The UK and EU Relationship

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020 following the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement ('deal'), which included the provisions under the Northern Ireland Protocol, giving start to the transition period.  During this transition period, which lasted between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2020, the UK was no longer part of the European Union and its institutions but remained in the EU Single Market and the Customs Union.  The transition period allowed the UK and the EU to establish a negotiation for a Free Trade Agreement, which concluded on the 24 December 2020 with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement providing a legal background for the future relationship of both parties. 

In the time leading up to the UK exit from the EU, as well as during the transition period, CTPA engaged with Members and the wider industry, the UK Government and stakeholders at the UK and EU level to secure the best possible outcome for the cosmetics sector.  CTPA also provided support to the industry in the form of up-to-date advice and events giving detail on the evolving nature of the negotiations and future UK regulatory landscape.  Now, with the UK exit process completed, the advice which remains and is still applicable is in relation to the UK regulatory framework as established through the relevant legislation.  This section is intended to highlight the nature of the current relationship between the UK and EU with regards to the cosmetics industry, as well as some of the remaining transitional provisions still in place. 

Transitional Provisions

Goods on the Market

Article 41 of the EU Withdrawal Agreement states that goods placed on the EU27 or UK markets before the end of the transition period may be further made available and circulate between the two markets until they reach the end consumer.  Proof of when the goods were placed on the market will be required.  For the definition of 'placing on the market' and 'making available on the market', please consult the Blue Guide.

Labelling of Cosmetic Products

Article 19 of the UK Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 (UKCR) states that with regards to the labelling of the Responsible Person address, for a period of two years from the day after the UK exit from the EU, the UK requirements will be considered satisfied where EU compliance is achieved.  In practice, this means that a product originating from the EU bearing an EU Responsible Person name and address on label may still be made available in the UK market until 31 December 2022 provided all other UK requirements are fulfilled. 


Aerosol products placed on the market in the UK will have to bear the UKCA marking on the product label in order to comply with the UK Aerosols Dispensers Regulation 2009 as amended by Schedule 13 of the Product Safety and Metrology etc.  (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.  The transitional provisions allowing for the change from the use of the reverse epsilon, a requirement under the EU, into the UKCA marking will run until 1 January 2027. 

The UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. 

The UK and EU settled negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement in December 2020.  The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) was the result of the expressed ambitions from both parties to complete an agreement that protects the trade and regulatory relationship in the long term, built on the understanding that both parties require freedom to operate with sovereignty and establish frameworks and legal mechanisms necessary to enhance and protect their individual interests. 

The TCA established a legal basis for the future relationship between the UK and EU, including aspects such as trade tariffs and rules of origin, movement of goods and people, intellectual property, technical barriers to trade and other sectorial considerations such as chemicals.  The UK Government has made further resources available in order to give a better understanding of the implications of the TCA, including Summary of the UK’s new relationship with the EU. 

Tariffs and Rules of Origin

The TCA includes the agreement to have a complete tariff liberalisation, which means that there are no tariffs or quotas appliable to the movement of goods between the UK and EU where the Rules of Origin have been met.  However, the VAT and excise rules that apply to goods coming into or leaving the UK from or to EU countries and non-EU countries are now the same.  For UK products entering the EU market, even if the movement will not be subject to tariffs, there might still be a requirement to ensure that VAT and other applicable taxes or duties are paid.

Goods which do not conform to the requirements included in the Rules of Origin in the TCA, and which cannot be considered as originating from another territory with an existing Free Trade Agreement will be subject to:

Products originating from countries considered as developing nations under WTO rules will have a different applicable tariff in the UK and EU

Border Operating Model

On 13 July, the UK Government published the ‘Border Operating Model’, a guidance explaining how the EU/GB border will operate from 1 January 2021.  The guidance covers in detail the phased plan for imports into GB and exporting goods to the EU, whilst also covering roles and responsibilities for these tasks.

  • Both imports and exports into and from GB will require customs declarations.
  • Applicable tariffs under the UK Global Tariffs will have to be paid on goods imported into the UK (however, if an FTA with the EU will be in place, tariffs may not apply).
  • VAT will be levied on imports of goods from the EU, following the same rates and structures as are applied to Rest of the World imports.
  • Safety and security declarations may be needed for specific types of goods.
  • Additional requirements may apply only to specific goods (e.g.  foodstuff, goods covered by International Convention CITES, excise goods).

This guidance continues to be updated with any relevant developments.