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.

There may be changes to some processes if you either:

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

This guidance explains what you may need to do.

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

Overview

Moving goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

From 1 January 2021, there will be no changes in how qualifying Northern Ireland goods move directly from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. There will be 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 outside the EU

The Northern Ireland Protocol outlined that goods from Great Britain which are not deemed to be at risk of leaving the UK customs territory will not pay any tariffs. However, goods ‘at risk’ of entering the EU’s single market will pay EU tariffs.

From 1 January 2021, you will need to make declarations and may need to pay any tariffs due when bringing goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain or from outside the EU.

There are a number of options available to avoid paying any tariffs when moving goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain. Before moving your goods, you should consider which of these options is most suitable for your business.

When bringing goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain, you will pay no duty if you are:

When bringing goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and the EU, you will pay the UK duty rate if your goods are not ‘at risk’ of onward movement to the EU.

Before you move goods

  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 import goods into Northern Ireland and want to declare your goods not ‘at risk’ so that EU duty will not be payable on those goods, you’ll need to apply for an authorisation for the UK Trader Scheme. You can also check how to claim preferential rates of duty on goods covered in the UK’s deal with the EU.

  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’ll need to find the right commodity code to make your customs declaration when you bring goods in or send goods out of Northern Ireland.

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 are 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 are taking commercial goods out of Northern Ireland.

Moving commercial goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

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

Moving 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 have 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.

Into Northern Ireland from the EU

There will be no change to the current rules. No tax or duty will be 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 will still be able to 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.

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 as freight under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Moving cash

If you, or people traveling with you, carry cash into Northern Ireland from Great Britain worth €10,000 or more in total, you may need to declare it.

Paying VAT

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU VAT rules will continue to apply in Northern Ireland in respect of goods. This means that apart from changes related to using an EORI number starting with ‘XI’, there will be no changes for transactions in goods between Northern Ireland and EU businesses and consumers.

Find out about:

If you’re a VAT-registered business trading in Northern Ireland or between Northern Ireland and the EU, you need to tell HMRC so you can continue to account for VAT on acquisitions and dispatches.

Digital services

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

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 enable 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 will require an NI AEO authorisation (NI AEO).

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 will:

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

Sending or receiving goods in parcels

If you are 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 31 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Information about moving commercial goods in your baggage has been added.

  2. Information has been added about bringing goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain and from outside the EU, and about how you can check how to claim preferential rates of duty, moving qualifying goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain through Ireland, moving personal goods in your baggage, sending or receiving goods in parcels and moving cash.

  3. Information has been added about where there may be changes to some processes, bringing goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain and from outside the EU, what you need to do if you import goods into Northern Ireland and want to declare your goods not ‘at risk', making declarations for bringing or receiving goods into Northern Ireland, transporting and carrying goods if you're a haulier or a carrier and moving goods under transit.

  4. First published.

  1. Step 1 Check if you need to follow this process

    Follow these steps if you're moving goods permanently to:

    • England, Wales or Scotland (Great Britain) from a country outside the UK
    • Northern Ireland from a country outside the UK and the EU

    What you need to do is different if you are:

  2. Step 2 Get your business ready to import

    You need an EORI number that starts with GB to import goods into England, Wales or Scotland. You'll need a new one if you have an EORI that does not start with GB.

    If you move goods to or from Northern Ireland you may need one that starts with XI.

    1. Get an EORI number

    There are processes that can make clearing customs quicker and easier to manage if you have to make import declarations regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you
  3. and Check the business sending you the goods can export to the UK

    The business sending you the goods may need:

    • to make an export declaration in their country
    • licences or certificates to send goods to the UK

    Check whoever is sending the goods is able to export them from their country.

  4. Step 3 Decide who will make customs declarations and transport the goods

    You can hire someone to deal with customs and transport the goods for you, or you can do it yourself.

    Most businesses that import goods use a transporter or customs agent.

    1. Find out how to hire someone to deal with customs for you
  5. Step 4 Find out the commodity code for your goods

    You’ll need to include the commodity code on your import declaration. This will determine the rate of duty you need to pay and if you need an import licence.

    You’ll need to include the commodity code on your import declaration.

    Your customs agent or transporter might be able to help you with this.

    1. Find the right commodity code for your goods
  6. and Work out the value your goods

    When you make your import declaration, you’ll need to include the value of your goods - this helps work out how much duty and VAT you’ll need to pay.

    1. Work out the value of your goods for customs
  7. Step 5 Find out if you can delay or reduce your duty payment

    If the UK has a trade agreement with the country you're importing from, you may be able to pay less duty or no duty on the goods (known as a 'preferential rate').

    1. Find out if you can claim a preferential rate of duty

    You may also be able to delay or reduce the amount of duty you pay based on what the goods are from and what you plan to do with them.

    1. Find out if you can pay a lower rate of duty
    2. Find out if you can delay paying duty
  8. Step 6 Check if you need a licence or certificate for your goods

  9. Step 7 Check the labelling, marking and marketing rules

  10. Step 8 Get your goods through customs

    If you've appointed someone to deal with UK customs for you, they'll make the declaration and get your goods through the UK border.

    1. Make an import declaration yourself and get your goods cleared by UK customs
  11. Step 9 Claim a VAT refund

    If you're VAT registered, you can claim back any VAT you paid on the goods you've imported. You’ll need your Import VAT Certificate (C79).

    1. Find out how to claim a VAT refund
  12. Step 10 If you paid the wrong amount of duty or rejected the goods

  13. Step 11 Keep invoices and records

    You must keep records of commercial invoices and any customs paperwork, including your Import VAT Certificate (C79).

    If you imported controlled goods, for example firearms, keep any paperwork that shows who owns them.