1. Great Britain to Northern Ireland: one customs territory


As the UK Government set out in its Command Paper, The UK’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol, there will be some changes for goods movements into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

The UK as a whole will leave the EU’s customs union and Northern Ireland will remain unequivocally part of the UK’s customs territory.

That means:

  • no new customs infrastructure required to be built in Northern Ireland (or in Great Britain ports facing Northern Ireland)
  • no export or exit declarations for goods leaving Great Britain for Northern Ireland
  • processes will be fully digital and eligible to be facilitated by the Trader Support Service
  • the regime will be administered by UK authorities - meaning a minimal proportion of checks only as required by the levels of risk
  • the UK Government position remains that there should be no tariffs payable on all internal UK trade, and in any case, full use will be made of waivers and reimbursements to minimise the impact on business in any scenario
  • an end-to-end Trader Support Service available at no costs to all businesses who wish to use it


HOWEVER: Northern Ireland will remain aligned with EU regulations. When and if they will diverge from the GB regulations, you will have to ensure your product comply with the rules of the market where it is commercialised. (note from BAMA)


2. Great Britain to Northern Ireland: digital declarations


The Protocol entails some new administrative processes for traders, notably new digital import declaration requirements, and digital safety and security information, for goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. These processes, which will be administered by UK authorities in the form of HMRC and Border Force, are needed to make sure that tariffs are not paid on trade within the UK, that Northern Ireland can benefit from UK FTAs, and that goods destined for Ireland and the EU (i.e. at a genuine and substantial risk of doing so) pay tariffs when they should.

The UK Government has been clear that there should be no tariffs on internal UK trade; and that in any case, full use will be made of waivers and reimbursements to minimise the impact on business in any scenario. The Protocol requires a UK-EU Joint Committee decision on the application of tariffs on ‘at risk’ goods moving into Northern Ireland. Full details will be provided subsequent to that decision; but for these purposes, it is important to note that the ultimate destination of goods and whether, for example, traders will be selling them in Northern Ireland or moving them on to Ireland/the EU, will become relevant in the future.

These digital processes will be streamlined and simplified to the maximum extent, and will not require any export declaration, exit declaration, or customs and regulatory clearance for goods as they leave the rest of the UK for Northern Ireland. Furthermore, the new Trader Support Service will ensure that the process is straightforward even for businesses who have not previously engaged with customs, and that no direct costs are incurred.

Traders who wish to make use of the service should sign up for further information. Further information is provided on the following pages.


3. Great Britain to Northern Ireland: Trader Support Service


The UK Government will establish a new, free service, the Trader Support Service (TSS), which will record electronic information on goods movements so that traders do not have to engage with new digital customs systems or processes. This service will deal with formalities (such as import declarations and safety and security information) on behalf of traders, providing unprecedented support for Northern Ireland business.

Initially traders will be able to register with the service and receive support and guidance on what the Protocol means for them. This will include the steps they need to take to comply with them (including getting an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number). Traders will also be supported to understand the information they will need to collect about their goods, including their description, value and any supporting documentation required.

The service will then use this information to complete import and safety and security declarations on behalf of traders. Where a trader uses the TSS to complete these they will not need to access HMRC systems, such as CDS or ICS, themselves.

A procurement exercise for these services has now been launched and the service will be operational from September allowing it to support traders to prepare for the end of the transition period.

It will be able to help all traders, regardless of size and at no additional cost, to move their goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and to import goods into Northern Ireland from the rest of the world.

This will be an optional service for any Northern Ireland business wishing to bring in goods from Great Britain or the rest of the world.

The UK Government will also be engaging with businesses and other stakeholders on further Government support that could be provided to address the new requirements on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Further information on any support here will be provided in the light of that engagement.

For traders who already engage with customs systems, or who wish to undertake any necessary procedures separately, guidance on the requirements are detailed further below.

This guidance may be subject to further updates in the light of developments in the UK-EU Joint Committee or other discussions. This is highlighted where relevant.

In the meantime, all traders who wish to draw upon the support of the Trader Support Service can sign up for further information.


4. Great Britain to Northern Ireland: other requirements


4.1 Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number

An EORI number is required for all businesses who need to manage customs operations with HMRC. Further information, including a link to apply for an EORI number, is available. VAT registered businesses with EU trade were previously enrolled with an EORI number, so should check whether they already have a number before applying.


4.2 Tariffs

The UK Government has been clear that there should be no tariffs on internal UK trade; and that in any case, full use will be made of waivers and reimbursements to minimise the impact on business in any scenario. The Protocol sets out that there must be a UK-EU Joint Committee decision on the application of tariffs to ‘at risk’ goods moving into Northern Ireland, and that decision will inform the final regime that applies. Full details will therefore be provided subsequent to that decision.


4.3 Simplifications and facilitations

Where customs procedures apply there are a number of facilitations available that will make processes smoother for traders choosing not to use the Trader Support Service, including simplified declarations for import and authorised economic operators.

Businesses can use Customs Special Procedures to suspend, reduce or claim relief on the payment of customs duties and VAT under specified conditions. Special procedures include customs warehousing, inward processing, outward processing, temporary admission and authorised end use.

It is recognised that this system of facilitations will need to take account of the regime that will apply for the application of tariffs to ‘at risk’ goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. As such, further guidance may be provided following the UK-EU Joint Committee decision in that regard. In the meantime, further information on these and other facilitations available is on gov.uk


4.4 Transit

The UK has successfully negotiated membership of the Common Transit Convention after the end of the transition period. Common Transit allows the movement of goods under duty suspension until they reach their final destination. Traders will only have to make customs declarations and pay import duties on arrival at their final destination. Safety and security requirements will still need to be met.

The use of transit can provide benefits for traders in particular for movements that cross multiple territories, such as those movements which use the UK as a landbridge to move between continental Europe and the island of Ireland. Recognising the importance of that route for goods movements, specific discussions are ongoing as to the transit requirements for that trade.

Further guidance will be provided on transit movements.


4.5 Hauliers

(please refer to the whole document, if this aspect is of interest: link provided at the bottom of this article)


4.6 Non-freight

Any requirements for goods in luggage, Royal Mail and parcels are still under consideration. Further guidance will be set out in due course.


4.7 VAT and Excise

The Protocol means that Northern Ireland maintains alignment on some administrative processes included within the EU VAT and excise rules for goods. Northern Ireland is, and will remain, part of the UK’s VAT and excise system, reflecting the fact that each jurisdiction across Europe already operates separate VAT and excise regimes. HMRC will continue to be responsible for the operation and collection of the revenues, which will not be passed on to the EU. The Protocol notes that implementation will take into account Northern Ireland’s integral place in the UK’s internal market. The Government is confident that we can use the flexibilities available, in the context of the wider commitments to Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market, to implement these aspects of the Protocol in a way which minimises new costs and burdens on businesses in Northern Ireland. As this is subject to ongoing consultation and discussion, further guidance will be set out on the application of VAT and excise rules for goods in Northern Ireland in due course.


(to access the whole document CLICK HERE)


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