Guidance for UK businesses trading internationally

1. DIT support for UK businesses trading internationally


This advice is for UK businesses that export or deliver goods and services abroad and have been impacted by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It includes:

  • DIT support for UK business trading internationally
  • financial support for business trading internationally


DIT can support businesses by:

  • providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of their products
  • offering advice on intellectual property and other issues with business continuity

British businesses that may face disruption due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) can visit the dedicated business support website for more information.

This team will discuss the challenges faced by UK businesses at home and overseas to understand how best the department can support them.

Read more on COVID-19 support for businesses from the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy.

1.1 Supply chains affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)

If your supply chain has been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), DIT can help you to find alternative suppliers. The department has relationships with a global network of businesses across the world and will be able to advise you on the options available.

If you have an advisory or professional services firm that can help UK companies to find alternative suppliers, visit the dedicated business support website for more information.


1.2 International support for businesses involved in overseas projects

If you are operating projects in other countries, follow local guidance and speak to your nearest UK embassy or consulate. Alternatively, you can read the general advice on Overseas Business Risk in the relevant country.

 

2. Financial support for British businesses trading internationally


The Chancellor announced (17 March 2020) an unprecedented package of government-backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses, making available an initial £330bn of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of GDP.

This was on top of a series of measures announced at Budget 2020, where the government announced £30 billion of additional support for public services, individuals and businesses experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.

On 20 March 2020, the Chancellor announced a further workers’ support package to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to coronavirus. A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be set up to help pay people’s wages; Universal Credit and tax credits will also be increased as part of an almost £7 billion welfare boost; and to ease cash flow pressures for UK VAT registered businesses, VAT bills from now until the end of June, will be deferred until the end of the tax year.

 

Your business may be able to get support to lessen the cost or financial effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) through:

  • the business interruption loan scheme from the British Business Bank as part of the Enable Finance Guarantee
  • changes to Statutory Sick Pay
  • the UK-wide Time to Pay – scheme for tax payment relief for businesses and self-employed people
  • an increase in the Business Rates Retail Discount in England to 100% for a year, now expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors
  • cash support to all business in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) and funding for Local Authorities in England to support businesses that pay little or no business rates because of SBRR or Rural Rates Relief
  • the temporary lowering of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for Universal Credit for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating following government advice
  • Cash grants of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.


2.1 Financial support for exporters

UK Export Finance (UKEF) works with banks and insurance brokers to help companies of all sizes fulfil and get paid for export contracts. It provides guarantees, loans and insurance on behalf of the government that can protect UK exporters facing delayed payments or transit restrictions. Help from UKEF:

  • if your business is facing disruption due to late payments, UKEF can help ease cash flow constraints by guaranteeing bank loans through its Export Working Capital Scheme
  • if you are concerned about getting paid, UKEF offers an export insurance policy that can help you recover the costs of fulfilling an order that is terminated by events outside your control
  • UKEF can also support finance for overseas buyers through the Direct Lending Facility scheme, so they can continue to buy your goods and services
  • UKEF has over £4 billion of capacity to support UK firms exporting to China, as well as significant capacity across other markets affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to help cover these risks.


To find out if UKEF covers your region, email customer.service@ukexportfinance.gov.uk


2.2 International business travel

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers the latest advice about travelling abroad, including the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19), safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.


2.3 DIT coronavirus (COVID-19) business support contacts

If you have questions on international trade and coronavirus (COVID-19) email COVID19@trade.gov.uk

There are DIT offices around the world that can offer advice to businesses specific to your region or country. Contact your local embassy for further information.


3. Government coronavirus (COVID-19) advice and support


The Government has set out a COVID-19 Action Plan to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak based on our experience of dealing with other infectious diseases and our influenza pandemic preparedness work.


Guidance for UK employers and businesses from the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy offers information on healthcare advice for employers and support for UK businesses.


Public Health England and the Department for Health and Social Care have up-to-date information on the virus for health professionals and other organisations.

 

[Last updated 12:01 on Wednesday 25th March 2020 from gov.uk website]