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Mini Cooper Drivers May Face Mighty Shock of New Brexit Rules

Mini Coopers at a plant in Cowley near Oxford, U.K.

Mini Coopers at a plant in Cowley near Oxford, U.K.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

U.K. companies seeking to export their wares to the European Union will have to prove the origin of their goods to qualify for duty-free access under any potential post-Brexit free-trade agreement — a bureaucratic headache that’s about to menace 150 billion pounds ($195 billion) of goods.

The end of Britain’s customs union with the EU means U.K. firms will have to comply with so-called rules of origin to trade with nations in the region once the Brexit transition period ends on Dec. 31. Many have never had to identify the share of their exports that’s produced domestically, and if they can’t do it they’ll have to pay tariffs on goods shipped to the EU.