Guidance

Apply for authorisation for the UK Trader Scheme if you bring goods into Northern Ireland

Find out how to get authorised to declare goods you bring into Northern Ireland not ‘at risk’ of moving to the EU so that EU duty will not be payable on those goods.

From 1 January 2021, if you bring goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain or a country outside of the EU, you may be liable to pay EU customs duty.

If you intend to bring goods into Northern Ireland which you know are not ‘at risk’ of moving to the EU, then you can apply for authorisation under the UK Trader Scheme.

If your goods are not ‘at risk’ then you will either pay:

  • zero duty if moving goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain
  • UK duty if moving goods from a country outside the EU

If you do not have experience in customs or would like to find out more information, you can register with the Trader Support Service to support you with this process.

Who can apply

To apply you must be either:

  • established in Northern Ireland
  • established elsewhere in the UK and
    • your customs operations are carried out in the UK
    • you have a fixed place of business in Northern Ireland, for example, a branch or a store where goods are sold to, or provided for final use by, end-consumers
    • you have an indirect customs representative in Northern Ireland - such as the Trader Support Service

You must also:

  • have a good customs and tax compliance record
  • have no record of serious criminal offences related to your economic activity
  • have records, systems and controls in place that allow you to declare and evidence that goods are not ‘at risk’, for example, that the goods are sold to customers in Northern Ireland - these must be accessible at your business premises in Northern Ireland
  • be able to provide evidence on request from HMRC to confirm that your goods were correctly declared as not ‘at risk’

If you move goods into Northern Ireland to be processed, you’ll need to meet additional conditions to declare these goods not ‘at risk’.

Your compliance record will be based on the last 3 years prior to application. During that period, you must not have committed a serious infringement or repeated infringements of customs rules. If you have been established for less than 3 years, then your compliance will be judged on the records and information available, including your involvement in previous businesses.

When to apply

You must apply for your UK Trader Scheme authorisation by 31 December 2020 if you want to declare your goods not ‘at risk’ from 1 January 2021.

You can apply later, but you must do this before you declare goods you move into Northern Ireland not ‘at risk’.

If you apply before the end of February 2021 then you’ll get a provisional authorisation for up to 4 months while we process your application.

During this time, you may declare goods as not ‘at risk’.

If you have a known history of serious non-compliance or criminal offences relating to your economic activity, then you’ll not be eligible for a provisional authorisation.

If you apply after February 2021

Applications received after the end of February 2021 will be processed as normal. This can take up to a month, so you must ensure you apply one month before you plan to declare goods not ‘at risk’.

If you supply goods to a business in Northern Ireland but do not have a fixed address in Northern Ireland

For a short period of time, to enable you to restructure or amend your contractual terms, you can be provisionally authorised to declare goods not ‘at risk’ without having your own fixed address in Northern Ireland if all of the following applies:

  • you do not have a fixed address in Northern Ireland
  • you supply goods to a business in Northern Ireland which has a fixed place of business from where those goods are provided for, or sold to end consumers, and that business is either:
    • provisionally authorised under the UK Trader Scheme
    • could be provisionally authorised, were they the importer of those goods

To be provisionally authorised to declare goods not ‘at risk’, you must

  • meet all of the other UK Trader Scheme criteria
  • be able to declare not ‘at risk’ for end-use or sale to end consumers in the UK

In your application you will need to:

  • list the addresses of the businesses in Northern Ireland that you supply and who are authorised or meet the criteria to be authorised - you will be able to list these as part of the application form
  • tell HMRC that you are supplying goods to a business in Northern Ireland who is authorised or meets the criteria to be authorised, but you do not currently have a fixed premises in Northern Ireland - you should state this in your covering email when submitting your application for provisional authorisation

What you’ll need

To apply for authorisation, you’ll need:

  • details of any other customs authorisations you hold, such as AEO, CFSP or customs special procedures - this means you’ll not need to provide as much information when you apply
  • your XI EORI number
  • details of your business and its directors
  • your company registration number or Unique Taxpayer Reference if you are a sole trader or partnership
  • your VAT registration number if you have one
  • the estimated number of declarations you’ll make annually
  • details of your business premises in Northern Ireland such as where you undertake processing or sell goods to consumers - you must provide details of all the premises you have in Northern Ireland

If you move goods for processing

If the goods you move into Northern Ireland will be processed there, you’ll also need to either:

  • provide your turnover for the most recent financial year, stating that this is below £500,000
  • declare that you intend to bring goods for processing into Northern Ireland for one or more of the following sole purposes:
    • food for sale to end consumers in the UK
    • construction, where the processed goods form a permanent part of a structure that is constructed and located in Northern Ireland by the importer
    • direct provision to the recipient of health or care services by the importer in Northern Ireland
    • not for profit activities in Northern Ireland, where there is no subsequent sale of the processed good by the importer
    • the final use of animal feed on premises located in Northern Ireland by the importer

More guidance will follow on whether your goods are subject to commercial processing and how this affects if they’re ‘at risk’ of going to the EU.

Records, systems and controls

You’ll need to give details of the records, systems and controls you have in place that allow you to accurately declare that goods are not ‘at risk’.

The records you tell us about will be specific and appropriate to your business and they’ll need to show:

  • where you move from goods from
  • how they’ll be used or sold in the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland where appropriate

If you’re a small or medium sized business you do not need complex systems, but they must be appropriate to the size, nature and complexity of the business.

For example, if you are:

  • a large business - you may tell us about the logistical software that you have, which tracks goods from import to end use
  • a small or medium-sized business - you may instead tell us about the internal processes or procedures you have in place which allow you to document the goods you import and evidence they are not ‘at risk’, like purchase and sales records

At authorisation, you should give details of:

  • systems and processes to track goods from import to end-use - such as logistics systems or stock control processes
  • documented procedures and administrative systems to determine whether goods are not ‘at risk’
  • internal controls and processes that ensure goods were correctly declared not ‘at risk’
  • commercial or transport records - such as delivery records or inventory systems which confirm end use of the goods

How to apply

You’ll need to:

  1. Fill in the form on screen, by selecting ‘Start now’.

  2. Save the form onto your computer.

  3. Email the completed form to: uktraderscheme@hmrc.gov.uk with any supporting documentation. Type your EORI number in the subject of the email.

We will not reply to queries sent to this mailbox.

You should complete the application form and submit to us with proof of permanent business establishment or document of establishment. You may also provide evidence of your record keeping to supplement the information provided in your application, but this is not mandatory.

Further guidance will follow on how to declare goods not ‘at risk’. For support throughout this process you may register with the Trader Support Service.

Start now

After you’ve applied

  1. You’ll get a notification from us to confirm we have your application for authorisation.

  2. You’ll then be provisionally authorised - unless you are separately notified by us that you’re not eligible due to your compliance history.

  3. You can declare the goods you bring into Northern Ireland not ‘at risk’ from 1 January 2021 and you can use the Trader Support Service to help you make import declarations.

  4. You’ll get a further notification once your application has been approved for full authorisation. If your application is approved, we will send you a letter with your UK Trader Scheme authorisation number.

If we reject your application

If we reject your application, we’ll send you a letter. You’ll no longer be able to declare your goods not ‘at risk’. You can either:

Keep evidence

You must keep evidence that your goods are not ‘at risk’ (for example, sales receipts) for 5 years. The types of records you must keep will be specific to your business but must clearly demonstrate the end use of the goods.

We may visit you to check your records. You must be able to provide access to a customs officer to check the records, systems and controls you have told us about, and evidence to confirm each declaration.

Published 15 December 2020
Last updated 24 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Information has been added about if you supply goods to a business in Northern Ireland but do not have a fixed address in Northern Ireland.

  2. First published.