How Brexit will affect business depends on whether the United Kingdom (UK) leaves the European Union (EU) with a deal, or no deal.


While the UK is in the "transition period", until the end of 2020, there will be no change to the rules covering our trade and investment, or people-to-people links with the UK and EU, while the UK remains a member of the EU.

Both the UK and EU have issued advice about how to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal, which remains a possibility on 1 January 2021, if the implementation period lapses without an extension or a future trade and security/political agreement in place.

A 'no-deal' scenario

UK Government advice

The UK Government has issued technical notes to help businesses and individuals understand the implications for them of a ‘no-deal’ scenario. These notes are updated regularly, and cover a range of specific areas. We encourage you to read these notes, sign up for the alerts, and get in touch if you think they might have implications for you.

These cover a range of topics, including:

  • importing and exporting
  • product labelling and product safety
  • travelling between the UK and the EU
  • taxation
  • regulation of medicines and medical equipment
  • workplace rights
  • applying for EU-funded programmes
  • civil nuclear and nuclear research
  • farming
  • driving
  • state aid.

Read the UK government's guide to preparing for Brexit here (external link), and its guidelines for a no-deal Brexit here (external link).  

EU advice

The EU Commission and EU Member States have published Preparedness Notices (external link) which identify the consequences of a UK withdrawal without an agreement.

Importing to and exporting from the UK and EU

New Zealand businesses may in particular want to review the guidance on importing to and exporting from the UK and the EU under a ‘no-deal’ scenario. Find helpful information here (external link).

Businesses and individuals may want to consider seeking legal advice and/or engaging a migration agent, customs broker, freight forwarder or logistics provider to support in preparing for all eventualities, including a ‘no-deal’ scenario.

Residency, education and work

Individuals may wish to consider how a ‘no-deal’ scenario could affect them, with regard to residency, education and employment.

Find out more about how Brexit might affect New Zealanders living, working and travelling in the UK or EU

How will Brexit affect trade?

Between NZ and the UK; and NZ and rest of the EU

New Zealand is committed to negotiating a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as early as possible once the UK is in a position to do so. The UK Government identified New Zealand as a priority for free trade agreement negotiations following its departure from the EU. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker held talks with UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss in July 2019 to discuss a future trade deal between the UK and New Zealand. Read more about this meeting here (external link).

Read more information about future UK-New Zealand trade negotiations.

In the meantime, the same rules will apply to our trade with both the UK and the EU until the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

These include the range of areas incorporated in the EU’s commitments under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which cover the UK. These WTO commitments include Tariff Rate Quotas that provide access for important New Zealand exports, such as certain meat, dairy and horticultural products.

The UK and EU have initiated separate formal processes in Geneva to split the EU’s current WTO bound tariff-rate quotas post Brexit. In January 2019, the EU Parliament adopted a domestic regulation to implement these proposed reductions unilaterally should the EU choose to do so, in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario. Read these proposals, together with the submissions lodged by concerned WTO Members, here (external link).

New Zealand and other quota holders have made clear that this approach would not be acceptable, as it would reduce exporters’ current access, including by removing their flexibility to respond to changes in market demand between the UK and the EU27 markets.

Read more about the government’s approach to tariff-rate quotas here (external link).  

What will happen to the EU-NZ free trade agreement?

Negotiations towards an EU-NZ free trade agreement will continue without the UK after it leaves the EU. We launched these negotiations in June 2018 and negotiators met for a sixth round in Wellington in December 2019.

Read more about EU-NZ free trade agreement negotiations.

More information

The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise website has more information about Brexit: 

Treasury has also prepared a report on how a 'no-deal' Brexit might impact New Zealand (external link).

Brexit and customs 

Find out what Brexit means for New Zealand-UK customs on the New Zealand Customs Service website (external link)

Brexit and the primary sector

The Ministry for Primary Industries also has information specific to these sectors here (external link).

Summary of public submissions on Brexit

Following the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the EU, the New Zealand Government called for submissions from businesses which trade with, or invest in the United Kingdom. The call for submissions was made in August 2016 and ran until October 2016. 

Read a summary of these submissions.


We will update this page as more information is received. This is not intended to be, nor should it be relied upon, as a substitute for legal or other professional advice.

Contact us

If you have questions or concerns about how Brexit may impact on you, contact us on

Or for urgent export related enquiries, call 0800 824 605.