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The decision to leave the European Union was taken on 23 June 2016, with 56.5% of voters in Cornwall voting to leave. This has and will impact upon a number of industries and policy areas across Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. That's why ‘Brexit Ready Cornwall’ is a key component of the Council’s ‘Democratic Cornwall’  priority.

A Brexit deal on the UK's exit from the EU (the 'Withdrawal Agreement') has now been agreed. This meant that the UK left the EU on 31 January and entered a transition period without any sudden changes to current rules or processes. During this period the UK and EU have been meeting to negotiate a future deal. The transition period is due to end on 31 December 2020.

On this page you will find information on what the Council has been doing to prepare for Brexit, including how we're engaging with Government to stand up for Cornwall as it develops new post-Brexit policy.

If you need help completing your EU Settlement Scheme application, we can support you with the ID verification part of the process with our EU Settlement Scheme ID scanning service. If you or someone you know needs more support, you can also contact Inclusion Cornwall for guidance. Find out more detail below.

The UK and the EU have now reached a deal on how the UK will leave the EU (the 'Withdrawal Agreement'). This means that the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020. However this will be without any sudden changes to current rules or processes.

What is happening now?

The UK left the EU on 31 January and entered into a 'transition period' for 11 months where the UK is outside of the EU political institutions but still complies with EU rules and regulations.

During the transition period, the UK and the EU have been negotiating their future relationship, including how they will trade with one another.

What does it mean for me?

You can continue to travel freely to and from the EU as before during the transition period.

Businesses will not need to follow new processes during the transition period to trade with the EU, regulations will stay the same, and you can continue to apply for European Funding. Businesses may need to take steps to prepare for changes at the end of the transition period.

The rights of our European residents will also stay the same until 2021. You may need to apply to Government's EU Settlement to stay in the UK after June 2021 (see the 'EU Settlement Scheme' section below). But regardless of whether you have obtained or applied for a settlement status, you will continue to have a right to stay and access public services after 31 January, up until 2021. 

When does the transition period end?

The transition period is due to end on 31 December 2020.

Is 'no deal' possible at the end of the transition period?

If an agreement on the future relationship is not made by the end of 2020, there may be a ‘no (trade) deal’ outcome at that point.

A 'no deal' in this situation is not the same as that which would have occurred if a withdrawal agreement not been reached. In this case, citizens’ rights would be protected under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. There would also be time to seek agreement on data and transport flows.

However, trade and security cooperation would still be affected. Great Britain would trade under World Trade Organisation terms. This means there would be tariffs and checks for trade with the EU.

How is the Council preparing for a 'no deal' outcome?

Cornwall Council has been engaged in a large range of activity to prepare us for Brexit ever since the referendum result.

This included extensive work to prepare the Council for a possible 'no deal' outcome. We have worked alongside partners across the South West to 'Brexit proof' well-established resilience measures for a range of possible outcomes.

We also provided extensive 'how to prepare for no deal' guidance on these pages for our residents.

We are currently reviewing our arrangements for December 2020. This is to ensure that we remain prepared.

Photos of people happy after completing EU Settlement Scheme

Whatever happens, our European residents and their families will continue to be valued members of our community who we hope will continue to call Cornwall their home.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

If you’re a citizen of the European Union (EU), Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you and your family will be able to apply to get either settled or pre-settled status. This will mean you can continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.

You will not need to apply to the scheme if:

  • you’re an Irish citizen
  • you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • you have indefinite leave to enter the UK

Your family members from outside the UK and Ireland will still need to apply even if you do not need to.

The scheme is free to apply to, and the ID checker app is available on both Android and iPhone devices.

When do I need to apply?

The scheme is open now for you to apply to. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

The rights and status of currently resident EU citizens and their family members will remain the same as now from 31 January until 2021 - including those who have yet to apply for, or receive, a settlement status.

How do I apply?

Full guidance on how to apply is available on Government's EU Settlement Scheme page. The leaflets and video below also provide a simple overview. Guidance is also available in a wide range of languages.

How do I use the ID document checker app?

To complete your application, you will need to prove your identity. You can use the ID document checker mobile phone app to do this, using an Android or an Apple device.

You can read guidance on how to use the ID checker app, or view the video below for instructions.

If you cannot use the app, Cornwall Council can help. We can scan your documents so that you don't have to send them in the post. Find out more about our ID scanning service.

How can I get support to apply?

There is a national call centre available should you need it, and support for those who need digital skills support.

If you need additional support or guidance, we have partnered with Inclusion Cornwall to help you. They can refer you to local support organisations if your application is more complex. You can contact them on 01872 326440, or by emailing

Get support making an application from Inclusion Cornwall


You may be able to complete the application digitally using an Android or iPhone device. But if you cannot, we can help you scan your documents so that you don't have to send them in the post. Find out more about our ID Scanning Service.

Find out more about our ID scanning service

What happens to my rights on January 31 2020?

When the UK leaves the EU on January 31, it will enter a 'transition period' during which existing rules and processes will remain the same for 11 months until the end of 2020.

Regardless of whether you have obtained or applied for a settlement status, you will therefore continue to have a right to stay and access public services after 31 January until 2021 - including access to public funds, social housing and homelessness support, benefits and pensions, and free NHS care.

There will also be no changes to your right to rent or right to work, nor any changes to how you may need to prove that right – meaning that you are not required to prove your status under the EU Settlement Scheme until 2021. This means that you can continue to use the same documents that you use now to prove your rights.

Safe and welcoming communities

We know that Cornwall will continue to be a warm and welcoming place to our European friends, family and colleagues who have made Cornwall their home. But we must also recognise that some people may use EU exit as an excuse for discriminatory behaviour.

