Brexit overview

Find out what the United Kingdom leaving the European Union means for New Zealand.

The Brexit process

The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. From February to December 2020, the UK traded as if it was an EU member state during a "transition period", which ended on 31 December 2020.

On 24 December 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom concluded the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The Agreement provisionally came into effect on 1 January 2021.

On 25 December 2020, the New Zealand Government welcomed the announcement of the UK / EU agreement(external link) on their future relationship.

New Zealand has strong relationships with both the EU and UK and these will continue.

If you have questions or concerns about how Brexit and the future relationship between the UK and EU may impact your business, email us on or call  us on 0800 824 605.

New "EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement" came into effect on 1 January 2021

The UK’s transitional relationship with the EU ended on 31 December 2020.

On 24 December 2020, the UK and EU reached an agreement on the terms of their future relationship (Read the European Commission statement(external link) and the United Kingdom statement(external link)).

The objective of the transition period was to allow the UK and EU time to negotiate the terms of their future trade arrangements (i.e. a trade deal) and their broader political and security relationship. 

During this period, the UK remained in the EU customs union and single market. Existing UK-EU trading arrangements continued and the UK remained subject to EU rules and regulations.

With the UK remaining a part of the EU trading bloc, New Zealand’s trade with the UK continued as though it were still an EU member.

During this period, the situation for New Zealanders living, travelling and doing business in the UK and EU largely remained unchanged. From 1 January 2021, there will be some changes, even though an agreement between the EU and UK was reached. But these changes will hopefully occur with as little disruption as possible.

The UK and EU have both issued guidance outlining the impacts that the end of the UK’s transition period will have on businesses and individuals.

Advancing New Zealand's interests

The UK and EU are, and will remain, close and important partners for New Zealand.

Throughout the Brexit process, the New Zealand Government closely followed the UK and EU future relationship negotiations, to ensure New Zealand’s interests were advanced and protected.

The government has engaged at all levels with decision-makers in the UK and the EU system, particularly on trade and economic matters. This preparation is set out in a statement by the Minister for Trade and Export Growth(external link), Hon Damien O'Connor, on 20 December 2020.

Our aim has been to ensure that we minimise any disruption to New Zealand individuals and businesses that might be affected by the post-Brexit changes, and that New Zealand is no worse off as a result of the changes.

We have been working to protect our current market access arrangements, including quota access into both the EU and UK post-Brexit. A ministerial statement(external link) containing more detail on this was issued on 1 February 2019.

New Zealand's free trade agreement (FTA) with the UK entered into force on 31 May 2023.


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