Changes for UK Self Employed After Brexit

Oct 27, 2022


The UK left the European Union on December 31st 2020, and the impact on small businesses, contractors and freelancers has been huge. The decision to proceed with a hard Brexit has resulted in the loss of four freedoms to trade – in labour, capital, goods and services.

If you’re self-employed, a contractor or an expat living or working abroad, the way you work may have changed as a result of Brexit. Here, we break down some of the ways you may be affected, and what you need to do now to ensure your business complies with the new rules.


How has Brexit Affected the Self Employed?

Whether you export to the EU, work abroad or employ overseas nationals, or provide services to the EU, Brexit will have had an effect on the way you operate your business. The government has put together a series of guides for businesses providing services and travelling for business to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

If you:

  • Sell goods to the EU

You’ll need to declare any goods you’re exporting, similarly to when sending goods anywhere else in the world. You can either make the customs declarations yourself or use a customs intermediary. Errors can result in you paying the wrong amount of tax or duty, or risk having the goods delayed or returned, so it’s recommended to get assistance from a courier, freight forwarder or customs agent. Especially if you export or import controlled goods.

Guidance for Northern Ireland may differ, so be sure to check the government’s website for up to date information on doing business with Northern Ireland.

  • Work abroad

You may need to apply for a visa or work permit, although short trips such as for a business meeting won’t have any specific requirements. If you’re a foreign national living and working in the UK, you will need to be sponsored by your employer, unless you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who was living and working in the UK before 31 December 2020, you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

  • Employ overseas nationals

You must be a Home Office licensed sponsor, and your prospective employee must meet certain skills and salary criteria. The new scheme doesn’t apply to Irish citizens or EU citizens eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

  • Receive data from the EU

You’ll need to comply with data protection laws, including GDPR, for any data received from EU, EEA and third countries with “adequacy decisions” for the UK.

  • Provide services in the EU

You may need to check that your UK qualifications are recognised by the relevant EU regulatory or professional body. EU nationals working in the UK will need to do the same.

  • Use a .eu domain name

You will no longer be able to renew your .eu domain name if your business is not based in the EU.


The UK’s departure from the single market has created additional friction and red tape for businesses and self employed professionals, but as long as you complete the appropriate paperwork and comply with the relevant legislation, your business should be able to continue operating with as little added cost and stress as possible.

For more information on the impact of Brexit on UK businesses and individuals, go to the government’s Brexit Guidance collection webpage.

Get in touch with us to discuss your individual circumstances and how we could help you to comply with the new post-Brexit regulations.


Related Services: 

Contractor Accountants

Accounting for Self Employed

Expat Accountants & Tax Advice

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