EU exit checklist - 10 steps to take


New rules came into operation from 1 January 2021 for Northern Ireland businesses. This checklist highlights the key actions that businesses in NI, regardless of sector, should take to avoid potential disruption as a result of these changes.


  1. Speak to your usual suppliers
    Brexit and the implementation of the Protocol have impacted suppliers both in Northern Ireland (NI) and in Great Britain (GB), particularly for goods moving from GB to NI. You should ask your suppliers whether there have been any changes that you need to be aware of. In particular, check with GB suppliers whether there are any changes to the terms of purchases from NI. Your suppliers in GB also need to prepare and you will need some information from them to help you get ready. If they have not prepared it is likely you will face delays to orders from GB. You should suggest that your supplier registers for the Trader Support Service and ask them to apply for GB and XI EORI numbers.

    NOTE: Do you work with suppliers in GB? There are steps that they will need to take to continue to sell or move goods to Northern Ireland. Avoid potential disruption to your business and know the steps that your suppliers should take to prepare - see Moving goods to Northern Ireland from Great Britain: Actions for businesses in GB.

  2. Register for the Trader Support Service
    If you buy from GB you will experience new customs requirements. The Trader Support Service provides free training and support for businesses for customs processes that will arise for goods moving between GB and NI. The Trader Support Service can provide support in registering for an EORI number, understanding Incoterms and in making declarations for goods moving from GB to NI. Even if you are not sure whether you will buy from/sell to GB in the next year, it is worth registering just in case.
  3. Apply for XI and GB EORI numbers
    You will need both a GB EORI number and an XI EORI number if you buy from GB. If you do not already have a GB EORI number, you can apply for both a GB EORI number and an XI number at the same time – get an EORI number. There is no risk to having an EORI number even if you do not use it. If you are a VAT registered business that buys/sells goods from the EU (including Ireland) you will also need a XI VAT number. Some businesses have already been allocated one. If you have not received a letter from HMRC notifying you of this, you should notify HMRC that you intend to buy goods from the EU.

  4. Find out the commodity code for goods you buy or sell
    If you buy from/sell to GB, you need to know the commodity codes for the goods you purchase and sell. For goods you purchase, you should speak to your supplier as they may be able to tell you the code. You can also check the code using the Trade Tariff. You should check the tariffs applicable under the EU Common External Tariffs and UK Global Tariff (UKGT).

  5. Plan for how to handle tariffs on purchases from Great Britain
    Tariffs may be applied to purchases from GB unless you take some action. There are several options available and businesses can use different processes for different purchases. The main options are:

    You will need to input this information into the import declaration. If you use the Trader Support Service, this information is input on the supplementary declaration.

  6. Consider your data
    The EU has formally adopted 'adequacy decisions' for the UK. They allow for the ongoing free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK. This means:
    • If your UK business or organisation receives personal data from the EU or EEA, it can continue to flow as before and you do not need to take further action in most cases.
    • If you are a UK business or organisation with an office, branch or other established presence in the EEA, or if you have customers in the EEA, you need to comply with both UK and EU data protection regulations. You may also need to designate a representative in the EEA.
  7. Food and plant requirements
    There are new requirements for bringing plants, products of animal origin and other food products from GB to NI. You should familiarise yourself with the DAERA guidance on helping you move such goods and advise your supplier and haulier that they should be aware of the new groupage model. Also, find out how the Movement Assistance Scheme may help.
  8. Check regulations that apply to your goods
    Manufactured goods brought into NI must meet EU regulations. This means that if you are buying these products from GB, you will need to ask your supplier whether the goods continue to meet EU rules. For example, whether goods continue to require CE marking. There are different rules for different products - check information on the products you purchase.
  9. Know the rules for managing parcels
    There are new rules that impact parcel movements between GB and NI. A declaration will be required for businesses who receive parcels valued at greater than £135 from a business in GB or where the goods are prohibited or restricted. Read more about importing and exporting by post. If you receive goods from the EU (including Ireland) via post/parcels you should not face additional requirements such as tariffs.
  10. Check if you can still apply for the EU Settlement Scheme
    If you or one of your staff is an EEA national (excluding Ireland), they will need to have applied to the EU Settled Status Scheme to continue living or working in the UK. The closing for applications date was 30 June 2021. In some cases, you can still apply after the deadline -  check who can still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If you plan to hire foreign nationals (EU and non-EU, excluding Irish nationals) you will be required to apply for a sponsorship licence from the Home Office.

Further support available
If you are a business based in Northern Ireland, there is a range of support available to assist with trade, depending on the nature of your business. See EU exit - local trade advice and support organisations.