Doing business in the UK after Brexit


On the 1st of January 2021, the transition period, which was agreed upon in the UK – EU withdrawal agreement, expired. Since, a different set of rules has been applied to the UK as the country is no longer an EU member. This includes extensive custom procedures, which governs the trade between two parties.

The EU and the UK have agreed upon a free trade agreement. This have led to both new challenges and opportunities for Swedish companies, who need to formulate their strategies with this new reality in mind, if they want to remain competitive in the UK market.

Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR)

The European Commission has established the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) to help soften the negative economic impact of Brexit. The purpose of the reserve is to support companies and government agencies who have been adversely impacted by the economic, territorial and social consequences of Brexit. The support relates to costs incurred during the period 2020-2023. Sweden has been administered EUR 137 million and the Swedish ESF Council will announce several fundings in different categories.

The Swedish ESF Council

The Swedish ESF Council (Rådet för Europeiska Socialfonden) was formed in 2000. While the European Social Fund is an important tool of the EU to promote aims through different funds, the central ESF Council finances different projects that work to reduce unemployment, increase Sweden’s internal skill provision and increase the unity within the EU as a whole.

BAR: three target segments

The BAR is targeted at companies and authorities that have suffered negative impacts due to Brexit. The three target segments are:

  1. Companies (excluding those in the fisheries industry), which are able to apply for funding for support for the following:
    a. Consultancy and guidance services
    b. Direct costs for approval and product labelling
    c. Costs for participation at fairs with the aim of establishing or growing sales in new markets (if the lack of market presence is due to Brexit)
  2. Support for investments into port infrastructure, if the infrastructure is necessary for the Swedish state and its responsibility to exercise its authority, and is related to Brexit
  3. State authorities can also apply for support and funding for costs incurred as a consequence of Brexit.

The application process

The Swedish ESF Council have detailed the following steps through which actors can apply for funding. The steps, detailed below, can also be found on the Swedish ESF Council’s website.

  1. Identify the appropriate call for applications right time to apply (different sums from the BAR will be available to apply for by some actors during certain times and based on certain criteria).
  2. Ensure you understand the application criteria (in Swedish) prior to starting the application.
  3. Consult the available governing documents (in addition to the call for applications). There are two ruling conditions for the BAR, which will be found on Swedish ESF Council’s website.
  4. Complete your application on the Swedish ESF Council’s digital service “Projektrummet”. Take note of the different application deadlines.
  5. Send in your application to the Swedish ESF Council.

Business Sweden support

Business Sweden offers several services to help Swedish companies establish themselves and grow in international markets. With a focus on the UK and the transition after Brexit, tailored support options include:

  1. Establishment support: support in deciding on measures needed to secure UK operations post Brexit
  2. Import and trade support: training and upskilling on customs procedures and trade rules between Sweden and the UK
  3. Business to Government: policy monitoring, including identifying new opportunities relating to UK government initiatives
  4. Market entry: analysis of new suitable sales channels that have arisen and how to effectively reach targeted customer bases following Brexit
  5. Sales partner selection: analysis and selection of relevant partners within the chosen route to market
  6. Logistics and warehousing: support in finding suitable options for logistics and warehousing setups post Brexit.


Key perspectives from leading Swedish companies in the UK market

Basic guide to exporting to the UK as a third country

Rules governing export to third countries differ significantly from those governing trade within the EU customs union. Selling goods to UK is considered as export to a third country outside the EU customs area. In our guide you can read about the rules that apply to exports outside of the EU (in Swedish).

Even with a trade deal between EU and UK, the conditions trading with UK, not being a EU.member, are significantly different compared to before. The custom procedures and the trade deal itself comes with a whole set of rules for the companies to comply with.Mats Söderström, Trade and Customs Advisor, Trade Facilitation, Business Sweden
Mats Söderström
Companies that want to remain competitive in the UK need to continuously monitor changes to post-Brexit legislation and reformulate their strategies Gustaf Bergström, Trade & Invest Commissioner, UK & Ireland, Business Sweden
Gustaf Bergström
Mats Söderström & Gustaf Bergström


Our FAQ page is your go-to destination for questions related to trade impacts from Brexit. Want to know how taxation will be affected next year or how to recruit staff? Find out if your question has already been answered.

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Robin Bängs

Senior Project Manager, London

Gustaf Bergström

Trade & Invest Commissioner UK & Ireland

Business Sweden can be your feet on the ground in extraordinary times. Our global team has a unique, government-backed mandate to provide support services that help you plan for contingency action, avoid disruption and engage with customers around the clock – wherever they are located. Jan Larsson, President & CEO, Business Sweden