Customs implications of trade with Northern Ireland

The Withdrawal Agreement was signed by the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) on 24 January 2020. The UK formally left the EU on 31 January 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement includes a transition period, that ends on 31 December 2020. During the transition period the UK continues to be treated as if it were an EU Member State.

The Withdrawal Agreement also includes the Revised Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland that will apply from 1 January 2021, the end of the transition period. This revised Protocol will enter into effect regardless of the outcome of negotiations on a future relationship between the EU and the UK.

The revised Protocol acknowledges the unique situation of Ireland and Northern Ireland through:

  • avoiding a hard border, including any physical infrastructure, or related checks and controls, between Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • safeguarding the all-island economy and the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement.

Implementation of the revised Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland

Under the Revised Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland will:

  • legally remain part of the customs territory of the UK
  • effectively remain within the EU Single Market for the movement of goods.

This has practical implications for rules for trade in goods between Ireland, Northern Ireland and the EU and will result in:

  • No customs declarations, tariffs or quantitative restrictions.
  • No customs checks or controls on the island of Ireland.
  • No safety and security requirements.
  • Continuing access to the VAT Information System (VIES) for Northern Ireland traders to account for VAT on intra-Community acquisitions and supplies.
  • The movements of excisable products will continue to be completed through the Excise Movement Control System (EMCS) by Northern Ireland traders. 

To safeguard the EU Single Market, the Protocol provides that Northern Ireland will remain aligned to a limited set of EU rules related to goods. The Union Customs Code will apply to all goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain or other third countries (non-EU and EFTA countries).

Under the Ireland and Northern Ireland Protocol a Joint Committee has been established to facilitate the implementation and application of the Protocol. This is to agree criteria to determine the risk of the onward movement of the United Kingdom (GB) or third country goods through Northern Ireland into the EU. 

Northern Ireland traders

In relation to the requirements for trade between Northern Ireland and the EU, Great Britain and third countries, please consult HMRC for further guidance. 

Great Britain EORI numbers will no longer be valid within the EU from 1 January 2021.  Northern Ireland EORI numbers will be updated with a new country code (XI).