29 March 2019
Details of customs processes for businesses who move goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the EU without a deal
The UK goverment has issued guidance on its temporary approach for moving goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland will face different procedures compared to other UK-EU trade. You will also need to consider any advice issued by the Irish government on their requirements for goods moving into or out of Ireland.
Northern Ireland customs procedures
Goods crossing the land, air and sea borders between Ireland and Northern Ireland are not currently subject to Customs Duty or customs declarations.
The new procedures will make sure this will not change for most goods.
This means most traders moving goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland will not need to get a customs agent or a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.
Goods arriving from Ireland will be subject to import VAT. Further information is available on VAT on goods you move from Ireland to Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
There will be no new requirements or checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
HMRC will support businesses who move goods across the border legitimately, including businesses that continue to use the routes they use today.
If you choose to move goods from Ireland to Great Britain through Northern Ireland for commercial reasons, not connected with an avoidance purpose, tariffs will not be due and tariff rate quotas will not apply.
If you divert goods through Ireland and Northern Ireland with the main purpose of avoiding Customs Duty, HMRC will have the power to require you to pay the UK’s tariff, whether the goods are from Ireland or outside Ireland.
Exceptions to the Northern Ireland procedures
The only exceptions for businesses will be:
- goods liable to Excise Duty (alcohol, tobacco and certain oils)
- a small number of controlled and licensed goods
If you move controlled and licensed goods you will need to:
- make declarations if you trade in dangerous chemicals, ozone depleting substances or F-gases
- use Belfast International Airport as the designated point of entry into Northern Ireland for endangered species and rough diamonds
- have a licence to export dual-use or goods which could be used for torture or capital punishment
- make declarations if you import animals and animal products from outside the EU that have not been checked in the EU
These are the only new processes which will be introduced.
DEFRA have also published guidance if you import regulated plant material from third countries to Northern Ireland through the EU, plants or plant products from the EU currently managed under the EU plant passport scheme. These goods will still be exempt from Customs Duty, but you must tell HMRC if you import or export goods that need a declaration between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Processes will also be put in place for those businesses wishing to declare goods into transit or special procedures. Use of these procedures is voluntary. To tell HMRC you’re moving these categories of goods, you should complete a declaration.
If you move goods between Northern Ireland and another country
The new procedures will not apply to goods moving between Northern Ireland and any other EU member state or third country.
You should follow the guidance in trading with the EU if the UK leaves without a deal for any goods you import from or export to any EU countries other than Ireland.
Moving controlled and licensed goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland
You need to make declarations if you are exporting or importing controlled or licensed goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland. This includes goods that are subject to Excise Duty (such as alcohol, tobacco and certain oils).
Find out more about import prohibitions and restrictions.
DEFRA have also published guidance if you are importing and exporting plant and plant products. These goods will still be exempt from Customs Duty, but you’ll need to make a declaration to HMRC if you import or export goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Processes will also be put in place if you wish to declare goods into transit or special procedures. Use of these procedures is voluntary.
You can use transitional simplified procedures to simplify your declarations to HMRC for controlled and licenced goods, including goods subject to Excise Duty.
Moving goods under transit procedures
If you move goods into Northern Ireland from Ireland by sea, you will be able to complete an Office of Transit check when you enter Northern Ireland at Belfast Port. There are no UK Offices of Transit at the Irish land border.
You do not have to use transit procedures to move goods from Northern Ireland if the final destination is elsewhere in the UK.
Find out more about moving goods under transit procedures to or from the UK.