Guidance

Moving qualifying goods from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK

Find out which goods qualify for unfettered access when moving from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK.

From 1 January 2021 Northern Ireland businesses will continue to have unfettered access to the whole of the UK market.

Which goods are qualifying Northern Ireland goods

Your goods will be qualifying Northern Ireland goods from 1 January 2021 if they are in free circulation in Northern Ireland - that means not under a customs procedure or in an authorised temporary storage facility - before you move them from Northern Ireland to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).

This qualifying goods regime forms part of a phased approach to implementation of unfettered access designed to:

  • avoid disruption
  • ensure maximum continuity after the transition period

We will bring forward a longer-term qualifying regime in the course of 2021, with only businesses established in Northern Ireland benefitting from unfettered access. Detailed guidance on that regime will be published in due course. This guidance will apply until that second phase regime is in place.

Goods processed in Northern Ireland

If your goods were processed in Northern Ireland, they’ll still qualify if all the components were in free circulation in the UK.

Goods that started their journey in the EU

Goods starting their journey in the EU will not qualify for unfettered access if they are moved through Northern Ireland into Great Britain for an avoidance purpose.

For goods that started their journey in the EU and come to Great Britain through Northern Ireland, you should make sure you comply with customs export requirements in your home member state.

If your goods are valued below 3,000 euros you may choose whether to declare these for export in your home member state or to HMRC.

Find out what to do when goods which were declared for export in an EU country leave Northern Ireland, for either Great Britain or another non-EU country.

If you move qualifying Northern Ireland goods

If you move qualifying Northern Ireland goods directly from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK there’ll be no changes and no new customs processes for almost all traders, with some very limited exceptions. For example, goods falling within the very limited number of procedures relating to specific international obligations binding on the UK and the EU - such as obligations on the movement of endangered species.

That means, for almost all traders, when your goods leave Northern Ireland for Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), there’ll be:

  • no export declaration
  • no exit summary declaration
  • no import declaration on arrival in Great Britain
  • no customs duties to pay
  • no VAT to pay at point of arrival
  • no changes to how your goods arrive at ports in Great Britain

You cannot move goods through Northern Ireland to avoid the UK tariff or import processes. You may receive penalties if you move goods through Northern Ireland for an avoidance purpose.

Moving qualifying Northern Ireland goods through Ireland

If you move qualifying Northern Ireland goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain through Ireland you’ll need to follow the process for importing goods into the UK from the EU unless you are using transit but you will not need to pay UK customs duties.

As long as your goods qualify, you can enter the code ‘DTY’ in box 47 on your import declaration and you’ll not be charged.

You should also enter the code ‘VAT’ in box 47 to ensure that import VAT is not charged at the point of arrival. The VAT should be charged and accounted for by the seller.

For more information on how to make an import declaration for these movements, please check the Great Britain CDS and CHIEF Tariff Guide supplementing the current version of the UK Trade Tariff: volume 3 for CDS and volume 3 for CHIEF.

This process will be further simplified during the course of 2021. You will need to comply with some Irish customs requirements to exit through a port in Ireland, and should check Irish customs guidance.

If you import goods directly from Ireland into Great Britain you’ll need to follow the normal process for importing goods into the UK.

Using transit to move goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

You do not need to use Common or EU transit to move goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain indirectly through Ireland. If you choose to use transit then you should use the normal process for moving your goods to common or EU transit countries.

You will need to submit an export declaration in Northern Ireland if your goods are going to an office of destination in Great Britain, but if the goods are qualifying goods then you will not need to pay customs duties or make an import declaration after the transit movement ends in Great Britain.

When to submit an export declaration

There are some limited exceptions, when you need to submit an export declaration for a movement of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. These are if your goods are:

For goods that started their journey in the EU and come to Great Britain through Northern Ireland, you:

  • should make sure you comply with customs export requirements in your home member state
  • may choose whether to declare your goods for export in your home member state if they are valued below 3,000 euros

Goods for which specific conditions apply by virtue of UK or EU international obligations when moved from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

Specific conditions apply to the following goods:

In addition to the requirement for export declarations, further requirements may apply for these goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. Find out more about moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.

Moving excise goods directly from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

If you move excise goods directly from Northern Ireland to Great Britain there’ll be no changes and no new customs procedures.

You do not need to submit an:

  • export declaration in Northern Ireland, subject to some limited exceptions
  • import declaration in Great Britain

Moving excise goods from the EU to Great Britain through Northern Ireland

If you move excise goods from the EU to Great Britain through Northern Ireland you’ll need to submit an import declaration to either:

  • account for UK excise duty
  • declare the goods into excise duty suspension

You do not need to:

  • pay customs duties if your excise goods are qualifying goods and you’ve not moved them through Northern Ireland for an avoidance purpose
  • submit an import declaration if you are a passenger carrying qualifying excise goods for your personal use in your accompanied luggage

Placing qualifying Northern Ireland goods on the market in the rest of the UK

You will not need any new regulatory approvals to place your qualifying goods on the market in Great Britain.

There is further guidance that applies depending on what type of goods you are placing on the market in Great Britain. Find out more about moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.

Published 11 December 2020
Last updated 13 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. This page has been updated with information about what to do for goods that started their journey in the EU and were declared for export in an EU country leave Northern Ireland.

  2. Information has been added about goods for which specific conditions apply when moved from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, and placing qualifying goods on the market in Great Britain.

  3. First published.