UK transition: what are the key dates?

The UK formally left the EU on 31 January 2020, which marked the beginning of the transition period. So what are the key dates that businesses should be aware of? And what should business owners be doing now to prepare for the new trading relationship with the EU?

Key dates:

Here are the key dates you need to know in the UK transition timeline:

  • 31 January 2020: EU exit day. The UK officially left the EU and entered the transition period.
  • 31 December 2020: End of the transition period. This deadline cannot be extended.
  • 1 January 2021: New trading relationship begins. On this date, either a new UK-EU trade deal comes into force, or the UK will start to trade on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms with the EU.

During the transition period

Until 31 December 2020, the UK will still follow EU rules and regulations so not much will change for businesses.

If a new UK-EU trade deal is agreed in time, this could come into force from 1 January 2021. However, if a deal is not agreed in time, the UK will begin to trade on WTO terms from 1 January 2021.

Regardless of the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the UK and the EU, the government is urging businesses to take action now to prepare for 2021.

These actions include:

  • Making sure you are ready to travel to Europe from 1 January 2021, for example by getting comprehensive travel insurance, ensuring your passport is valid, and checking your roaming policy with your mobile phone provider. Find out more here.
  • Finding out about any extra requirements if you are travelling for business. Read more about this here.
  • Making sure your business is ready to export or import from/to the EU, for example by getting an EORI number. Learn more here.

How to get started

The government’s new checker tool, which is available at, helps businesses to quickly identify the next steps they need to take to get ready for UK transition.

Where to access support to prepare your business

The North East Growth Hub’s UK transition toolkit brings together advice, insights from experts and tools to help businesses in the North East prepare. Access the free UK transition toolkit here.

Find out more about preparing your business for EU Exit