Transition period due to end in six weeks’ time

The RIBA and Arb have warned architects not to let covid-19 overshadow the impact of the end of the UK’s transition period with the EU in just six weeks’ time.

The pair told practices to get to grips with new rules on mutual recognition of professional qualifications and construction material imports after trade talks between the UK and the EU wrap up on December 31 this year.


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Around 20% of the architects working in the UK come from the EU

While the negotiations are still underway, many details about the future relationship between the UK and the EU have been confirmed, including the new points-based immigration system set to come into force from January 1.

The EU is currently the second largest market for the export of UK architectural services worldwide, while one fifth of architects practising in the UK originally qualified in the EU and 60% of the construction materials used on UK projects are imported from Europe.

RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance warned architects not to be distracted by the challenges of covid-19 restrictions as the end of the transition period approaches.

He said: “The profession is currently facing unprecedented challenges – responding to the global pandemic and economic slump – and on top of this, we’re also hurtling towards December 31.

“While preparing for Brexit might not seem like a priority, especially without clarity on trade deal arrangements, it’s essential that businesses and individuals familiarise themselves with the changes that will affect the way UK architecture operates.”

Earlier this week, the government drew up a list of the top five Brexit tips for construction firms ahead of December 31.

The list included guidance on how to recruit workers from outside the UK, how to check if a visa or work permit is needed to travel to the EU for work purposes and information on export tariffs.

Govenment’s advice for construction

1. Comply with the new immigration policies for recruiting from overseas

From January 2021, free movement with the EU will end and we will introduce a points-based system specific to the UK. EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally and will need to meet certain requirements to work in the UK. If you want to recruit workers from outside the UK from 1 January 2021, you will need to apply to be a visa sponsor.

To find out how to comply with the new system as an employer visit:

2. Check if a visa or work permit is required to travel to the EU for work purposes and apply if necessary

From January 2021, travel to the EU for work purposes may require a visa or work permit – this is regardless of if you are employed in the private, public or third sector. Depending on the nature of your work and the country you are travelling to, additional documents may also be required such as xxyyzz. For more information, visit:

3. Use GOV.UK (Check how to export goods tool) to look up information on overseas tariffs, rules and border formalities for trading your goods worldwide

From January 2021, there will be new requirements for how you export goods from the UK. Use the ‘Check How to Export Goods’ service on GOV.UK to check duties and customs procedures for exporting your goods worldwide. Use the service at:

4. Check if Import VAT is due at the border

From January 2021, if you import any goods from the EU into Great Britain you may need to pay Import VAT

Import VAT will not be due at the border if goods in a consignment are worth less than £135. The only exception to this is consignments containing excise goods, where Import VAT (along with Excise and Customs duties where applicable) will be due at the border. For more information go to

5. Apply due diligence to export/import timber from UK to EU to meet legal harvest requirements

From 1 January 2021, you may need to prove any timber you import or export timber between the UK and EU/EEA has been legally harvested. Due diligence checks will be required if you import timber from the EU and EEA, and documentation about the source and legality of your timber will be required for exporting timber to the EU or EEA. More information is available at: