EU exit readiness checklist - 10 steps to take


There are new rules on how Northern Ireland businesses can operate from 1 January 2021. This checklist highlights the key actions that your business must take to get ready for the changes.


Follow this checklist to prepare your business for trading after 1 January 2021. Find links to guidance and further support to help you prepare.

  1. Register for the Trader Support Service
    The Trader Support Service will provide 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.
  2. Get an EORI number
    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 if you do not use it. 
  3. Find out the commodity code for goods you buy or sell
    If you buy from/sell to GB, you will need to know the commodity codes for the goods you purchase and sell. For goods you purchase, you should speak to your supplier, 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).
  4. Register for the UK Trader Scheme
    If you move goods from GB to NI in 2021, you will need to consider whether a tariff will apply to those goods. There will be two categories of goods in terms of tariffs: a) those 'at risk' of entering the EU to which a tariff will apply and b) those not 'at risk' of entering the EU to which tariffs would not apply.  Some goods will automatically fall into one of these categories - see when goods 'at risk' and goods not 'at risk' of onward movement to the EU.
    Find more on who is eligible and how to apply for the UK Trader Scheme

    It may take some time for your application to be processed. However, if you meet the conditions, you will be granted a provisional authorisation that will allow you to declare goods not to be 'at risk' until HMRC reaches a final decision on your application. 
    All businesses that bring goods from GB to NI should consider whether they meet the criteria for the UK Trader Scheme. 

  5. Speak to your haulier
    If you move goods to or from GB, ask you haulier what information they will need from you. Find out whether your goods routinely move through Dublin port, as processes will be different for goods that travel via Ireland.
  6. Speak to suppliers
    Ask your suppliers what preparation they have made for Brexit. If your supplier is in GB ask whether the terms of trade (responsibilities of buyers and sellers) through Incoterms will remain the same and who will be accountable for declaring goods to customs. You should suggest that your supplier registers for the Trader Support Service.
  7. Check regulations that apply to your goods
    Check whether your goods must meet EU standards and how these goods are approved for the EU market at the moment. Ask your supplier whether they will continue to ensure the products meet the requirements for the EU market. If you bring agri-food products from GB guidance and support is available from the Movement Assistance Scheme. The scheme will assist traders moving animals, plants and associated goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and will include a helpline with advisers ready to help you with the new requirements, including advice on export health certificates, live animals, animal products, plant and plant product types.
  8. 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.
  9. Check if you need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme
    If you or one of your staff is an EEA national (excluding Ireland), you or they will need to apply to the EU Settled Status Scheme. Your employees risk not being able to continue living or working in the UK if they do not apply to the scheme. Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
  10. Apply for an Immigration Sponsorship Licence
    If you wish 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. You should also consider the impacts of the new points-based immigration system on recruitment timelines and the costs of the immigration fees associated with the skilled worker route.