Guidance

Trading and moving goods in and out of Northern Ireland

How to prepare if you trade and move goods in and out of Northern Ireland.

Applies to Northern Ireland

This guidance explains what you may need to do if you either:

  • trade or move goods between Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) and Northern Ireland
  • import goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and from outside the EU
  • move goods between Northern Ireland and the EU

If customs processes are new to you, you can sign up for the free Trader Support Service. The Trader Support Service will guide you through any changes due to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol and can:

  • help if you move goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, or bring goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK
  • complete declarations on your behalf without the need for specialist advice or software

Before you move goods

Before you move goods between Northern Ireland and non-EU countries (including Great Britain)

  1. If you plan to move goods between Northern Ireland and non-EU countries (including Great Britain), you’ll need an EORI number that starts with XI.

  2. If you plan to move goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, or bring goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK, you can sign up for the free Trader Support Service.

  3. If you’re not using the Trader Support Service, you can get someone to deal with customs for you, or find a training provider to help you.

  4. If you bring goods into Northern Ireland, you can find out how to make sure the right tariff is applied to the goods you bring from Great Britain (including whether you can claim preferential rates of duty on goods covered in the UK’s deal with the EU) or from countries outside of the EU and the UK.

  5. If you import goods regularly, you can apply for a duty deferment account to delay paying most customs charges.

  6. To understand any duty or other measures that apply to your goods, you need to find the right commodity code to make your declaration when you bring goods in or send goods out of Northern Ireland.

Before you move goods between Northern Ireland and the EU

  1. If you plan to move goods between Northern Ireland and the EU, you’ll need to tell HMRC so that you are identified as trading under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

  2. You’ll need to add an ‘XI’ prefix before your UK VAT number on all documentation when communicating with EU customers or suppliers. This is so VAT can be accounted for correctly on transactions between Northern Ireland and the EU using rules on intra-EU movements.

  3. If you make sales of goods from Northern Ireland to consumers in the EU check how to pay VAT using the One Stop Shop (OSS) Union scheme.

  4. If you import eligible low value goods into Northern Ireland and have registered for the VAT Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) in the EU find out how to tell HMRC your IOSS registration number.

Moving goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

There are no changes to how qualifying Northern Ireland goods move directly from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. There are some changes for qualifying goods moved indirectly through Ireland.

This qualifying goods regime forms part of a phased approach to the implementation of ‘unfettered access’.

Bringing goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain and from countries outside of both the EU and the UK

You will need to make declarations and pay any tariffs due when bringing goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain or from countries outside of the EU and the UK.

There are a number of options available to make sure the right tariff outcome is applied on the goods you bring into Northern Ireland. Before moving your goods, you should consider which of these options is most suitable for your business.

Find out more about how to ensure the right tariff is applied to the goods you bring into Northern Ireland from Great Britain or from countries outside of the EU and the UK.

Making declarations

Sending goods from Northern Ireland

If you’re a UK-based business sending goods from Northern Ireland, check what declarations may need to be made.

Bringing or receiving goods into Northern Ireland

If you’re a UK-based business bringing or receiving goods into Northern Ireland, check what declarations may need to be made.

Check the origin of your goods. This may allow an EU or UK preferential arrangement to apply.

For goods moving into Northern Ireland from outside EU and UK, EU Tariff Rate Quotas will not be available. More guidance will be published as soon as possible for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Use the commodity code to check what duties and measures may apply to your goods. This will show if you need any extra documentation or measure codes on your declaration.

Where a commodity code indicates the need for a meursing code within the EU tariff, this will need to be included on all Northern Ireland declarations.

Moving goods between Northern Ireland and the EU

Declarations are not needed for any goods.

However, if you’re liable to submit Intrastat Supplementary Declarations, you can continue to submit Intrastat declarations for goods you move between Northern Ireland and the EU.

Moving qualifying goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain through Ireland

Check what you’ll need to do if you move qualifying Northern Ireland goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain through Ireland.

Moving commercial goods in your baggage

Bringing commercial goods into Northern Ireland from outside the EU

Find out what you need to do if you’re bringing commercial goods into Northern Ireland.

Taking commercial goods out of Northern Ireland to outside the EU

Find out what you need to do if you’re taking commercial goods out of Northern Ireland.

Bringing commercial goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

Find out what you need to do when moving commercial goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain in your accompanied baggage.

Bringing commercial goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain

Find out what you need to do when bringing commercial goods into Northern Ireland in your accompanied baggage from Great Britain.

Movements between Northern Ireland and the EU

There will be no change to the current rules.

Moving personal goods in your baggage

From Northern Ireland to Great Britain

No VAT will be due, as long as you’ve not claimed a VAT refund.

Into Northern Ireland from Great Britain

In most cases, no VAT will be due. In a very limited number of circumstances, you may have to pay import VAT.

From Northern Ireland to the EU

The rules on taking personal goods from Northern Ireland to the EU have not changed.

Into Northern Ireland from the EU

There will be no tax or duty due on personal goods carried into Northern Ireland from the EU if they are for personal use or to give as a gift.

