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BREXIT – What does it mean for the Events Industry?

After years of negotiations, the UK officially left the European Union on the 1st January 2021. One month in, we are starting to see the impact that BREXIT is having on the UK and Europe.

The news is full of stories of people having to pay extra costs when ordering items from the EU. This import tax has come as a surprise to many and people are reporting that they are having to spend as much as ‘an extra £82 for a £200 coat.’ Event organisers should  take note: this means that when you purchase a good or service over a certain amount from the EU, there may be extra fees that you need to pay for Customs and VAT.

What other ways will Brexit directly affect the events industry? Below are some key questions.

1. What impact will Brexit have for people in the EU attending events in the UK and vice versa?

The good news is that no visas will be required for people attending events in the UK or Europe. However, due to the removal of free movement, it is likely that passports will be needed instead of just ID cards to clarify who you are. When arriving in the UK or the EU, border control may be slower with more questions likely surrounding your reasoning for your trip as travel restrictions are tightened.  More information that could be needed at border control includes:

  • Checking you have enough money for your visit
  • Showing border control a return ticket
  • Queuing in a separate lane to people in the EU.
IMEX in Frankfurt 2019 – Sights set on diversity, inclusion, collaboration, ‘new work’ and more
2.  What does Brexit mean for purchasing goods and services from the EU, when in-person events can take place?

Purchasing goods and services from the EU isn’t just an issue in the events industry, it is affecting everyone in the country. Recent press coverage has highlighted that many have already seen an import tax added to goods purchased over a certain amount.

The EU rules vary per country but generally up to 22 Euros is the maximum spend to be VAT and import duty free. For goods that cost 22 to 150 Euros, there may be VAT (which should still be included at checkout) and admin courier charges. There is no set cost for the admin charges but the cost can be anywhere from 5 Euros to much, much more.

For goods over 150 Euros, there may be customs import duties to pay as well as VAT and admin costs. The delivery company will now ask you to pay the VAT and customs charges on your items before they are handed to you.

The customs import duty costs will be calculated based on the cost of the item and where it was made. No import charge needs to be paid if your items were made and manufactured wholly in the EU. But customs duty might need to be paid if the EU seller originally imported it from a non-EU country. And the same charge might apply if a certain percentage of the materials used to make the item came from outside the EU (under what are known as rules of origin). The rate of the customs charge can vary from zero to around 20%.

Some companies will send items DDP (Delivered Duties Paid) which means you won’t end up with a surprise bill because the tax has been sorted in advance. This is important for event professionals to note, as it will enable effective budgeting and avoid any unexpected costs.

Example of event swag
3. What does Brexit mean for GDPR and data?

Fortunately, the General Data Protection Regulations or GDPR have been replicated in UK law so it is currently being assumed that there will be no specific changes.

Currently, there are not any data transfer restrictions as the EU has agreed to delay the restrictions for another 4 months until 1st May 2021. However uncertainty still remains as the EU have not committed as yet to extend this 4 month extension.  If this is not extended then personal data can no longer flow freely between the UK and the EU which will bring uncertainty difficulties for the events industry. For example, it will be a struggle to log personal information of event participants, suppliers etc. from Europe because personal information such as email addresses and phone numbers will be protected.

Electronic check in for attendees at an event
4. Will any documentation be required for people attending or planning events, as a result of Brexit?

Requirements for personal documentation for travelling to or from an event to attend have not necessarily changed.

When it comes to organising and planning events then the answer is most definitely, yes. The regulations get complicated when determining who can work in a certain country and their visa status because free movement is restricted and for some people they will need to apply for a visa to work in certain countries. This is likely going to take 3 weeks to be approved.

Passport control at Gatwick Airport
5. What about attending business meetings in the EU?

For certain reasons, such as if you are attending a business meeting, a visa is not required. The UK Government does state that you may need a visa or work permit for the following reasons:

  • You are providing services in another country as a self-employed person or when you are providing a service to a client in another country when your employer has no presence.
  • ATA carnets, which act as a ‘goods passport’ and are required for temporary movement of goods in and out of the EU, will need to be considered in business procedures and a full understanding of what they do is required. It does get complex though for touring events as ATA carnets were not designed for this purpose.
attending business meetings in the EU

After what has been a difficult time for the events industry and with Brexit adding more uncertainty, I hope this has answered some of the key questions on what Brexit means for events.

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Legacy Marketplace - Connecting organisers to sustainable products and services.

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