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.
If your business has been closed under coronavirus restrictions, you should consider taking these steps now in advance of reopening to prepare for these changes.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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).
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:
- Apply for the UK Trader Scheme and declare goods not at risk.
- Declare that goods meet rules of origin in the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Read further information on using preferential rules of origin. You can check the rules of origin for specific commodity codes through the EU Access2Markets database.
- Claim a waiver of customs duty. Note that this is de minimis aid, and you will only be able to claim up to the maximum limit of €200,000 assessed over a three-year rolling period. This maximum allowance includes all assistance you have received from de minimis aid schemes for a three year period. Find information on de minimis aid.
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.
- Consider your data
Make a list of all the data flows into and out of your business. If you receive personal data from the EU, you may need to take action. The Information Commissioner’s Office has information on possible steps you will need to take. Remember that the temporary Bridging Mechanism, which enables the continued free flow of data from EU-UK, expires on 30 June 2021. Depending on the nature of future arrangements, businesses may have additional obligations after this date. Please consult the ICO website for details.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 sending parcels between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. If you receive goods from the EU (including Ireland) via post/parcels you should not face additional requirements such as tariffs.
- 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.