Into Northern Ireland from outside the EU

For visitors arriving in Northern Ireland from outside the EU (not including Great Britain), the current duty free allowances will apply.

VAT Retail Export Scheme

Northern Ireland businesses can offer refunds of VAT on goods to visitors to Northern Ireland where they take those goods with them in their luggage when they leave, using the VAT Retail Export Scheme.

Importing live animals and products of animal origin

  1. Get a vet inspection and export health certificate.

  2. Pre-notify arrival of your goods into Northern Ireland using a Common Health Entry Document (CHED). Find information about completing your CHED online using the TRACES NT system. Read information about animal health import controls in Northern Ireland.

  3. After submitting your CHED, you’ll need to make either a full import declaration or a simplified frontier declaration. Find out what you need to do when making a full import declaration. Find out how to use the simplified frontier declaration.

  4. If you cannot make the full import declaration or the simplified frontier declaration, you can sign up for the free Trader Support Service who can help complete your declaration. If you will not be using the Trader Support Service, you can get someone to deal with customs for you, or find a training provider to help you.

  5. Check if you’ll need a goods movement reference and how to get one.

  6. You should check with your haulier to find out when the movement has been cleared and the goods can continue their journey.

  7. If you made a simplified frontier declaration, you’ll need to make an import supplementary declaration after the movement. Find out how to make your import supplementary declaration.

Transporting and carrying goods if you’re a haulier or a carrier

Check how to move goods through ports that use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service for movements of goods from:

  • the EU to Great Britain (for transit movements only)
  • Great Britain to Northern Ireland

Moving goods under transit

Bringing goods into or through Northern Ireland using transit

Check what you need to do when using Common or Union transit for goods coming into or ending in Northern Ireland.

Sending goods from or through Northern Ireland using transit

Check if you can use Common or Union transit when exporting or taking goods out of Northern Ireland.

If you can use Common or Union transit, find out what you’ll need to do to prepare your goods and plan your route.

Moving excise goods

Find out about moving excise goods:

Moving cash

You’ll need to make a declaration if you, or people you’re with, are carrying 10,000 euros or more of cash and travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Paying VAT

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU VAT rules will continue to apply in Northern Ireland in respect of goods.

If you’re a VAT-registered business trading between Northern Ireland and the EU, you’ll need to be identified as operating under the Northern Ireland Protocol. You can tell HMRC using the online form.

Once you have been identified, you’ll need to add an ‘XI’ prefix before your normal UK VAT number, on all documentation when communicating with EU businesses and systems.

Find out about:

Digital services

Find out how to pay VAT if you sell digital services to EU consumers.

Second-hand motor vehicles

Find out how to use the VAT margin scheme if you sell second-hand motor vehicles in Northern Ireland that were originally bought in Great Britain.

Other services

The VAT rules for supplying services that are not digital between Northern Ireland and EU member states will become the same as the current rules for supplying services that are not digital between Northern Ireland and outside the EU.

Special procedures, duty reliefs, authorisations and guarantees

Special procedures

Importers will be able to access special procedures to suspend or relieve import duty on goods that are stored, processed or temporarily used in Northern Ireland. In most cases there will be no changes to these special procedures and reliefs.

Find out about customs special procedures that allow you to suspend, pay less or no duty on goods you import or export.

Authorisations

You’ll need prior authorisation if you want to use any of the following special procedures more than 3 times in a year:

If you want to continue to access Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) benefits in Northern Ireland and the EU, you’ll need an Northern Ireland AEO authorisation.

Duty reliefs

In most cases there will be no changes to duty reliefs, and you still may be able to pay no Customs Duty or a reduced amount of duty for goods you bring or receive into Northern Ireland.

Guarantees

Guarantees will be needed to enter goods into special procedures, and a Customs Comprehensive Guarantee will be required for full authorisation to use a special procedure.

Temporary movements

You may be able to get an ATA carnet to avoid paying import duty if you’re importing goods to or from Northern Ireland temporarily.

Storing or handling goods

Temporary storage

You’ll still need a customs comprehensive guarantee if you operate a temporary storage facility in Northern Ireland.

For Movements in Temporary Storage (MiTS), you’ll:

  • still be able to move goods between 2 temporary storage facilities if both are located within Northern Ireland
  • no longer be able to move goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain

Find more information about how to put goods into a temporary storage facility.

Sending or receiving goods in parcels

If you’re a business, there will be some changes if you move express consignments (parcels) into or out of Northern Ireland.

Published 7 December 2020
Last updated 30 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. Information about 'Importing live animals and products of animal origin' has been added.

  2. A link to more information about how to put goods into a temporary storage facility has been added.

  3. Before you move goods section updated with information about the One Stop Shop (OSS) Union scheme and the VAT Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) scheme.

  4. Information about adding an ‘XI’ prefix before a UK VAT number when moving goods between Northern Ireland and the EU has been added.

  5. The information about bringing goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain and from countries outside of both the EU and the UK has been updated.

  6. Information about when to use an 'XI' prefix in UK VAT numbers has been added to the 'Paying VAT' section.

  7. We have added a link under 'Moving excise goods' to guidance on moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland by parcel.

  8. First published.