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Brexit

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 but remains in the EU customs union and single market till 31 December 2020.


Leaving the EU allows the UK to develop its own new trade agreements with other countries, including New Zealand.

Should the UK and EU not reach agreement on their terms of trade after 31 December 2020, and an extension of the transition period is not agreed, then a "no deal" scenario is possible on 1 January 2021.

What is the NZ government doing?

The New Zealand Government, including Customs, has been paying close attention to how Brexit unfolds, to ensure our country’s interests are maintained and advanced. We have been engaged at all levels, with decision-makers in the UK and the EU, particularly on trade and economic matters. New Zealand’s aim has been to ensure we limit disruption as much as possible to those New Zealanders affected by what happens.

The New Zealand Government has been working to protect our current market access to both the EU and the UK, including under the EU’s WTO tariff rate quotas. We have been engaging regularly with decision-makers in the UK and EU to stress the importance of arriving at an outcome that leaves us no worse off.

What is Customs doing?

While the exact implications of a no deal scenario on 1 January 2021 are still unknown, Customs is focused on doing its best to help New Zealand’s exporters to the UK during this uncertain time.

New Zealand Customs - including our Counsellors based in London and Brussels - are working closely with the UK Government, as well as the European Commission and EU countries, to help facilitate trade during Brexit and monitoring Brexit-related trade developments.

We are also working closely with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to ensure we have a coordinated approach to communicating to and engaging with New Zealand exporters on Brexit.

We have also set up the email address brexit@customs.govt.nz to respond to questions from exporters.

Customs agreements

We have a Customs agreement in place with the UK which will come into effect at the end of transition period. It is similar to the current Customs agreement we have in place with the EU, and is a necessary first step towards agreeing a mutually recognised secure trade scheme between New Zealand and the UK.

The EU–New Zealand Customs agreement is not affected by Brexit.

What will happen to the EU-NZ free trade agreement? 

Negotiations towards an EU-New Zealand free trade agreement will continue without the UK after it leaves the EU. New Zealand launched these negotiations in June 2018 and negotiators met for a second round in October 2019 in New Zealand.

Find out more about EU-New Zealand free trade agreement negotiations.

Pre-transition period

Until the end of the transition period (currently 31 December 2020), the UK remains part of the EU, including both the European single market and customs union, and so nothing will change for NZ trade.

Post-transition period

From 1 January 2021, the UK will leave the EU Customs Union, no longer apply the EU Common Customs tariff and will instead use the new UK Global Tariff.

Trade from NZ directly to the UK in terms of Customs requirements will largely be unchanged, aside from change to the UK Global Tariff.

Trade from NZ to EU will remain unchanged. The same EU Customs and regulatory checks (border  controls) and tariff will continue to apply.  

Trade between the UK and EU will change. The UK will be treated as a ‘third country’ from a customs perspective, whether or not a trade deal is agreed. This means exports between the EU and the UK will require customs declarations, formalities and checks to be carried out, and any customs duties paid. This may impact on NZ businesses which trade between UK and EU.

Information for exporters

There are a number of things that NZ businesses can do to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

  • Ensure you check the tariff rate for their goods into the UK and EU - look at the UK’s online tariff finder.
  • Exporters to the UK and EU should check their supply chains for any impacts.
  • Ensure you understand any documentation requirements for importing into the UK and EU – checking with your customer, distributor, broker or forwarder.
  • Check with your forwarder or broker on shipping routes and understand any transit or trans-shipment requirements.
  • Check if your customer or forwarder is an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) – this may help reduce delays.
  • Keep informed by regularly checking the New Zealand government websites
  • The European Commission has launched an online hub enabling small businesses to check the requirements for imports and exports out of the EU. The free service, Access2Markets, provides details on topics including tariffs, food safety requirements and rules of origin, as well as information on 124 foreign markets.

Contact us

If you are a New Zealand business and concerned about the impact on Brexit on your exports to the UK or EU, or have Customs-related questions on Brexit, please email us.

Further information

Find out what the Government is doing to prepare for Brexit, and what the UK leaving the EU means for New Zealand from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise website has more information about Brexit for New Zealand exporters.

The Ministry for Primary Industries website has information specific to the primary sector.

You can also keep up to date with the latest Brexit information on these international websites: