Guidance

How to make sure the correct duty is applied to goods you bring into Northern Ireland from countries outside of the EU and UK

Find out how to declare your goods so the correct duty is applied.

If you are a business that brings goods into Northern Ireland from countries outside of both the EU and UK, you will need to provide declarations for those goods. It is important that you complete your declarations correctly so that the right tariff treatment is applied to the goods.

Whether duty is payable on the goods you bring into Northern Ireland from countries outside of both the EU and UK, and how much duty that is, will depend on:

  • the applicable UK and EU duty including where goods are subject to a preferential rate of duty under a free trade agreement or where goods are eligible for duty relief
  • whether goods are ‘at risk’ of onward movement to the EU - if the goods you bring into Northern Ireland from outside of both the EU and UK are:
    • ‘at risk’, then the applicable EU duty will be due
    • ‘not at risk’, then the applicable UK duty will be due
  • if you are able to use customs special procedures to suspend, and in some cases get partial or full relief from import duty

Declaring goods ‘not at risk’

If you are moving goods into Northern Ireland from countries outside of both the EU and UK then you will either need to pay the EU or the UK duty, depending on whether your goods are ‘at risk’ or ‘not at risk’.

Your goods will be ‘at risk’ where the applicable EU duty is higher than the applicable UK duty and the difference is equal to or greater than 3 percentage points. The EU duty will be due on these goods as they are automatically ‘at risk’.

Where your goods are not automatically ‘at risk’ because of the applicable EU duty, you may consider if you can declare these goods ‘not at risk’ under the UK Trader Scheme. To do this, you will need to:

You must declare your goods ‘not at risk’ where the UK duty is equal to or higher than the applicable EU duty. The UK duty will be due on these goods. This is unless the goods are subject to processing in Northern Ireland, where there are additional requirements.

Calculating applicable duty

To calculate the applicable duty due on the goods you bring into Northern Ireland from countries outside of both the EU and UK, you must consider:

  • the applicable EU tariff and UK tariff
  • whether the goods are subject to EU or UK trade remedies - where goods are subject to EU trade remedies they cannot be declared ‘not at risk’ under the UK trader scheme
  • whether the goods meet rules of origin requirements to claim a preferential tariff under a Free Trade Agreement
  • whether you can claim duty relief

Claiming preference under a Free Trade Agreement

Where goods meet the relevant rules of origin requirements, the preferential rates under separate EU and UK free trade agreements with other countries should be used when calculating the applicable duty to decide if the goods are ‘at risk’ or not. To do this, you must hold supporting evidence that your goods meet the requirements to claim the preferential rate. Evidence requirements will vary by agreement but there is general guidance.

If you are bringing goods into Northern Ireland from a country that has a free trade agreement with the EU, you can claim a preferential rate if:

  • your goods are ‘at risk’
  • your goods meet the relevant rules of origin requirements for the EU agreement and you hold appropriate evidence

If you are bringing goods into Northern Ireland from a country that has a free trade agreement with the UK, you can claim a preferential rate if your goods:

  • are ‘not at risk’
  • meet the relevant rules of origin requirements for the UK agreement and you hold appropriate evidence

If you bring goods into Northern Ireland from a country that has a separate free trade agreement with both the UK and EU, the preferential rates should be used to calculate the duty, provided:

  • the goods meet the rules of origin requirements under both agreements
  • you hold supporting evidence

If the duty under both agreements is 0% then, subject to there being no other duty, measures or reliefs, including consideration of the ‘at risk’ rules on goods subject to processing and trade remedies, the goods will be ‘not at risk’ and the UK preferential duty (0%) will be due.

If your goods are only able to meet the rules of origin requirements under the UK free trade agreement, then the applicable EU duty will be at the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) rate.

Where the applicable EU duty is:

  • greater than the applicable UK duty, and the difference is equal to or greater than 3 percentage points, the goods will be automatically ‘at risk’ and the EU duty will be due
  • greater than the applicable UK duty, but the difference is less than 3 percentage points, traders may consider if they meet the conditions to declare the goods ‘not at risk’ under the UK Trader Scheme

Suspending duty through special procedures

You may want to consider using customs special procedures to suspend the duty payment on the goods you bring into Northern Ireland where duty would otherwise be due. Special procedures can help with cashflow, by delaying or in some cases removing the need for duty payment, including where you:

  • are not yet certain about the final destination of your goods
  • will be processing or storing your goods before selling or re-exporting them

You can declare goods ‘not at risk’ when they are declared into, and discharged from, special procedures subject to meeting the relevant conditions to declare goods ‘not at risk’. If you declare your goods ‘at risk’ on entry to the special procedure, this does not stop you from declaring them ‘not at risk’ when you declare them out of the procedure.

A financial guarantee is usually required while duty is suspended. If you are able to declare your goods ‘not at risk’ on entry to the special procedure in Northern Ireland and UK duty has not been paid yet, your guarantee requirement will be at the UK rate of duty. If the goods are ‘at risk’, the guarantee requirement will be at the EU rate of duty.

When discharging your goods from a special procedure into free circulation in Northern Ireland, you will need to work out if your goods are ‘at risk’ or ‘not at risk’ in the same way as you would at import. If:

  • your goods are ‘at risk’ when leaving the special procedure, the applicable EU rate of duty will be due in full
  • you are able to declare your goods ‘not at risk’ and UK duty has not yet been paid, then the applicable UK duty will be due in full

When discharging your goods from a special procedure, and not into free circulation in Northern Ireland, if you:

  • export your goods to a country outside of both the EU and the UK, no duty will be due
  • move your goods to free circulation in Great Britain, UK duty will be due

If you are bringing goods into Northern Ireland for processing and do not meet the additional requirements to declare these goods ‘not at risk’, the Inward Processing procedure may be useful. You can suspend duty while you process your goods and do not need to take into account the processing undertaken during the procedure when declaring goods ‘not at risk’ when you declare them out of the procedure.

If you are not sure of the final destination of your goods when bringing them into Northern Ireland, the Customs Warehousing procedure may be useful. You can suspend duty while you store goods in the Customs Warehouse. When discharging goods from the procedure, you can declare those that are:

  • destined for the EU, ‘at risk’
  • staying in Northern Ireland, ‘not at risk’, subject to meeting the other ‘not at risk’ requirements.

You may want to consider if other special procedures may be of help.

Published 15 December 2020