Brexit: Trading with Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland after Brexit

As the transition period has ended, the arrangements set out in the Northern Ireland Protocol has taken effect. This gives special status to Northern Ireland to remain part of the EU. The protocol also maintains the UK’s commitment to protecting the UK internal market by ensuring that Northern Irish goods have “unfettered access” to Great Britain’s market.


However, as Northern Ireland will still be part of the EU, moving goods from Great Britain will be subject to customs procedures and could be subject to duty if the goods are “at risk” of entering the EU and Northern Ireland.

Before moving goods

The TTF has created a simple checklist of what you need to do before you start trading.

Before you start moving goods there are a number of things that you must do before you start.


  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.

Moving goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain


There are 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.

We have created a simple checklist to help you get started. Click to enlarge.

In December we hosted a Members Forum to help businesses trading with Northern Ireland, focusing on due diligence, trade processes, and CE marking.

Download Nick Boulton's Presentation

Bringing goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain and from outside the EU

All goods which are shipped from the UK to Northern Ireland (either direct or via the Republic of Ireland) will have to submit a customs entry as part of the shipment process.


This is because Northern Ireland remains part of the EU and therefore remains subject to EU requirements including Plant Health and due diligence.


In most cases the buyer in Northern Ireland will be named as the Importer and their unique EORI reference which will start with XI will need to be recorded on the customs entry as the party being responsible for any EU duty to be paid.


As most wood products are duty-free on a global basis there is usually no action necessary for duty purposes.


However, where EU duty would be necessary, as in the case of wood-based panels, if the Northern Ireland Buyer wishes to avoid such duty, then under the Northern Ireland protocol they can do so by confirming as part of the customs entry that the goods are NOT “At Risk” of crossing the border and being sold in the EU.


There are also 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:



If you trade using a UK port that uses the Goods Vehicle Movement Service you will need a goods movement reference find out what you need to do to get goods through customs.


This service brings together multiple declaration reference numbers into a single goods movement reference. to speed up the clearance of goods through customs. You will not be able to move goods without this reference.


If you are a trader sending goods, you must:


  1. Check if the port where the goods are arriving is using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service because you need to pre-lodge declarations.
  2. Before the goods arrive at the departure port you must give the haulier your movement reference numbers from any safety and security declarations, import or export declaration, TIR and ATA carnet numbers. Alternatively, you must give your EORI number if you are approved to make an entry in your own records.
  3. If your goods are travelling under common and union transit, you must give the haulier the transit accompanying document, as well as the movement reference numbers for any safety and security declarations.

Who is responsible for customs procedures?

Incoterms are a set of 11 internationally recongised rules which define the responsibilities of sellers and buyers. It specifies who is responsible for paying for and managing the shipment, insurance, documentation, customs clearance, and other logistical activities.


As the responsibility shifts depending on the incoterms, it is imperative that the seller makes it clear on the terms they are selling the goods on. This is helpful as businesses will not have to write their own terms.

How to check if you can declare goods as NOT ‘at risk’

There are two ways that you can check goods brought into Northern Ireland from Great Britain are not ‘at risk’. Goods will be not ‘at risk’ where:


Preferential rate of duty

To benefit from preferential tariffs when importing into the UK from the EU (or importing into the EU from the UK, including Northern Ireland), the importer will be required to declare they hold proof that the goods comply with the Rules of Origin.


The Rules of Origin state that if goods originate in the EU or UK, you may be able to claim a preferential rate of duty when imported into the respective countries and released to free circulation. This means they will be free of Customs Duty.

When your goods are not ‘at risk’ under the UK Trader Scheme

Where the EU tariff is above zero, goods brought into Northern Ireland from Great Britain can still be declared not ‘at risk’ when they are for sale to, or final use by, end consumers located in the United Kingdom.


To declare these goods as not ‘at risk’, you will need to be authorised under the UK Trader Scheme. The origin of goods brought into Northern Ireland from Great Britain does not affect the ability to be authorised under the UK Trader Scheme.


If the goods you move into Northern Ireland will be subject to processing, you will need to meet additional criteria to declare these goods not ‘at risk’. You must specify that you either meet the turnover criterion, or that you process goods for one of the approved purposes when applying for UK Trader Scheme authorisation.