In part this is about ensuring that the continued rights and status of our European citizens are understood. But in addition, we all need to say NO to hate crime if it occurs. We must work to encourage the reporting of hate crime, and to ensure that victims and their families are supported.  It is important that if you experience, see or know about hate crime in your community, you should report it.

Devon and Cornwall Police have a range of useful information and materials, including a leaflet for the zero tolerance campaign

Leaving the EU will mean most UK businesses should expect change. There will be new arrangements and changes in law for trading with EU and non-EU countries.

Government's checker tool provides the best starting point for thinking about what you may need to do. You could also use the Chamber of Commerce Brexit Business Checklist.

Alternatively, you might consider finding information on the following issues: 

Priority actions

There are 9 immediate actions you can take:

  1. Register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number
  2. Decide if you want to hire an agent to make import and/or export declarations for you or if you want to make these declarations yourself (by buying software that interacts with HMRC’s systems, registering for the National Export System). Customs intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations can now apply for grants to support training and IT.
  3. Contact the organisation that moves your goods (for example, a haulage firm) to find out if you will need to supply additional information to them - and make sure drivers understand the documents they need at the border.
  4. Ensure you are aware of the new import procedures.
  5. Confirm if you need licences or certificates to bring your goods across the border.
  6. Be aware of changes to the way you account for VAT on imports.
  7. Check for updates on tariffs that apply to your goods, and consider using duty relief schemes
  8. Ensure you're prepared to allow any personal data flows from Europe to continue after EU exit.
  9. Signpost your European employees to the EU Settlement Scheme.

It is also recommended that you discuss preparations with customers and suppliers - including responsibilities and Incoterms - and that you tell your employees about changes to passport rules.

Getting support in Cornwall:

Other sources of sector-specific guidance:

The Chamber of Commerce collates a useful list of sector-specific guidance.

Further information or support is also available from:

Stay up to date

You can be alerted to further information by registering for HMRC’s EU Exit update service.

New Frontiers

As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, with the rest of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Leadership Board, we have created New Frontiers, our post-Brexit plan. New Frontiers is currently being reviewed by government to help accelerate our regional development economically, environmentally and socially. It will support a local economy that works for everyone, and will help build global industries, grow skills and wages and protect our heritage and environment.

New Frontiers is a series of requests of Government, structured around three sections:

Post-Brexit frameworks designed to support all sectors of our economy, our environment and our society, and to enable us to flourish beyond Brexit:

Developing our distinctive strengths as a rural Industrial Strategy pilot in:

Devolved powers and funding which will build on and subsequently add to our existing Deal:

Each section contains a series of propositions which articulate a strong local ‘offer’. This is alongside our ‘ask’ of national government, to unlock clearly defined ‘benefits'. We are now engaged in dialogue with Government to discuss these proposals further.

Brexit Summit

On July 15 2016, shortly after the referendum result was announced, Cornwall Council and the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro, hosted a Brexit Summit. This invited leaders across the public, private and voluntary sectors of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to come together to discuss the impacts and opportunities of the decison.

A group was formed following this summit called the ‘Futures Group’. This group was tasked with developing a proposition for a new domestically-funded economic investment programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It was also tasked with reinforcing the clear messages coming out of the Summit on promoting community cohesion and underlining that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is open for business.

The Futures Group also organised a programme of roundtable discussions in November and December 2016. These were to gauge the views of businesses and policy practitioners on the implications, risks and opportunities of Brexit for key sectors in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The evidence report on the findings of the roundtable discussions was published. You can read this as ‘A Catalyst for Change: Implications, Risks and Opportunities of Brexit for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’.

Catalyst for Change

A second Brexit Summit took place on 2 February 2017. This was hosted by Cornwall Council and the Rt Revd Chris Goldsmith, Bishop of St Germans. This Summit received a progress report from the Futures Group on its work since July. It also discussed the next steps in terms of preparing Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly for Brexit.

We are standing up for Cornwall by continuously engaging with Government. We are doing this through our MPs, ministers, and civil servants. This has included hosting a roundtable discussion on the implications of Brexit for the South West with the Department of Communities and Local Government, and a discussion with the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP and Steve Baker MP.

We also welcomed the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee to Cornwall. The Committee Chairman Hilary Benn MP and MPs John Whittingdale and Alistair Burt were hearing evidence about the implications for Cornwall to inform their inquiry. You can watch the session online.

More recently, we've also hosted visits from several ministers. These included the Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State Chris Grayling MP, and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss. 

We’ve also used our connections through the CIPFA Brexit Advisory Commission, and lead the formation of an Intermediate Body network. This is to strengthen our voice in partnership to influence the shape of replacements for European funding.

Our leadership on local authority Brexit preparations has recently been acknowledged through the appointment of the Council's Chief Executive to the Government's Local Government Brexit Advisory panel.


Cornwall Council and the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly LEP commissioned research on the economic and social impacts of European Economic Area (EEA) workers in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. You can read the final report which was completed in October 2017.

We have also recently conducted an anlysis of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly's trade profile. This was to establish a better understanding of our trade patterns to help us prepare for a post-Brexit trading regime. You can read a summary or the full report.

We have continued to submit responses to various consultations, including oral evidence to the Commons Select Committee for Exiting the EU. Written responses can be found on our Government Consultations page. These provide an evidence-base from which to understand our current position and enable informed influence of future Government policy related to Brexit on issues including:

Cornwall's Brussels Office also provides a valuable vantage point from Brussels. This is supported by the Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership, and Combined Universities in Cornwall. Located at the heart of EU decision making, it represents the interests of Cornwall in Brussels through policy influence, intelligence and profile.