brexit Support Fund

On 11th February 20021 the government announced a £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund, offering support to help small businesses adjust to new customs procedures, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

Eligibility: SME’s who trade only with the EU, and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes, can apply for grants of up to £2,000, to pay for practical support including training and professional advice to ensure they can continue trading effectively with the EU.

For more information on the SME Brexit Support Fund, click here and visit  Full guidance on how you can use the grant, who can apply and how to apply, click here

UK Transition out of the EU

Discussions with Europe resulted in The Trade and Cooperation Agreement on 24th December 2020. There is now confirmation that greeting cards, under tariff code 4909, won’t be subject to additional tariffs. See guidance on Rules of Origin which explains what businesses need to do to ensure that they pay zero tariffs, this applies to both exporting goods to the EU, as well as importing goods from EU. Note the Rule of Origin rules also apply to goods imported from the Far East and sold in Europe, for more information EU UK Trade Agreement, to check other products/countries use EU access to market

All the latest information for business, and travel, to the EU is available on gov.transition , which includes a Brexit Checker to help you find answers relating to specific trading questions. Click the following links for more detail for exporting to the EU or importing from the EU .

The government have created a new forum specifically designed to help businesses and traders find answers to questions regarding the transition period. Any publisher or retailer can post on this platform and get a direct response from the government.

Commodity HS codes

The Commodity, or HS code is a number allocated to classify goods crossing boarders. From January 2021 these codes need to be specified on all goods moving in or out of the UK to the EU. This commodity code dictates the duty rating as well as alerts you to any import or export restrictions.

Key Heading codes for our industry,:
Paper Greeting Cards 490900
Paper Gift Wrap 481190
Paper Gift Bags 481940
Notebooks 4820

The Commodity code for importing greeting cards is a ten-digit number, 4909000000, for exporting greeting cards the number is eight-digits: 49090000.

More guidance on these codes can be found here on

Working with your Network

The key to successfully navigating trade post-Brexit is to work closely with the businesses you trade with, in many cases the couriers are a good starting point as they will need to have the paperwork completed correctly to successfully transport goods: This FEDEX link outlines suggested preparations, and includes a  webinar about cross border shipping which may be useful.

Speak to your own couriers, and others in your supply chain, to ensure that you understand the information they need and are prepared to supply it.  

The government has a list of recommended customs agents, including freight forwarders, shipping companies and fast parcel couriers and specialist agents, see this link

Trading with Northern Ireland

The government launched a  new UK Trader Support Scheme  (UKTS) on 14 December 2020. This scheme will help ensure traders don’t pay tariffs on the movement of goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain where those goods remain in the UK’s customs territory, you can register with this scheme on this link. There is specific legislation for trading in Northern Ireland, see this government page. For further reading on the Northern Ireland Protocol, see these links, and updates.

To move goods between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and other parts of the UK and overseas you need to get an EOIR number starting with GB. Note that you may need an additional EOIR number to trade with Northern Ireland, starting with XI, to get an EORI number that starts with XI you must already have an EORI number that starts with GB.

Protecting your designs

January 2021 will bring changes to Intellectual Property rights. Please see article, by specialist legal firm Briffa, detailing the key issues for greeting card publishers:

Impact on Overseas Recruitment

If you have staff members from EU countries, or are looking to recruit overseas nationals from January 2021,  there is information on about what is required. Also GCA Members Hallidays HR have a summary of the information you should consider with further links, see download below.

Further Information

The GCA held a panel discussion on 26th January 2021 to respond to Members’ questions on international trade post-Brexit. This seminar is now available in the Members’ Library, on the link above, and contains lots of additional useful links and information specific to our industry.

The GCA is also attending regular government forums on International Trade Post-Transition. The relevant notes and slides from these are also available in our Members’ Library.

We will update this blog as we gather more information. We will be holding a further Seminar soon so if you have questions that remain please do email us .

Also if you have additional information that you’d like to share please use the comments box under our Seminar blog.

Below are further links to further government support:


Brexit - impact on overseas recruitment - 29th October 2020
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