This includes construction, where the processed goods form a permanent part of a structure that is constructed and located in Northern Ireland by the importer.

Trader Support Service

You do not need to complete these declarations yourself – you can sign up for the Trader Support Service or get someone else to complete declarations for you.


Where somebody else is completing your declaration for you, you will need to make sure they know whether you are authorised for the UK Trader Scheme and that you wish to declare that your goods are not ‘at risk’, or you will be charged the EU tariff.

This is a free service and will help guide you through any changes to the way goods move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, help you complete declarations on your behalf and help you move goods, as well as bring goods in between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Find out more here.

Northern Ireland Customs & Trade Academy

To help your business facilitate these changes, the Government has provided a new online learning platform, the Northern Ireland Customs & Trade Academy. This provides online training, webinars and ‘how-to’ guides to all those involved in trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Goods at ‘risk’

Where you are not able to move goods under the UK Trader Scheme, and the applicable EU tariffs are higher than the applicable UK tariffs (which are zero in the case of movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland), then the EU tariff will apply.


In those circumstances you may want to consider other circumstances where the tariff does not need to be paid or where delaying duty payment may be of benefit:

  • you may be eligible for a waiver subject to de-minimis State Aid limits, on the goods you move into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
  • you may wish to use existing customs special procedures such as Customs Warehousing and Inward Processing which allow you to store, temporarily use, process or repair your goods and get partial or full relief from import duty, or in some cases suspension – these may be of benefit if you’re unable to declare goods not ‘at risk’ when bringing them into Northern Ireland.

Due diligence and CE marking

Due diligence will not be required when sending goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain due to the ‘unfettered access’ granted.


However, when sending goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland then due diligence will be required. As illustrated in this helpful image below. Click to enlargen.

This is because goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland falls under EUTR, meaning that due diligence will be required.

The operator in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland will need to have the product / supply chain information, risk assessment and risk mitigation info available for inspection upon request.

Presentation on due diligence

Download presentation slides

TTF Due Diligence Toolkit

How to prepare?

You can prepare by first having a person in charge that will be responsible for priority mapping to gather information on your product, species, certification, country of production, and country of harvest.


You will also need to do an initial risk assessment. If risk can be deemed Negligible, then there will be no need for further mitigation actions. You can complete our due diligence report for those that can be deemed Negligible risk.


To help you find the paperwork you may need to visit the Sourcing Hub of Preferred by Nature to find what recommendations they offer. Please be aware that their recommendations may not be applicable to you.

CE Marking

The CE mark is the ONLY acceptable mark for the EU and Northern Ireland. It is also a valid method of indicating conformity in Great Britain until 1 January 2022, although it will still be allowed on the product thereafter.


The UKCA mark will be the sole acceptable mark from 1 January 2022. However, the UKCA mark is not suitable for indicating conformity in Northern Ireland, only CE marking will indicate that, but UKCA can be carried on the product alongside the CE mark. This is the same for trading with the EU as well.

UK notified bodies are no longer able to oversee CE marking unless you are sending goods specifically to Northern Ireland. The UK notified body can apply the CE mark, and to indicate it was a UK notified body, a UK NI mark must appear on the product. The UK NI mark is not suitable for Great Britain not to any other member state in the EU, only to Northern Ireland.

Wood Packaging Material (WPM)

As there is now an international border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, any wood packaging that crosses that border must be ISPM15 compliant. The wood packaging must be stamped with an ISPM15 stamp and have the registration number of the company that undertook the heat treatment.


There are certain products that do not count as wood packaging:


  • Sticks <6mm thick
  • Integral bearers strapped to pack (of same material)
  • Wood that will be used to make pallet or packaging

Wood Packaging Material Rules for Northern Ireland

When goods are moving from Northern Ireland to the EU, wood packaging does not have to be ISPM15 compliant as they are under EUTR. Also, due to the unfettered access, WPM does not have to ISPM15 compliant.


However, if the goods sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are considered to be “at risk” then the packaging will have to be ISPM15 compliant.


When the goods are not “at risk” when trading from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, then the packaging does not have to be ISPM15 compliant. We suggest that all packaging sent to Northern Ireland is ISPM15 compliant to make sure there is no delay in shipping.